Playoff stakes were high again for the Buffalo Bills. But this time, they finished the job to stay alive.
This time, Buffalo's offense came alive late in the fourth quarter to top the Houston Texans, 30-21, at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "Shout" played and playoff hopes remain alive for Rex Ryan's 6-6 team.
Player of the Game: Give it up to LeSean McCoy. At 27, with tons of tread on the tire, he keeps proving he has a lot of gas left in the tank. His vision and explosion were on point all game long. And on Buffalo's final offensive drive, he started one right run, cut back against the grain left and left Jadeveon Clowney and Quintin Demps both in the dust to gain the corner for 20 yards. The play jumpstarted the drive, as McCoy finished with 112 yards on 21 attempts. He left briefly to undergo the concussion protocol but was back in time to finish.
Play of the Game: Tight end Charles Clay's day was not perfect. He alligator-armed one catch deep middle earlier. But this splashy off-season signing paid off in a big way with the game on the line. Clay broke free with 1:53 left to haul in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Tyrod Taylor and give Buffalo a 27-21 lead. It appeared to be a botched coverage by Houston but, hey, Buffalo will take it. Taylor celebrated with linemen at midfield, the stadium erupted and tight ends coach Tony Sparano Jr. wrapped Clay into a hear hug on the sideline.
Special teams issues: There were more problems here again for the Bills. Kicker Dan Carpenter missed a field goal and an extra point before his 36-yard attempt sealed the win for Buffalo. And a late Marcus Thigpen punt return to Houston's 13-yard line was wiped out by a Ron Brooks penalty.
"D" holds up: Buffalo lost two more players on defense. Inside linebacker Tony Steward (who was replacing starter Nigel Bradham) left with a back injury, as cornerback Stephon Gilmore left with a shoulder injury. Unlike last week, they found a way to compensate. Bacarri Rambo was a force all game long. He had a blitz and a sack early and then absolutely smashed Cecil Shorts III on a third down in the fourth quarter to get Houston's offense off the field. He's getting comfortable at safety. ... Most important, the Bills defense got a step when they needed it. After Carpenter's missed extra point sucked the life out of The Ralph, the group stepped up to force four straight Brian Hoyer incompletions. The first two were drops. As a unit, Buffalo hit the quarterback six times after zero a week ago.
J.J. Watt, neutralized: The Bills were down both starters on the right side of their line --- where J.J. Watt typically roams --- but were able to keep the best defensive player in the game in check. They made sure to run away from Watt when possible and double-teamed him, too. But what seemed like potential disaster was not for the Bills. Jordan Mills and Kraig Urbik held up fine. Watt's final line? Four tackles, one for loss.
Stat of the Game: 36.3 yards per catch for Sammy Watkins (3-109-1). Quarterback Tyrod Taylor did not hesitate at all uncorking deep balls to his No. 1 weapon Sunday, finding Watkins deep in single and double coverage against Houston. Taylor was efficient again. He didn't put the ball in harm's way, completing 11 of 21 passes for 203 yards, three touchdowns and a 127.2 passer rating. This ratio of 36 runs and 21 passes is probably what Greg Roman wants.
Up Next: Buffalo now heads to Philadelphia where McCoy will face his former team. There's still plenty to play for into December.