"Holy cow, we won a game!" the Bills guard crowed, his voice echoing throughout the Ralph Wilson Stadium tunnel.
Ten weeks in, the Bills have their first victory. And the Detroit Lions 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 consecutive road game to break the record the Lions set from 2001-03.
"Relief!" cornerback Leodis McKelvin said. "We won. We're not going to be talking about being an 0-16 team or nothing like that. It feels great to get a win and get that off our chests."
It was a more-of-the-same feeling for the Lions, who have not won outside of Detroit since a 16-7 victory at Chicago on Oct. 28, 2007.
"It was really frustrating, especially coming here and feeling we were the better team," receiver Calvin Johnson said. "We weren't thinking about the streak. That should have ended it. But it didn't."
In a game billed as a Futility Bowl, something had to give in a contest that wasn't at all pretty.
|Detroit's NFL-record 25th straight road loss rests squarely on their own shoulders. Detroit beat themselves with coverage errors, careless penalties, and the inability to convert scoring opportunities. Their late TD proves the Lions have the talent to be a winning team, but they lack the ability to finish.|
|By John Kreger|
|It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Bills finally picked up their first win of the year. Fred Jackson led the way with two TDs (one rushing, one receiving) and the defense stopped a two-point conversion attempt in the game’s closing seconds. ||By Mark Ludwiczak|
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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 immediately ran over to the sideline to hug coach Chan Gailey, in honor of the coach's first win in Buffalo since he took over in January.
The Bills won by hanging on in the end, and making, perhaps, one less mistake than the Lions.
Detroit's chances to pull off a comeback ended when quarterback Shaun Hill hit 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 already began celebrating. Defensive end Marcus Stroud sat on the field and cheered. And in the stands, fans started several chants, the most over-the-top being: "Super Bowl, here we come!"
"Our fans deserve it," tackle Kyle Williams said. "The guys in the locker room deserve it. To go out there and win a football game, it means a lot."
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. And the win came after three consecutive weeks of close calls, in which Buffalo lost each of its past three games by three points -- two in overtime, and last week's 22-19 loss to Chicago at Toronto.
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 12 of 24 for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Bills did lose rookie running back C.J. Spiller to a hamstring injury in the second half.
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 into action in place of Matthew Stafford, who hurt his right shoulder in a loss to the New York Jets last week. Johnson had 10 catches for 128 yards.
Ahead 7-3 at halftime, the Bills appeared take complete control when they scored on their opening drive of the third quarter capped by Jackson scoring on a 16-yard catch off a shovel pass from Fitzpatrick.
Costly mistakes prevented the Bills from building on their lead.
A holding call against Buffalo's Jon Corto negated what would've been McKelvin's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown with 5:40 left in the third quarter. And 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.
The most comical play came late in the second quarter when 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. The Lions then settled for a 25-yard field goal by Dave Rayner as time ran out.
The Lions were equally inept.
They 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 Rayner missed a 49-yard field-goal attempt early in the fourth quarter. Hill's interception set up Jackson's first score.
"All this killing ourselves and making mistakes, it's almost juvenile," Lions receiver Nate Burleson said. "The mistakes are killing us, and today I really noticed it."
- 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.
- Fitzpatrick extended his streak to 10 games with a TD pass, the most since Drew Bledsoe had a 10-game streak for Buffalo in 2002.
- Bills DE Spencer Johnson left with a hamstring injury in the second half. Gailey would only say that Johnson's injury is less severe than Spiller's, and he doubted Spiller will play next week at Cincinnati.