Bills’ Defense Steps Up, Down Go Faulk, Colts
Ted Washington was waiting, and Marshall Faulk ran right into his trap.
Washington stopped Faulk with a fourth-down, ankle-grabbing tackle at the Buffalo four on Sunday, saving the Bills’ 16-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
“When you’re that close to the goal line and with his speed, he wanted to jump over the top behind his lead blocker,” Washington said. “It was just a basic lead play. I was in the right place at the right time and met him in the backfield.”
The Bills stopped Faulk on three successive runs from inside the three-yard line on that series late in the third quarter. On the next Indianapolis possession, early in the fourth quarter, the defense forced Faulk to fumble.
“When the offense is hurt, the defense has to step up,” said Buffalo linebacker Bryce Paup, referring to the absence of running back Thurman Thomas and receiver Andre Reed, both still out because of hamstring injuries.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak under acting coach Elijah Pitts, subbing while Marv Levy recuperates from prostate cancer surgery.
“We were a little flat the last two games and we wanted to show people we are a good defense and can stop an offense if we had to,” said Paup, who had 11 tackles and three sacks. “It’s a relief. There’s been a lot of adversity, and everybody wanted to win for Eli.”
A 51-yard touchdown pass play from Jim Kelly to Bill Brooks and three field goals by Steve Christie were all Buffalo (6-3) needed offensively.
But after a 37-yard field goal by Cary Blanchard early in the third quarter, the Colts (5-4) twice threatened go-ahead touchdowns. Craig Erickson, who relieved Jim Harbaugh, passed 39 yards to Ken Dilger. An eight-yard run by Faulk took the Colts to the three before the three big stops by the Bills.
Harbaugh, who suffered a strained groin last week, tried to play but couldn’t.
Early in the fourth quarter, after Erickson passed for 33 yards to Aaron Bailey, Bruce Smith forced Faulk to fumble and Henry Jones recovered at the Bills’ 20.
Another fumble by the Colts’ Ben Bronson on a punt return gave Buffalo the ball at the Indianapolis 23, but Christie missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt with 1:56 to go.
The Colts’ last drive ended on downs less than a minute later.
“The first thing I want to do is donate this victory to Coach Levy,” Pitts said. “After that, I can’t tell you really what a relief this was to get this weight off my back. . . . They knew what they had to do and came out and did it.”