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 Draw Cheers in Canada; Beat Redskins 23-0

Ryan Fitzpatrick quickly made his expensive new contract pay off, and the Buffalo Bills finally gave their adopted — and sometimes indifferent — fans north of the border something big to cheer about.

Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for two touchdowns, and the Bills once porous defense had nine sacks and two interceptions to batter the already injury-riddled Washington Redskins 23-0 on Sunday.

It marked Buffalo’s first win in four trips to Toronto, since the cross-border series was established in 2008. They handed Redskins coach Mike Shanahan his first shutout loss in 24 seasons as an NFL coach or offensive coordinator, according to STATS LLC.

And surprise, surprise, the Bills were the ones drawing much of the applause days after safety George Wilson questioned Toronto fans’ passion and loyalty toward Buffalo.

“That was one of the things coming in, give them something to cheer about. And I thought we did that today,” said Fitzpatrick, who signed a six-year, $59 million contract two days earlier. “I think there was more excitement out there than there has been in years past.”

Fitzpatrick did his part in helping the Bills (5-2) open a season with four consecutive “home” wins for the first time since 1995.

And the defense proved dominating, coming out of its bye week off in limiting the Redskins to 178 yards and 10 first downs.

“It was a great overall performance,” said defensive end Spencer Johnson, who had a sack and blocked Graham Gano’s 49-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter. “To shut anybody out in the NFL, that’s a big feat, a big accomplishment and a big step in the right direction.”

The Redskins (3-4) have lost three straight and look nothing like the team that entered its bye week at 3-1.

“It’s pretty humbling to take that,” Shanahan said. “That’s as bad as I’ve ever been involved with from the offensive side.”

Washington continues to unravel as a result of such a growing list of injuries that would put a dent into Canada’s universal health care system.

Without running back Tim Hightower (knee), receiver Santana Moss (hand) and tight end Chris Cooley (knee), the John Beck-led attack managed 61 yards of offense and three first downs on six first-half possessions.

It didn’t get much better in the second half.

Their second drive of the half ended when Beck was sacked for a seventh time attempting to convert a fourth-and-4. The next time out, Beck was intercepted by Wilson.

“I kind of don’t have any answers right now,” Beck said, making his second straight start since replacing Rex Grossman. “I’m trying to figure that out myself. This is the one you want to see the tape, because it will be very telling.”

Beck went 20 of 33 for 208 yards.

With the Bills up 13-0 at the half, Fitzpatrick opened the third quarter with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, which he capped by hitting Chandler on a 15-yard fade in the left corner of the end zone.

Running back Fred Jackson had 120 yards rushing, and 74 receiving. With 1,074 yards from scrimmage, he became only the fourth Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards seven games into a season, and first since Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas in 1991.

The nine sacks is the second best total in team history, and two short of the record.

And they came with Buffalo minus two key starters, defensive tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and linebacker Shawne Merriman (Achilles tendon)

“I don’t think anybody expected that,” coach Chan Gailey said. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect that.”

Rookie first-round pick Marcell Dareus’ 2½ sacks led the way for a defense that entered the game with just four all season.

“I think this is the first complete game our team has played, and it’s only the beginning,” Dareus said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Fitzpatrick went 21 of 27 for 262 yards, and shook off a pair of turnovers and a big hit from linebacker London Fletcher.

Late in the first half, Fletcher caught Fitzpatrick high on the chest and bowled him over just as the quarterback completed a short pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 46-yard gain. Fitzpatrick was slow in getting up and then dropped to one knee.

After being attended to briefly by the training staff, Fitzpatrick stayed in the game to help set up Rian Lindell’s 44-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 13-0 as time ran out.

“I think the whole team had a collective gasp when they saw him down there trying to suck air,” Jackson said. “It was good for him to get back in there.”

Notes: There were notable pockets of Redskins fans throughout the Rogers Centre as part of an announced crowd of 51,579. Fans were late-arriving, as there were numerous empty seats throughout the 54,000-seat stadium. … The Bills did blame a false start on the cheering fans for doing the wave on a third-and-1 at the Redskins 16 in the fourth quarter. … Shanahan was the Broncos receivers coach in a 27-0 loss to the Bears on Sept. 9, 1984, the only other time he’s been blanked, according to STATS.

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Bills WR Johnson Probable for Patriots Game

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson is expected to play Sunday against the New England Patriots (2-0).

Johnson has been nursing a sore groin that forced him to miss Wednesday’s practice, but he practiced fully on both Thursday and Friday with the Bills (2-0).

Defensive linemen Spencer Johnson (hip) and Torell Troup (back) are also both probable. Troup has missed the first two games because of his injury.

Backup linebacker Kirk Morrison won’t play because of a hamstring injury, and cornerback Terrence McGee will miss his second straight game because of a hamstring injury.

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