Rare Byrd leads Bills to win

Marshawn Lynch (Getty Images)

Behind rookie Jairus Byrd's two picks, Buffalo earned another gritty win. This one, a 20-9 win in Carolina. Marshawn Lynch (left) ran for one touchdown and Lee Evans caught another to lead the Bills. It wasn't pretty, but the Bills will take it...

Excuse me, Jake Delhomme?

Don't you know about the Byrd?

Everyone knows that the Byrd is the word!

Hey frightened Panther's offense – the Byrd is the word!

Jairus Byrd, the Buffalo Bill's rookie safety out of Oregon, is quickly and effectively making a case to start in the secondary.

Buffalo drafted Byrd, a collegiate cornerback, to see if they could transform him into a ballhawking safety. Byrd has exceeded everyone's wildest expectations, hauling in five – count ‘em, five – picks in three games. Buffalo's two touchdowns came directly from Byrd's interceptions.

When looking at the numbers, Buffalo should not have won this game. The defense, as well as it played, allowed Jake Delhomme to throw for 325 yards. He completed passes to eight different receivers.

The defense gave up 115 yards to Carolina's deadly backfield threat in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Steve Smith, who said he was "no longer an asset," had almost 100 yards in receiving.

However, Buffalo's defense did two things that kept Carolina's offense at bay. First, they slammed the door whenever Carolina came knocking. The unit allowed no points through the first three and a half quarters, shutting down any red-zone efficiency Carolina may have had and John Kasay missed two field goals.

Second, Buffalo picked off Delhomme three times. If not for those picks, the Bills would not have won. Byrd set up both Marshawn Lynch's touchdown run and Lee Evans' touchdown snap. Lynch's run was the first rushing touchdown of the season.

Let's not forget about Buffalo's special teams, a unit that has improved by leaps and bounds the past two weeks.

Brian Moorman dropped multiple punts inside Carolina's 20-yard-line and John Wendling continues to impress. Wendling was a beast on coverage, torching the Panther's protection and either forcing a fair catch or dragging the return man down – immediately after he got the ball. Derek Fine also had a fumble recovery near the end of the game that gave Buffalo crucial possession time.

The offense? Not nearly as productive. Again, Buffalo struggled to move the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick, starting in place for the injured Trent Edwards, completed just 11 passes. However, on some of his incompletions he was knocked down or under pressure. Give credit to Fitzpatrick for not tossing any interceptions in his first start with Buffalo. He didn't throw the game away.

Terrell Owens dropped multiple passes, and continues to be a frustration for Buffalo. Lee Evans, on the other hand, caught a perfect strike for a touchdown. When Fitzpatrick went deep to him near the end of the game, he corrected his speed and caught it – in double coverage, no less. Evans finished with 75 yards on five catches, clearly playing much better with Fitzpatrick under center.

The ground game had trouble getting anything going. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch combined for a meager 42 yards. Granted, the offensive line had difficulty opening holes, but the Bills need to establish a ground game.

Just like last week, this win was ugly. But give Buffalo credit for winning another underdog victory on the road. The defense and special teams are keeping this team afloat. Namely, Jairus Byrd is emerging as a game-changer in deep center. A lack of penalties was another huge factor. However, if Buffalo wants to compete with the big dogs and make a playoff push, then the offense has to start clicking.

It wasn't pretty, but Buffalo took another baby step today in becoming a playoff contender.

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