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Bills had nose for ball vs. Denver

The Buffalo Bills defense' returned to the good old days -- otherwise known as the first seven weeks of the season -- to end the team's seven-game losing streak.

Way back when, the Bills were rather prosperous with takeaways, which set up the offense with good field position or, better yet, were returned for touchdowns.

After intercepting Denver's Tim Tebow four times in Saturday's 40-14 victory over the Broncos, the Bills are tied for the league lead with Detroit for touchdowns after an interception with five. The Bills are also tied with the Lions for fourth in the NFL with 20 interceptions. Until Saturday, the Bills had just one interception in the last six games. They got all four in the second half.

Here's a breakdown of the interceptions:

With 37 seconds left in the third quarter, the Bills were in a 4-3 with the secondary in man coverage. Defensive end Chris Kelsay speed rushed past Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin and closed in on Tebow, forcing him to his right where he isn't nearly as effective throwing on the run. Scrambling bought Tebow some time but he let fly just before defensive end Dwan Edwards came in. This forced Tebow to overthrow tight end Julius Thomas and into the hands of rookie Justin Rogers. The Bills' tight coverage in the secondary gave Tebow few options because no one was open.

At the time, it was only the third interception thrown by Tebow this season.

*With 8:14 left in the game, the Broncos worked from an empty shotgun set in a four by one formation from their own 10 while the Bills were in a nickel with four down linemen. With four receivers to Tebow's left and only three defensive backs near the line, the Broncos could have run a screen pass, but Tebow was locked in on Eric Decker, who ran a fly pattern from the slot. Free safety Jairus Byrd came from the middle of the secondary, stepped in front of the pass and then weaved his way down the right sideline and scored.

"They were just in a formation that we recognized and have been practicing," Byrd said. "Tebow just dropped back and threw it to where we thought he was going to throw it."

It wasn't a bad idea by Tebow because Decker was uncovered and if he looked off Byrd to his right, the Bills would have gotten burned for a big play.

"I was watching him," Byrd said. "Anytime you're back in the deep middle you've got to key the quarterback. Kind of stared him down, knew where he wanted to go."

It turned out to be Byrd's second interception for a touchdown in his career and the Bills didn't wait long for pickoff No. 3.

*After last week's loss to Miami, an emotional Kelsay said the Bills' locker room was so dour during the losing streak that it appeared as if they "didn't expect to win." The way he performed Saturday it was like Kelsay told everyone, "follow my lead."

On Tebow's third interception, Kelsay once again speed rushed Franklin, but this time he got to Tebow and slapped the QB's throwing arm with his left hand as he was passing. Spencer Johnson inhaled the errant throw and rumbled into the end zone.

"I didn't see the guy coming and he just hit my arm as I was throwing it and it went up," Tebow said. "It was kind of a crazy play."

*Cameras showed a Bills attendant placing the ball inside a case with the other two intercepted balls and there was room for one more.

Tebow moved Denver into the red zone but his pass intended for Eddie Royal in the end zone was picked off by Aaron Williams, who was fundamentally sound in his coverage. First, Williams put his hand out to see where Royal was before he made a double move. Williams waited patiently until Royal turned around then he turned and made the interception.

Instead of placing the ball in the case with the others, Williams handed it to a fan seated behind the Bills' bench.

No big deal. The Bills had more than enough keepsakes.

email: rmckissic@buffnews.com