Bills hold on for stunning upset of Packers
By Jonah Bronstein The Sports Xchange ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills bolstered their playoff chances with a dominating defensive performance. The Bills made life difficult for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, forced three turnovers, ki...
By Jonah Bronstein
The Sports Xchange
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - The Buffalo Bills bolstered their playoff chances with a dominating defensive performance.
The Bills made life difficult for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, forced three turnovers, kicked four field goals and added a punt return touchdown to stay alive in the AFC wild-card race with a 21-13 win over Green Bay on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
After ending Petyon Manning’s streak of 51 games with a touchdown pass a week ago, the Bills (8-6) held Rodgers to a career-worst 34.4 passer rating and limited the NFL’s top scoring offense coming in to its second-lowest point total of the season.
“This is a huge confidence booster for the whole defense to allow, not one quarterback, but two of the hottest quarterbacks in the league to no passing touchdowns,” said Bills safety Bacarri Rambo, who intercepted Rodgers on consecutive possessions in the second half.
Rodgers completed 17 of 42 passes for 185 yards, threw two interceptions and failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all season as the Packers (10-4) had a five-game winning streak snapped and gave up ground in the race for homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs.
“It was frustrating,” Rodgers said. “They did a good job on defense, kind of slowed us down a little bit. We had some opportunities and didn’t execute very well on them.”
“We were expecting to shut them down,” Bills safety Aaron Williams said. “We went up against a Hall of Famer last week, why couldn’t we do it again this week?”
Buffalo sealed the game with a late safety. After Mason Crosby kicked a 34-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 19-13 with 4:53 remaining, Green Bay took over at its own 10-yard-line with 1:58 left on the block and no timeouts. Defensive end Mario Williams stripped Rodgers at the goal line, and running back Eddie Lacy recovered in the end zone.
Receiver Chris Hogan caught the Packers’ onside punt attempt to allow the Bills to run out the clock.
Rambo, who was signed by the Bills four weeks ago after being released by Washington in September, intercepted a Rodgers pass that bounced off the hands of receiver Jarrett Boykin after the Packers had driven from their own 2-yard-line to the Buffalo 34. Rambo’s 28-yard return gave the Bills a drive start near midfield and Dan Carpenter converted a 43-yard field goal to put the Bills in front 19-10 with 9:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers was intercepted for the first time in six games when Rambo made his first career pick late in the third quarter. It was also the Packers’ first turnover in five games. Despite a drive start at the Packers’ 29, however, the Bills could not capitalize on the turnover.
“The Bills’ defense really played the game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “They overloaded some formations and coverages. I thought the upfront battle was good. I thought their coverage was all over us and we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Rambo entered the game in the third quarter after safety Duke Williams sustained a concussion. Williams was starting in place of Da’Norris Searcy (hamstring).
“That’s just the kind of depth we have in the secondary,” Aaron Williams said. “We feel like everybody could start. Duke came in and did a great job before he got hurt and Rambo did a hell of a job.”
The Bills led for most of the second half despite failing to produce an offensive touchdown. Quarterback Kyle Orton was 14-of-27 passing for 158 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. The Bills rushed for 117 yards, led by running back Fred Jackson, who had 20 yards on 71 carries.
“As long as our defense keeps us in the game and keeps making plays like that, we know we have a chance to win,” Jackson said.
Buffalo took a 13-10 lead on the opening series of the second half on Carpenter’s 51-yard field goal.
Carpenter’s 35-yard field goal put the Bills up 16-10 with 4:18 left in the third quarter. A 40-yard reception by running back Bryce Brown put the Bills in scoring range.
Green Bay opened the scoring on Crosby’s 45-yard field goal with 4:27 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bills took a brief 7-3 lead when Marcus Thigpen returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing for the first time in six games, the Packers responded with an 80-yard scoring drive. Lacy rushed for 57 yards on the drive, culminating with his 1-yard touchdown run that put the Packers up 10-7. Lacy finished with 97 yards on 22 carries.
Carpenter kicked a 27-yard field goal to tie the score at 10-10 with 8:04 left in the second quarter.
Williams blocked Crosby’s 53-yard field goal attempt on Green Bay’s next possession.
NOTES: The Bills are assured of finishing with a .500 or better record for the first time since going 9-7 in 2004. ... Bills WR Sammy Watkins was limited to one catch for 28 yards. He has 822 yards on 58 receptions this season, both franchise records for a rookie. ... The Packers have had a league-leading six kicks blocked this season. ... Packers OT Brian Bulaga left the game early in the fourth quarter with a concussion. ... The teams combined for 19 penalties for 145 yards. The Packers were penalized 10 times for 75 yards. ... The Bills swept their NFC opponents this season for the first time since 2004.