OT win: Priceless
Bills escape Vikings in 45-39 overtime thrillerPosted: Sunday September 15, 2002 9:01 PM
Peerless Price streaked untouched down the middle of the field for a 48-yard touchdown reception in the extra period, and Bledsoe set career and franchise highs with 463 yards passing Sunday in a wild 45-39 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
"It'd be nice to win one in regulation," Bledsoe admitted.
The Bills, who lost 37-31 to the New York Jets last week when Chad Morton returned the opening kickoff in OT for a touchdown, played back-to-back overtime games for just the second time in their history -- first done in 1987. It was also the third time since 1995 that a team opened a season with two overtime games. Indianapolis split in 1995, as did Tennessee in 1997.
Mike Hollis tied it as time expired in regulation with a career-long 54-yard field goal that bounced over the crossbar. That answered Moe Williams' 3-yard TD run that put the Vikings up 39-36 with 26 seconds left -- the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter.
"It took everything we had," Bledsoe said, "but hopefully this is a step for us in the right direction."
Bledsoe, who became the third-quickest quarterback in NFL history to reach 30,000 yards passing for his career earlier in the game, completed 35 of 49 passes for three touchdowns -- two to Price.
"With Drew, if you're down 40-0, you believe you can win," Price said. "We never thought we were out of it. With Drew in the huddle, the thought of losing never crosses your mind."
Price, whose 3-yard TD catch put Buffalo up 36-32 with 4:19 left in regulation, also had a career day with 13 catches for 185 yards. Rookie Josh Reed had a touchdown among his eight receptions and 110 yards.
Daunte Culpepper, whose three fumbles led to 13 Buffalo points, completed 25 of 45 passes for 281 yards and no interceptions a week after he was picked off with 2 1/2 minutes left by Chicago's Mike Brown to set up the Bears' go-ahead TD.
"I think this will help us toward the end of the season," said Culpepper, who threw TDs to Randy Moss, D'Wayne Bates and Derrick Alexander in addition to running for a score.
"We're good at the start of the game, we're good at the middle of the game," Moss said, "but in the home stretch, we can't seem to get it done."
The touchdown by Williams, who rushed 17 times for 102 yards, capped a 10-play, 60-yard drive highlighted by a one-handed catch by Moss in the flat that put Minnesota at the 3 with 40 seconds and no timeouts remaining.
But the Bills turned right around and reached the Vikings 44 in three plays. Then with 7 seconds left, Bledsoe found Price for 8 yards to set up Hollis for his tying kick.
"Why couldn't it have bounced back toward me?" asked Vikings coach Mike Tice, still looking for his first win. "That's just the way it's going against us right now."
Minnesota's Doug Brien made two field goals but missed another -- as well as two extra points, and Tice indicated he'll find another kicker.
Brien -- nearly cut after missing four of five field goals in the preseason -- was supposed to squib his last kickoff in the fourth quarter before Buffalo's tying drive, but he kicked it deep into the return wedge.
"We played hard and it was there for the taking," Tice said, "but when you miss PATs in this league, you usually don't recover from it. And when yu miss two, there's usually no way to recover."
Hollis made four field goals but missed a 45-yarder on Buffalo's second overtime possession. But Buffalo forced another three-and-out, and Bledsoe found Jay Riemersma open over the middle for 28 yards to the Minnesota 48. Then, Price caught the winning score with 7:30 left.
"This is hard to put into words," Culpepper said.
Notes: Aaron Schobel had three of Buffalo's five sacks. ... The
only other Buffalo quarterback to throw for at least 400 yards was
Joe Ferguson, who had 419 in 1983. Bledsoe's previous high was 426
yards in 1994, also an overtime victory over Minnesota. ...
Bledsoe, playing in his 126th career game, surpassed the
30,000-yard mark with a 14-yard completion to Price midway through
the second quarter. Dan Marino (114 games) and Warren Moon (125)
were the only ones to reach the milestone faster, and Brett Favre
also needed 126 games. ... The Bills, who gave up two TDs on
kickoff returns in an overtime loss last week to the Jets, let
Bates return a punt 61 yards to their 3 early in the second half to
set up a 2-yard TD by Moss. But Buffalo's Charlie Rogers ran back
the subsequent kickoff 90 yards for a TD that tied it at 20.