Rallying Past Patriots, Bills Start Another Celebration

Rian Lindell made a 28-yard field goal as time expired to cap a 34-31 win over the Patriots in which the Bills overcame a 21-0 second-quarter deficit and ended a 15-game losing streak against New England.

“It’s the biggest win of my career; I can’t think of any bigger,” said linebacker Chris Kelsay, one of four current Bills who took part in the team’s last win over New England, in the 2003 season opener. “To beat these guys at home, in front of our fans, with the way they’re behind us despite being down early, it’s huge. I’ll never forget it.”

The former lineman Ruben Brown hugged the Bills as they ran up the tunnel. Running back Fred Jackson ran around the field carrying a Bills flag. And stadium workers took no chances, first guarding the goal posts and then lowering them before fans got any ideas.

The Bills (3-0) won with yet another Fitzpatrick-led rally. And it was reminiscent of what they did in a 38-35 win over Oakland last week, when they scored touchdowns on their final five possessions to overcome a 21-3 deficit.

Tom Brady went 30 of 45 for 386 yards and 4 scores for New England (2-1), but the Patriots uncharacteristically unraveled. New England was called for eight penalties, and Brady matched a career worst with four interceptions. One was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Drayton Florence with 10 minutes 22 seconds left, only 14 seconds after Jackson tied the score at 24-24 with a 1-yard plunge.

¶ Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes in the second half to help Detroit get to overtime, and Jason Hanson kicked a 32-yard field goal to finish off the Lions’ 26-23 victory over the Vikings. Detroit is 3-0 for the first time since 1980. “I feel sick right now,” Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson said after the Vikings blew another big lead.

Steelers Edge Colts

¶ Shaun Suisham kicked a 38-yard field goal with 4 seconds left, lifting the visiting Steelers to a 23-20 victory over the Colts in a game that was far closer than expected. Even when Pittsburgh (2-1) finally thought it had shaken off Indianapolis (0-3), it hadn’t. After Troy Polamalu returned a fumble 16 yards for a 20-13 lead with 5:13 left, Curtis Painter — replacing the injured Kerry Collins — led the Colts on an 80-yard drive to the tying touchdown, a 6-yard run by Joseph Addai.

¶ Drew Brees passed for 370 yards and 3 touchdowns and twice erased fourth-quarter deficits in leading the Saints to a 40-33 win over the Texans at the Superdome. Mark Ingram’s first career touchdown, on a 13-yard run, gave the Saints (2-1) the lead for good.

¶ The stakes were not as high as in their previous meeting at Soldier Field, but the Packers once again beat the Bears, 27-17, as Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to Jermichael Finley. It was the teams’ first meeting since Green Bay (3-0) beat Chicago (1-2) in January to win the N.F.C. title.

Turnaround Victories

¶ Baltimore (2-1) bounced back from a disappointing loss to Tennessee with a record-setting day in St. Louis. The Ravens pounded the Rams, 37-7, behind a 27-point first half in which they gained 406 of their team-record 553 yards. They wrapped up their dominant performance when Haloti Ngata scored on a 28-yard fumble return after Ray Lewis stripped Sam Bradford on a sack late in the fourth quarter.

¶ Josh Freeman scored the first rushing touchdown of his career and Tampa Bay’s defense forced three turnover, helping the Buccaneers beat the Falcons, 16-13.

Comebacks in Ohio

¶ Colt McCoy capped an 80-yard drive with a 14-yard pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds left, rallying the Browns to a 17-16 win over the winless Dolphins. Before his game-winning throw, McCoy had overthrown, underthrown and flat-out missed receivers all day. But when it mattered most, he completed 9 of 13 passes for all 80 yards on host Cleveland’s winning drive.

¶ Kendall Hunter ran 7 yards for the only touchdown with 3:59 to go, rallying the 49ers to a 13-8 victory over the Bengals that began their extended stay in the Buckeye State on an upbeat note. The 49ers (2-1) will practice at Youngstown State the next few days, then head to Philadelphia for their next game.

In Other Games

¶ Cam Newton did not come close to matching the 400-yard passing days from each of his first two games, but he finally had the ending he wanted. Newton found Greg Olsen over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown with 4:20 left to help the Panthers beat the visiting Jaguars, 16-10. Newton finished 18 for 34 for 158 yards, but part of the blame went to the rain that arrived in the second quarter, turning the field into a slick, puddle-filled mess. “It wasn’t a pretty win,” Newton said, “but the last part counts, right?”

¶ Tarvaris Jackson put Seattle in the lead with a bulldozing 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Kam Chancellor sealed the victory with an interception of Kevin Kolb with 1:04 left in the Seahawks’ 13-10 win over the Cardinals.

¶ Eric Weddle intercepted Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left to preserve the Chargers’ 20-17 victory over the Chiefs. Kansas City (0-3) got the ball at its 33 with 1:26 left after Philip Rivers was stuffed on fourth-and-1. Cassel threw for 24 yards to Leonard Pope to get into Chargers territory, but on the next play, under pressure and backpedaling, he threw the ball right to the blitzing Weddle.

¶ Matt Hasselbeck threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Graham with 4:24 left, and the Titans rallied for a 17-14 victory over the visiting Broncos. The Titans (2-1) intercepted Kyle Orton twice, sacked him once and also stopped Willis McGahee on fourth-and-goal at the 1.

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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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