Toronto warms up to Bills in 23-0 win over ‘SkinsBy JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer Monday, Oct 31, 2011
“This was definitely the most exciting crowd we’ve had since we’ve played up here,” Wilson said. “It was definitely a lot better.”
The Great White North isn’t as cold as it used to be toward the Bills, whose hot start and resilient lineup of No-Namers is now getting love and respect on both sides of the border. And winning has its benefits, as Wilson and the Bills discovered during a 23-0 win over the Washington Redskins in Buffalo’s second home on Sunday.
Despite several large pockets of Redskins fans at Rogers Centre, and an announced crowd about 3,000 short of the stadium’s 54,000-seat capacity, the Bills got a majority of the cheers throughout the game. And that included fans doing the wave in the fourth quarter, which actually caused Buffalo’s offense to jump.
No problem, said Wilson.
“Earlier in the week, I know I was very critical of the environment,” Wilson said. “I talked about giving this crowd something to cheer about as opposed to us giving up plays on defense and them cheering for the other team.”
It was Buffalo’s first win in four trips north since the cross-border annual series was established. And the Bills came out of their bye week to improve to 5-2, which puts them in a tie with New England atop the AFC East.
Wilson had one of Buffalo’s two interceptions, and the defense finished with nine sacks—two short of matching a team record—in handing Washington’s Mike Shanahan his first shutout in 24 seasons as an NFL coach or offensive coordinator, according to STATS LLC.
“It’s pretty humbling to take that,” Shanahan said. “That’s as bad as I’ve ever been involved with from the offensive side.”
The Redskins (3-4) have lost three straight and look nothing like the team that entered its bye week at 3-1. Washington continues to unravel as a result of a growing list of injuries.
Without running back Tim Hightower(notes) (knee), receiver Santana Moss(notes) (hand) and tight end Chris Cooley(notes) (knee), the John Beck(notes)-led attack managed 61 yards of offense and three first downs on six first-half possessions. And they finished with 178 yards total—including a meager 26 rushing—and 10 first downs.
“Things went wrong in every facet imaginable today,” defensive lineman Barry Cofield(notes) said. “You want to give yourself a chance to win because things can change quickly, and momentum can shift. But we weren’t even close.”
The Redskins had no answer for Buffalo’s balanced offensive approach.
Running back Fred Jackson(notes) had 120 yards rushing, and 74 receiving. With 1,074 yards from scrimmage, he became only the fourth Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards seven games into a season, and first since Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas in 1991.
Shrugging off a lost fumble and interception, Fitzpatrick went 21 of 27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns—both to tight end Scott Chandler(notes). He also bounced back from a nasty hit from linebacker London Fletcher(notes) late in the second quarter.
Fletcher, facing his former team, caught Fitzpatrick high on the chest and bowled him over just as the quarterback completed a short pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 46-yard gain. Fitzpatrick was slow in getting up and then dropped to one knee.
“I think the whole team had a collective gasp when they saw him down there trying to suck air,” Jackson said. “It was good for him to get back in there. … He’s a huge part of what we do.”
Chandler was also relieved, but not too worried.
“We know Fitz is tough,” Chandler said. “He’s going to get back up.”
Notes: Chandler has six TDs this season, tying a franchise record for tight ends. … The Bills have blocked field-goal attempts in consecutive games after DE Spencer Johnson got his hand on Graham Gano’s(notes) 49-yard attempt in the second quarter. … The Redskins have lost six in a row to Buffalo since beating the Bills in the 1992 Super Bowl. … Beck went 20 of 33 for 208 yards and two interceptions in his second straight start since replacing Rex Grossman(notes).