BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot
Through the first eleven weeks of the season, the Buffalo Bills have made their fair share of big plays. Deciding on just five plays was a difficult task, but some of the “contenders” were eliminated from the list simply due to the fact they occurred in losing efforts.
5. Da’Norris Searcy’s Pick Six Sends the Ralph into a Frenzy Versus New York
With the Buffalo Bills holding a comfortable 27-7 lead over the division rival New York Jets last week, Jets quarterback Geno Smith dropped back to throw a wide receiver screen to Santonio Holmes as the Jets attempted a comeback. As Smith let the ball go, Buffalo safety Da’Norris Searcy jumped into the path of the ball. After corralling the pass, Searcy returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.
Geno Smith’s third interception was his most costly one, as it put the game well out of reach. With the score being 34-7, Smith only played one more series before he was replaced by Matt Simms.
4. Marquise Goodwin Seizes Momentum Back from the Jets
Perhaps it’s because the game is fresh in my memory, but last week’s game against the New York Jets makes the list twice for Buffalo’s top plays.
After the Jets cut Buffalo’s lead to 20-7, the Bills and Jets exchanged three-and-outs. Buffalo’s defense was playing well enough, but the score was still too close for comfort. After a 40-yard pass to T.J. Graham, the Bills found themselves on the Jets’ 43-yard line.
Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel took the next snap out of the shotgun and spotted Buffalo’s speedy rookie wide receiver, Marquise Goodwin, running a “go” route. Goodwin was able to get behind the Jets’ top cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, and caught Manuel’s pass in stride for a 43-yard touchdown. The touchdown and extra point gave the Bills a 27-7 lead.
The most impressive part of the play was that Cromartie played the route well. He knew that the “go” route was coming, but he just couldn’t keep up with Goodwin.
3. Super Mario’s Sack and Forced Fumble Helps Buffalo Defeat Miami
There was less than three minutes remaining against the Miami Dolphins 21-20 and the Bills were trailing 21-20. The Dolphins had the ball at midfield and on 2nd-and-8, quarterback Ryan Tannehill dropped back to pass the ball.
Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams beat Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo and got to Tannehill. His hit forced the ball free. The fumble was recovered by Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams on the Miami 34-yard line. The play gave Buffalo excellent field position and an opportunity to win the game.
Buffalo’s offense took advantage of Mario’s big play, and after a seven-play drive, Dan Carpenter kicked what would be a game-winning 31-yard field goal.
This has been the biggest play of what has been a fantastic season for Mario Williams.
2. Kiko Alonso’s Interception of Joe Flacco Seals the Game
The Baltimore Ravens were having a nightmarish game, but still had a chance to win as they trailed the Buffalo Bills, 23-20, with 1:04 remaining in the two teams’ Week 4 matchup.
The Ravens had only run the ball nine times all game for a measly 24 yards. Joe Flacco, the MVP of the previous season’s Super Bowl, had thrown four interceptions and been sacked four times. Yet Flacco, who showed his ability to lead game-winning drives in the Baltimore playoff run last season, had one more chance to lead his team to a victory or force overtime.
With the ball on Buffalo’s 48-yard line, Flacco took the shotgun snap and attempted his 50th pass of the game. The short pass intended for tight end Dallas Clark was tipped by Searcy, who had jumped the route. It looked as though the pass was going to hit the turf harmlessly when Buffalo rookie inside linebacker Kiko Alonso dove in for the ball. Alonso was able to get his left hand under the ball and the play was ruled an interception.
After a brief review, the play stood and the Bills took a few knees to seal the victory. A victory over the defending Super Bowl champions was an encouraging sign for the young Bills.
1. EJ Manuel, Stevie Johnson Complete Buffalo’s First Win of the Season
Buffalo trailed the Carolina Panthers, 23-17, with just 1:38 remaining in the teams’ Week 2 matchup, but rookie quarterback Manuel had the opportunity to lead his offense on a game-winning drive.
Manuel took what the Panthers gave him and marched the Bills from their own 20-yard line down to the Carolina 2. With six seconds remaining in the game, Manuel had time to make one game-winning play.
Manuel had Chris Hogan outside to the left and Stevie Johnson inside in the slot. Hogan ran a slant pattern that seemed to confuse the Panthers’ defensive backs. Both players covered Hogan, leaving Johnson wide open to catch a fade pass from Manuel in the end zone. One extra point later, the Bills took the lead and left just two seconds on the clock.
Manuel shared the moment emotionally with his father, who had flown to Buffalo to watch his son play, and after the home team’s first win of the season, it is unlikely the Manuels were the only ones shedding happy tears after the play.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Da'Norris Searcy, EJ Manuel, Game Reviews, Kiko Alonso, Mario Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Stevie Johnson, Top Plays, Week 11, Week 2, Week 4, Week 7