In the End, Bills' Quarterback Made the Plays
Monday, December 3, 2007
Late in the fourth quarter, Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Trent Edwards sat on the sideline, watching the clock tick down as the Washington Redskins drove downfield. The Bills were trailing by two and the Redskins had just picked up a first down, but Edwards held out hope that he would get another chance to lead his team to victory.
"I was sitting on the sideline and thinking to myself, 'Mentally stay in this game,' " he said.
And when the Bills' defense forced a Redskins punt, Edwards jogged onto the field with 56 seconds remaining and no timeouts, confident that he would be able to drive his team down the field.
Edwards did just that, completing three straight passes, including a key 30-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver Josh Reed, to set up Rian Lindell's game-winning field goal in Buffalo's 17-16 victory.
For the Bills, it was a drive that players and coaches said was vital for a team that had twice been beaten on last-second field goals this season.
"It was nice to be on that side of one of those late wins," Bills Coach Dick Jauron said. "It's just amazing what a one-point difference in a football game makes in one locker room to the other. We've been where they are and that's not a good feeling, and of course we're total jubilation in our locker room. Just getting that win, evening our record at 6-6, fighting to try to stay in the picture somehow."
The Bills needed just three plays on the final drive before getting into field goal range. On the first play, Edwards dumped a quick five-yard pass to running back Fred Jackson, who was tackled inbounds by cornerback Fred Smoot, keeping the clock running. Edwards then hurried the team to the line of scrimmage, and with 35 seconds remaining he found wide receiver Roscoe Parrish on a short curl route on the left side. Parrish made a quick move to avoid a Redskins tackler and get out of bounds to stop the clock, picking up 10 yards.
With the clock stopped, the Bills huddled and called a play they felt would best exploit the cover-2 defense the Redskins had used on the previous two plays.
On the play, former Redskin Robert Royal ran an inside route to take one safety out of the picture. Reed ran a deep route across the middle from the right, just behind the Redskins' linebackers. Edwards floated the pass over the linebackers and Reed grabbed the ball between several defenders before scampering downfield and sliding at the 33-yard line, a 30-yard gain.
"It was a matter of just getting the ball up and over that linebacker," Edwards said. "And Josh is a great receiver, I knew that. It was just a matter of getting him the ball and letting him make the play."
With eight seconds left, Lindell nailed a 51-yard field goal, but Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs had called a timeout just before the kick. Then, as the Bills lined up take a second kick, the Redskins again tried to call timeout, which resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Lindell a 36-yard attempt. Lindell made the kick, his 17th straight to tie Steve Christie's franchise record for most consecutive kicks.
After the game, Jauron said he was impressed with Edwards, who has rotated as the starting quarterback with four-year veteran J.P. Losman.
"I like his demeanor; he doesn't look rattled, to me, on the field," Jauron said. "He did make some mistakes, there was no doubt about that. But in the end, he sits in there and he puts the ball on the money and gives us a chance to win it."
And though his performance at the end of the game may have gone a long way in cementing Edwards's status as the starter, the rookie sidestepped any questions about a possible quarterback controversy and said he was just happy to get the win.
"It was huge," Edwards said. "We've lost so many games like that so far in the season, it feels like. And to be the one walking off the field with a win is something that this team desperately needed."