It wasn't pretty, but with a little luck and a great play by Jairus Byrd, the Buffalo Bills picked up their third win of the season.
Buffalo's Rian Lindell kicked a 25-yard field goal in overtime as the Bills defeated the Arizona Cardinals 19-16.
The victory was almost a loss for Buffalo. The Bills led 16-13 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter when head coach Chan Gailey called a pass play out of the wildcat formation. Brad Smith threw an interception and on the ensuing drive, Arizona's Jay Feely kicked a 61-yard field goal to tie it.
The Cardinals had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but Feely missed a 38-yard field goal attempt.
There is a lot to cover after today's game. Here is your Week 6 Buffalo Bills report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
OFFENSE - C+
If we focused solely on the running game, this grade would be higher. The Bills were effective on the ground Sunday (Buffalo had 165 yards rushing), but their passing game was average at best.
The good: C.J. Spiller rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown. Fred Jackson had a decent outing, rushing for 53 yards and a score. Brad Smith had a nice 16-yard run out of the wildcat formation. The lone bright spot in the passing game: Stevie Johnson caught six passes for 82 yards.
The bad: Ryan Fitzpatrick was inconsistent. He was able to hit Johnson for a couple of nice passes, but he missed some throws throughout the game. Scott Chandler only had one catch and wide receivers not named Stevie Johnson only had two catches for 15 yards.
Overall, it could be better. Fitzpatrick needs to be better. But thanks to Spiller, Jackson and Johnson, the Bills made enough plays to win.
DEFENSE - B
The Bills sacked Kevin Kolb five times. It wasn't surprising, as the Cardinals have given up several sacks this season. But it was refreshing to see the pass rush work. Chris Kelsay sacked Kolb in the first quarter for a safety and Mario Williams had two sacks. Nick Barnett also had two sacks.
But Jairus Byrd was the defensive MVP. Byrd had an interception in the fourth quarter and his interception in overtime allowed the Bills to win. Byrd has played well this season and this game was one of his best.
It was an encouraging performance. The Bills defense made a difference. They did allow 182 yards rushing, but they were able to limit the Cardinals passing attack.
SPECIAL TEAMS - B-
Leodis McKelvin had a 33-yard kick return. The return game has been good this year and has given the Bills good field position. McKelvin didn't have many chances to return punts Sunday. He only returned two for 10 yards. Shawn Powell had eight punts, with two inside the 20. But his bad punt at the end of regulation could have cost the Bills. Luckily for him, Feely missed the field goal. Overall, Powell had a good game. But that punt wasn't his finest moment.
COACHING - D+
Where do I begin?
Let me start with some praise. Dave Wannstedt was under fire after two bad games against New England and San Francisco. The defense responded and they played well against Arizona. Because of that performance, I will give Wannstedt some credit this week. The defense had an impact. The defensive unit was a major reason why the Bills won this week.
Now, it's Chan Gailey's turn.
The wildcat pass play call with three minutes to go in the fourth? That is the worst play call by Chan I have seen in his time here. What was he thinking? That play could have cost the Bills the game. With three minutes left, the Bills could run the ball and run the clock down. Instead, Gailey called for the wildcat pass. Brad Smith threw the ball deep, but it was intercepted by Arizona's Patrick Peterson. The ensuing drive led to the game-tying field goal.
After the field goal, the Bills got the ball back with more than a minute to go. Gailey called a pass play (it was incomplete) and then he called two run plays. The Bills punted the ball away, but Powell's punt went out of bounds near midfield. The Cardinals were able to get into field goal range, but (luckily) Feely missed the kick.
I can't give Gailey too much credit for this win. He did a horrible job, especially late in the game. His play calling was bad. The wildcat pass play was his worst. Jairus Byrd and the defense bailed him out.
Jairus Byrd and Mario Williams. Williams has been criticized for his mediocre play, but he showed up Sunday. He was a presence early and often. He had two of the Bills' five sacks. Hopefully he can get a lot more of those as the season progresses.
Byrd's two interceptions came at key moments. The second interception won the game for the Bills. He's a playmaker. He also had four tackles Sunday.
It was a good all-around game for the defense, but Byrd and Williams deserve the game ball(s) this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills won the game, but Fitzpatrick needs to be better. He was 18-for 32 and had 153 yards passing. He didn't throw any interceptions, but he missed his share of passes. This isn't new. He has missed plenty of throws this season. Scott Chandler wasn't a factor in this game and most of the receivers weren't either. That's not their fault. It's Fitzpatrick's. If the Bills are going to win the "big games," he needs to be good-to-great. He wasn't on Sunday. He hasn't been in most games this season.
The Bills return home next week for their first home game since their 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots on the final day of September. At 1 p.m. Sunday, the Bills will host the Tennessee Titans.