First quarter: Coughing it up
Bills running back Fred Jackson has fumbled more than usual this season. Jackson fumbled on a run up the middle at the St. Louis 14 to foil a 52-yard march by the Bills. It was Jackson’s fourth lost fumble and fifth fumble overall. Jackson has a fumble for every 30 touches this season.
Last year Jackson fumbled only twice, or once every 105 touches.
Key plays: The Bills got a 35-yard field goal from Rian Lindell for the only points of the quarter.
Ball hogs: The Bills held the ball for 11 minutes.
Third down and out: The Bills held Jacksonville to just 1 of 10 conversions last week. The Rams failed on each of their first three third-down tries. A well-timed blitz on a third-and-10 play helped force an incompletion on the third Rams try.
Second-guess: C.J. Spiller picked up a first down with a nifty 15-yard gain on a screen pass to the Rams’ 42-yard line. However, Spiller went to the sideline and was off the field for the next five plays. The Bills moved into position for Lindell’s field goal.
Second quarter: Whistle stop
The Bills’ defense kept the Rams under wraps in the second quarter and almost came up with a score.
Bills linebacker Bryan Scott made a good breakup of a short pass at the Buffalo 38 and cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted the deflection. Gilmore returned the pickoff 62 yards for an apparent touchdown but Kyle Moore was called for holding against Rams tackle Barry Richardson on Gilmore’s return. The Bills took over at the Rams’ 49 and drove to a 40-yard Rian Lindell field goal.
Replays showed Moore did not commit a hold, but Saffold dived to the ground to make it look like a penalty.
“He deserves an Oscar for his performance,” Moore said. “I pulled up [on the block]. I let it go.”
Second-guess: The Bills did not manage the clock well at the end of the half. They had first down at the Rams’ 34 with 1:04 left and all three timeouts but never took a shot downfield. It would have been better to call timeout with 51 seconds left after a Fitzpatrick pass to Fred Jackson went for no gain. Jackson was on the field for a run two plays later instead of Spiller.
Third quarter: In good hands
Bills No. 2 tight end Lee Smith has four catches this season and two are for touchdowns.
Smith capped the Bills’ 75-yard, third-quarter drive with a 2-yard TD catch. It was a typical sucker bootleg pass near the goal line. The Bills lined up in a bunched-up, “jumbo” formation. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick faked a handoff and ran a bootleg to the right. Smith sneaked off the line of scrimmage and was wide open in the end zone. The score gave the Bills a 12-7 edge with 3:26 left in the quarter. (Holder Shawn Powell dropped the snap on the extra-point try, which failed.)
Smith, the Bills’ 6-foot-6, 265-pound blocking tight end, averages 17 plays a game, or 25 percent of the snaps.
Key plays: The Rams took the second-half kickoff and drove 70 yards in 11 plays to a touchdown. Steven Jackson converted it on a 1-yard plunge with 8:37 left.
Best vault: Fred Jackson vaulted over low-diving Rams defender Quintin Mikell for an extra-effort 7-yard gain that converted a third-and-6 play on the Bills’ scoring drive. The play moved the ball to the Rams’ 27.
Fourth quarter: Sam’s the man
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford showed the talent of an NFL No. 1 overall draft pick with the game on the line.
The Rams’ third-year quarterback drove his team 84 yards in 14 plays to the winning touchdown, a 13-yard pass to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds left.
“[Bradford] understands what’s going on,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He has respect for the defense, respect for their cover ability. We even talked about it last night. There’s gonna be some balls knocked down. There’s gonna be times where we get off the field on third down without converting. But if we just hang in there, someone needs to make a play. And he did.”
Bradford completed a 9-yard pass on a fourth-and-1 play and a 13-yard pass on a third-and-10.
Good punt: Rams punter Johnny Hekker managed to boot the ball 25 yards after the snap went over his head on the first play of the quarter. The punt only managed to get back to the line of scrimmage. But he kept it from being blocked, and the Bills could not convert the short field into a score.