Bills beat inept Browns 13-6By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer Monday, Dec 13, 2010
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)—It’s probably a good thing the Bills game against the Cleveland Browns was blacked out in the Buffalo area because it wasn’t sold out.
Too bad, Browns fans in Cleveland couldn’t be spared from tuning into this mess.
In a comedy of errors only the NFL’s two franchises that share Lake Erie’s shoreline could produce, the Bills proved less inept than the Browns in pulling out a 13-6 victory Sunday.
“That was, to me, one of those good old-fashioned slugfests,” was how Bills coach Chan Gailey described it.
Of course, his team won for the third time in five games to improve to 3-10 and bounce back from a dreadful collapse at Minnesota last weekend.
At least Browns coach Eric Mangini wasn’t referring to this as an “instant classic,” as he did this week in fondly recalling a 6-3 win over the Bills last year—his first win as Browns coach.
“I’m really disappointed,” Mangini said Sunday. “I don’t think we played very well in any of the three phases.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s(notes) 11-yard touchdown pass and a pair of field goals from Rian Lindell(notes) were enough to end the Browns’ mathematical hopes of staying in the playoff race. Cleveland (5-8) had a two-game win streak snapped and looked nothing like the team that had strung together consecutive wins against New Orleans and New England earlier this season.
The Browns committed three turnovers, including Jake Delhomme’s(notes) fumble and interception that ended two of the team’s final three drives. And that didn’t include the three fumbles—two by Peyton Hillis(notes) and another by Joshua Cribbs(notes)— which the Browns recovered on the same drive in the third quarter.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Browns offense failed to cross midfield in five second-half possessions as part of an outing in which it produced nine first downs and 187 yards.
The Bills and Browns have a history of producing clunkers. This was their fourth annual meeting, a stretch which began in 2007 when the Browns won 8-0 in a game played in whiteout conditions in Cleveland.
Though the projected snowstorm didn’t materialize on Sunday, a cold and persistent drizzle fell for most of the afternoon. The crowd was announced at 50,861, but the 72,000-seat Ralph Wilson Stadium was less than half full.
Down 3-0, the Bills took the lead for good when Fitzpatrick capped a 14-play, 89-yard drive by hitting David Nelson(notes), who made an over-the-shoulder catch in the middle of the end zone with 9:28 left in the second quarter.
The Bills defense then took over in frustrating the Browns.
Two possessions later, the Browns were facing third-and-8 at their own 49 when Delhomme was hit as he released a pass. The ball fluttered high into the air and was intercepted by Leodis McKelvin(notes). The Bills then proceeded to run out the final 3:51.
“We were all disgusted about that performance last week,” Moats said, referring to the loss at Minnesota. “So we were ready to bounce back and we accomplished this.”
Fitzpatrick finished 14 of 23 for 142 yards, and extended his touchdown streak to 14 games—the second longest in team history, and four short of matching the record set by Jim Kelly over the 1986-87 seasons. Fred Jackson(notes) had 112 yards rushing.
“We’re not fighting for a lot but pride right now,” running back Fred Jackson. “We want to come in and finish the season strong.”