Bills Use All-Around Effort to End Skid

Jairus Byrd and Spencer Johnson returned Tebow interceptions for touchdowns on consecutive plays from scrimmage in the fourth quarter to seal Buffalo’s 40-14 rout of the Broncos on Saturday. The Bills snapped a seven-game slide and stalled the Broncos in their bid to secure their first playoff berth since 2005.

Tebow finished with a career-worst four interceptions as the Broncos (8-7) lost their second in a row and fell into a tie with Oakland for first place in the AFC West. The Broncos close the season at home against Kansas City next week, while Oakland hosts San Diego.

The Bills, meanwhile, will close out their 12th consecutive season without a postseason berth next week at New England.

“We’ve been well overdue for a big game as a team,” Wilson said. “To come out with the offense, defense, and special teams all hitting on all cylinders, it’s a great feeling to have.”

C.J. Spiller scored on a 4-yard run and Leodis McKelvin busted an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown to help the Bills to their first win since blowing out Washington at the end of October in Toronto, a victory that made them 5-2.

“Guys came out and played hard,” said Spiller, who surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his two-year career by gaining 111 yards on 16 carries. “That was the team that was 5-2 that performed out there.”

Byrd scored on a 37-yard return with 8:03 left and Johnson had a 17-yarder just 18 seconds later as Buffalo (6-9) won its home finale.

Dave Rayner shook off two missed field-goal attempts — and a booing crowd — to hit his final four, all from within 29 yards.

The Bills held the Broncos to 293 yards.

“I thought our guys played extremely well,” Buffalo coach Chan Gailey said. “I thought we kept the pressure on the run game the whole game. It was a great job of planning and playing by our defense.”

The Bills set a single-season franchise record with five interceptions returned for touchdowns.

“When we had opportunities to get our hands on the ball, we took advantage of them and pulled down interceptions,” Wilson said.

Tebow finished 13 of 30 for 185 yards with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells. He added 34 yards rushing, and scored on a 1-yard plunge.

“My confidence is just fine,” Tebow said. “I have to do a better job of not giving them opportunities. I tried to make something happen, and I tried to force it.”

While Tebow was struggling, his Bills counterpart, Ryan Fitzpatrick enjoyed his most efficient game in two months by going 15 of 27 for 196 yards with no interceptions. Fitzpatrick took plenty of heat during the seven-game skid, in which he threw eight touchdown passes versus 12 interceptions.

“I think the losses that piled up motivated us,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was fun to be on the sidelines to see the guys jumping around. (The defense) smelled blood out there in the water, and they were going after that.”

Tebow had generated a national buzz for his ability to produce in the clutch. Entering the game with two interceptions all season, he was picked off four times in the second half as his record dropped to 7-3 since taking over the starting job.

“We did a good job of keeping (Tebow) in the pocket and making him throw from the pocket,” Johnson said. “Everybody did a great job of being disciplined in that area.”

Buffalo will attempt to sweep the season series from the Patriots in the regular-season finale. The Bills defeated New England 34-31 in Week 3.

“There’s a lot of good football left to be played with the guys in the locker room,” Kelsay said.

NOTES: After McKelvin scored, Denver’s Eddie Royal returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, but it was negated by a block in the back penalty against Dante Rosario. … Broncos RB Willis McGahee had 64 yards rushing to give him 1,054 this season. He became the second NFL player to reach 1,000 yards rushing with three teams. He previously did it with Buffalo and Baltimore. Ricky Watters rushed for 1,000 yards with San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle. … The Bills finished 5-3 at home (including a win over Washington at Toronto), matching their best record since going 5-3 in 2004.

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Bills Host Lions in Clash of Perennial Losers

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. The finally have their first win of the season. The own the NFL’s road futility record.

Fred Jackson ran for a season-best 133 yards and scored twice in leading the Bills (1-8) to a 14-12 win over the Lions on Sunday. Detroit (2-7) lost its 25th straight road game to break the record the Lions set from 2001-03.

And yes, this contest wasn’t pretty. It was played under rain-soaked conditions, befitting the sloppy — and sometimes laughable — performances of two perennial losers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.

That’s when Bills safety George Wilson recovered an onside kick and handed the ball to Chan Gailey, in honor of the coach’s first win in Buffalo since he took over in January.

The Lions, who never led, nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback when quarterback Shaun Hill hit Calvin Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bills lead to 14-12 with 14 seconds left. Hill failed on the 2-point conversion when he couldn’t find an open receiver, and eventually overthrew tight end Brandon Pettigrew in the back of the end zone.

The Bills became the NFL’s final team to win this season, and ended what had been their third-worst start to a season — and worst since going 0-11 in 1984.

The Lions have not won a game outside of Detroit in more than three years since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.

Jackson opened the scoring with a 1-yard plunge two minutes into the second quarter. He then appeared to put the Bills in control by scoring on a 16-yard catch off a shovel pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on Buffalo’s opening drive of the second half.

Fitzpatrick was 12 of 24 for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Hill finished 29 of 50 for 323 yards with a TD and an interception in making his first start in three games since breaking his left arm. Hill was forced back into action in place of Matthew Stafford, who hurt his right shoulder in a loss to the last week. Johnson had 10 catches for 128 yards.

Mistakes dominated a game between teams that haven’t reached the playoffs since the 1999 season, sharing the league’s longest active drought.

The Lions were penalized 11 times for 60 yards and had difficulty getting their offense going until the fourth quarter. They were forced to punt eight times. And Hill’s interception proved costly, setting up Jackson’s first score.

The Bills were equally inefficient.

Their defense squandered two chances to stop the Lions on their final possession of the first half, which ended with Dave Rayner hitting a 25-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 7-3 as time ran out. The most comical play came when Bills linebacker Arthur Moats tipped Hill’s pass into the air, where three Bills players converged only to crash into each other and drop the ball.

Late in the third quarter, a holding penalty on Buffalo’s John Corto negated what would’ve been Leodis McKelvin’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the third quarter. And the Bills usually reliable kicker Rian Lindell missed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right with the wind at his back at the end of the third quarter, which could’ve put Buffalo ahead 17-3.

Rayner, however, responded on the following possession by missing a 49-yard attempt wide right.

The Bills won despite losing rookie running back C.J. Spiller, who hurt his hamstring returning a punt in the second quarter. Buffalo also lost defensive end Spencer Johnson to a hamstring injury in the second half.

Rayner’s field goal was the first attempted and made by a Lions player other than Jason Hanson in 19 seasons. The Lions had signed Rayner this week after Hanson sprained his knee last week.

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