Meadville Tribune

Sports

December 1, 2013

Bryant’s overtime field goal lifts Falcons over Bills

TORONTO — The Falcons made the Bills unravel in Buffalo’s home away from home.

Atlanta took advantage of two fumbles to pull out a 34-31 win on Matt Bryant’s 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime in Buffalo’s annual home game at Toronto on Sunday.

Falcons safety William Moore set up the decisive score in a back-and-forth game by forcing a fumble on Buffalo’s second play in the extra period. He punched the ball out of the arms of Bills tight end Scott Chandler. The fumble was recovered by Robert Alford, who then lateraled it to Desmond Trufant, who returned it to Buffalo’s 47.

Cornerback Robert McClain also forced a fumble on the Bills’ final possession of regulation, when he knocked the ball out of the hands of receiver Stevie Johnson at the Falcons 30 with 20 seconds remaining.

Steven Jackson scored twice, including a 1-yard plunge with 1:28 left for the Falcons (3-9). Atlanta snapped a five-game skid and won for the first time in six road games this season. Antone Smith also scored on a 38-yard run, while Tony Gonzalez scored on an 11-yard pass from Matt Ryan.

Bryant also made a 49-yarder that tied the game at 17 at the end of the half.

The Bills (4-8) pretty much are out of playoff contention for a 14th straight season, extending the NFL’s longest active streak. They will also finish their ninth straight season without a winning record.

Fred Jackson scored twice for Buffalo. Fellow running back C.J. Spiller had 149 yards rushing and a score.

The Bills squandered a 14-0 lead and were unable to hang on while ahead 31-24 against an opponent already eliminated from playoff contention.

Jackson’s score came a play after Bills cornerback Nickell Robey was flagged for interfering with Harry Douglas in the end zone. The penalty came with Atlanta facing third-and-goal from 11.

Atlanta receiver Roddy White had 10 catches for 143 yards to nearly double his season total. Ryan went 28 of 47 for 311 yards and a touchdown.

There was plenty of entertainment in the sixth installment of the yearly Bills In Toronto series at the domed Rogers Center.

The Beach Boys, minus leader Brian Wilson, played the halftime show, and even embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford showed up, causing a stir late in the first quarter. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor,” arrived with just over five minutes left wearing a No. 22 Fred Jackson jersey just as Buffalo’s running back scored on a 4-yard run.

Few fans at midfield in the first level behind the Falcons’ bench saw the score, with many of them fixated on Ford’s arrival. Ford was flanked by his two personal security guards and with police officers and stadium security nearby. As he settled into his VIP-section seat, he was spotted munching on — what else? — a Buffalo chicken wing.

And as in the past, the series continues to have difficulty generating buzz in Toronto  or draw a full house. The announced paid attendance was 38,969, well short of the stadium’s NFL capacity of 46,470, not including suites. There were large pockets of empty seats in the upper bowl.

Also familiar was a larger-than-usual contingent of visiting team fans — with numerous people wearing Falcons gear — and fans wearing other NFL team colors. There were even jerseys of Buffalo’s AFC East rivals, New England and Miami.

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