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Passing Game Leads To Thrilling Win
by Steve Saslow
Sept. 16, 2002

Drew BledsoeThe Bills pulled out a wild win in overtime on the strength of the right arm of quarterback Drew Bledsoe and some big defensive plays in between the Viking marches for scores. Here are our position by position grades:


Drew Bledsoe threw for a career high 463 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He calmly led the Bills to the tying field goal with only :21 on the clock after the Vikings took the lead. Completing 35 of 49 passes when there was no running game was awesome. Grade A+: Bledsoe already worth next year's number one pick.

Running Backs:

Travis Henry wasn't much of a factor as the Bills gave up on the running game early, reminding some of last year. He had just 12 carries for 30 yards and no receptions. Larry Centers was more of a factor with four catches for 44 yards. He was the running back in the game on the final drive in regulation and in overtime as the Bills went exclusively to a passing attack. He had a big 13 yard completion to start the field goal drive at the end of regulation. Grade C-: Centers is found in the offense, while Henry was put in mothballs.


Peerless Price had a huge day catching a career high 13 passes for a whopping 185 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner. Josh Reed scored his first NFL touchdown as he caught 8 passes for 110 yards. His only blemish was a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the failed two point conversion attempt. Jay Riemersma caught only two passes but his second catch setup the winning touchdown pass in overtime. Grade A+: Price is becoming Bledsoe's go to guy.

Offensive Line:

The line allowed three sacks but that isn't bad considering the Bills were throwing on almost every down. Some of the sacks were coverage sacks as the Bills had some good protection. The run blocking suffered but the Bills only ran the ball 13 times. Kudos to the group for only committing one false start penalty despite the noise inside the dome. Grade B+: Did their share in the victory.

Defensive Line:

It was an up and down day for this unit. On the negative side there were gaping holes for the Vikings running game as they amassed 213 yards on the ground. On the positive side Aaron Schobel had three sacks and a forced fumble. Kendrick Office recovered a fumble that setup a field goal. Ron Edwards fell on a loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Pat Williams helped force that fumble but he tried to pick it up instead of falling on it, that could have cost the Bills a touchdown. Grade B: The good out weighs the bad.


This unit takes their share of the blame for the big day on the ground by the Vikings. Keith Newman had a sack and a forced fumble as he made big plays early. London Fletcher was called for a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to a Minnesota touchdown. Eddie Robinson was in on 8 tackles. Grade C-: Struggled for the most part.


The unit struggled to stop Randy Moss. Chris Watson, Nate Clements, and Antoine Winfield took turns getting beat although Clements broke up one touchdown pass to Moss. Pierson Prioleau had a team high 12 tackles as he made plays everywhere. Grade C: Did the best they could against a solid passing attack.

Special Teams:

The 61 yard punt return by D'Wayne Bates setup an easy touchdown and was deja vu of last week against the Jets. There was redemption when Charlie Rogers went untouched for a 90 yard score on the ensuing kickoff. A perfect wedge was made for him. Mike Hollis became the first Bills kicker to kick two 50+ yard field goals in a game. His only blemish was the 44 yard miss in overtime. Grade C: It may be time to put starters on the coverage units.


Going exclusively to the no huddle offense in overtime was a shrewd move by Kevin Gilbride. It was obvious the passing game was the only way the team would win. Danny Smith needs to demand more starters on special teams. Grade B: A huge building block for the young team.

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