Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 30, 2013

MEILER: Bills' Williams, defensive backs earn redemption

Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK — The last time the Buffalo Bills beat the defending Super Bowl champions, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed still roamed the field (with Todd Collins replacing Jim Kelly) on September 22, 1996 at Rich Stadium as the Bills topped the Dallas Cowboys, 10-7.

The Bills had gone 0-7 against defending champs since then, with six of those losses coming against the New England Patriots in the 2000s.

Sunday, for the first time in 17 years, the Bills beat last year’s best, thanks in large part to the play of a ragtag group of defensive backs that looked like a glaring weakness just a week ago.

One week after getting torched by New York Jets rookie Geno Smith, the defensive backfield made life difficult for 2012 Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, grabbing five interceptions on the way to a win.

Sure, Flacco threw for 347 yards — 16 more than Smith last week. And yes, there were breakdowns for long gains, but the play of Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard (and of course rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso) was the biggest surprise of the early season.

Williams was moved to strong safety before this season because of questions about his ability to play cornerback — doubts that went back to before he was drafted, when experts questioned his hip movement and agility. He was expected to start at safety, but injuries forced him back to cornerback for this week despite his struggles there last season.

Searcy was pencilled in as a backup safety before the season, and Leonhard was signed one week before the opener when Jairus Byrd went down with a foot injury.

The three teamed up for big plays on four of Flacco’s five interceptions. Williams grabbed two INTs, one on a Flacco misread and another on an athletic play on a deep pass. Leonard grabbed an opportunistic pick on a tipped pass by Baltimore tight end Ed Dickson, and Searcy laid a perfectly-timed hit on Dallas Clark during Baltimore’s final, forcing the ball to pop up and leading to Alonso’s second interception.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page