Opportunistic Bills Pounce on Panthers, 20-9

Posted on October 25, 2009 by Patrick Moran

There’s still a pulse in Buffalo. The Bills turned a pair of rookie Jairus Byrd interceptions into 14 points and played excellent overall defense in defeating the Carolina Panthers, 20-9.  They improve to 3-4 on the season.

Byrd continued his superb rookie season in the first quarter, picking off an overthrown Jake Delhomme pass and returning it to the Panthers seven. Two plays later Marshawn Lynch scored an easy touchdown on a seven-yard run to give Buffalo the 7-0 lead. It was the Bills first rushing touchdown in 213 attempts, going all the way back to last season.

After a punt by Jason Baker pinned the Bills inside the five, followed by a false start by Demetrius Bell backing them another two yards, Fred Jackson was tackled in the end zone by Hollis Thomas for a Carolina safety.

The Bills offense was rancid throughout the entire first half. They amassed a grand total of 39 yards, 18 of them coming on a catch by Terrell Owens. They earned just two first downs and held the ball for less than eight minutes (7:40). Yet they led at the half, 7-2. Buffalo was helped by Carolina kicker John Kasey, who missed field goal attempts of 43 and 39 yards.

Carolina finally got something going offensively in the third quarter. Delhomme connected with tight end Gary Barnidge, who beat Terrence McGee for 52 yards. But later in the drive when Carolina faced a fourth and one from Buffalo’s 13, Jonathan Stewart was stopped for a loss by Chris Draft, Paul Posluszny and Byrd.

Following Brian Moorman’s seventh punt of the game, Carolina was driving for a score. However, Delhomme threw a pass that Steve Smith barely to a finger on and went into the waiting hands of Byrd for his second interception. His 30 yard return to the Panthers 27 eventually led to a two yard Ryan Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans score to put Buffalo up 14-2.

Byrd has five interceptions on the season, including four in the last two weeks.

In very un-Dick Jauron fashion, the Bills refused to loosen the noose after going up two scores. After getting the ball back following a Carolina punt, Fitzpatrick went deep on first down to Evans for a 50-yard strike. It was the longest Buffalo completion of the season. It resulted in a 30-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.

Carolina appeared dead before suddenly showing life in the fourth quarter. On fourth down Delhomme connected with Smith, who beat Reggie Corner for 48 yards. Later on the same drive on fourth and one, DeAngelo Williams ran through Marcus Stroud and Byrd on his way to the end zone to cut the score to 17-9.

The game got even tighter when Buffalo failed to gain a first down on their next series. But on  Moorman’s eighth punt, the ball hit Carolina returner Kenny Moore and came lose. Bills’ tight end Derek Fine fell on it and the Bills finally caught a special teams break. Buffalo proceeded to milk the clock down to two minutes before a Lindell chip shot put Buffalo them up by the final 11-point margin.

George Wilson picked off Delhomme as Carolina made a last gasp effort to score. It was Buffalo’s ninth interception in the past two games.

We’ll have plenty more on the game tomorrow morning. Now go and enjoy the win.

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