The idea that the Buffalo Bills would put up 24 first half points against the stingy Baltimore Ravens defense might have seemed like a joke. But the joke was nearly on Baltimore, who allowed exactly that to happen and saw the winless Bills take them to overtime.

But the heavily-favored Ravens took advantage of Buffalo miscues in the extra time, barely escaping with a 37-34 win in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Oct. 24.

Most Baltimore fans stood silent in disbelief as they watched Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 374 yards and four touchdowns, including three in the first half. Unfortunately for the Bills, their outstanding offensive performance, including 505 total yards, wasn’t enough to steal the upset victory from the Ravens, who scored four touchdowns of their own to set up the dramatic overtime finish.

The Ravens secured the win when…

Star veteran linebacker Ray Lewis ripped the ball from Buffalo’s Shawn Nelson, giving Baltimore the ball at the Bills’ 45-yard line. Buffalo was called for unnecessary roughness after the fumble, which gave the Ravens another 15 yards to start their drive at Buffalo’s 30-yard line. Three plays later, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff nailed a 38-yard field goal to give his team the overtime victory.

Most Outstanding Player:

Fitzpatrick had a near-perfect game against the usually tough Baltimore defense, his only flaws coming on two passes that sailed into the hands of Ravens star safety Ed Reed, who made his season debut in the game. Reed was placed on the physically unable to perform list during the first six weeks of the season due to a leg injury, but he looked like he hadn’t lost a step as he snatched two interceptions, returning the ball down field in exciting fashion just as he’s done so many times in his nine-year career. He also forced a fumble early in the game that Baltimore failed to recover.

“It was a beautiful day,” Reed said following the game. “Coming out here and knowing the fans were going to be how they were, that was just a dream come true. It was like being a rookie all over again”

Unsung Player of the Game:

It’s hard to celebrate any Ravens’ secondary player after the unit gave up 374 passing yards, but it’s even harder to ignore the contributions reserve cornerback Josh Wilson made in the game. He fumbled a kick return early in the first quarter, but bounced back by recovering a huge fumble later in the half that helped Baltimore close the score to 24-20 just before halftime. When starting cornerback Fabian Washington was benched late in the fourth quarter after giving up three touchdowns, Wilson stepped in for him and played well to help keep Buffalo from finding the end zone again.

More Game Notes:

Buffalo’s Fitzgerald came into the game with an impressive seven touchdowns and only two interceptions in just three games played this season. He was a backup at the start of the season, and most fans weren’t aware of how talented a passer he is. But the Harvard graduate made sure the NFL world would know his name now, as he connected with eight different Buffalo receivers, including Steve Johnson, who finished with 8 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown and Lee Evans, who snatched six passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns. By the time Fitzpatrick and the Bills were done, they had accumulated more than 500 total offensive yards, the most the Ravens have allowed in 10 years.

“We obviously had some things that we didn’t do very well at all, but is a good football team,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m disappointed in the yards ; I’m disappointed with the points ; I’m disappointed with the coverage…. We have to play better than that to be the team we want to be, but I’m proud of the win. I’m proud we were able to pull off the win.”

Next Up:

The Ravens advanced to a 5-2 overall record, and are in second place in the AFC North Division behind the rival Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1 overall). Baltimore will take its bye week on Oct. 31 and use the rest to prepare for a home game against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 7.

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor