Ryan Fitzpatrick quickly made his expensive new contract pay off, and the Buffalo Bills finally gave their adopted - and sometimes indifferent - fans north of the border something big to cheer about.
Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for two touchdowns, and the Bills’ once-porous defense had nine sacks and two interceptions to batter the already injury-riddled Washington Redskins, 23-0, yesterday. It marked Buffalo’s first win in four trips to Toronto since the cross-border series was established in 2008.
And the Bills were the ones drawing much of the applause days after safety George Wilson questioned Toronto fans’ passion and loyalty toward Buffalo.
“That was one of the things coming in, give them something to cheer about. And I thought we did that today,’’ said Fitzpatrick, the former Harvard star who signed a six-year, $59 million contract two days earlier. “I think there was more excitement out there than there has been in years past.’’
Fitzpatrick (21 of 27 for 262 yards) did his part in helping the Bills (5-2) open a season with four consecutive “home’’ wins for the first time since 1995. They are tied for first in the AFC East with the Patriots.
Coming out of its bye week, Buffalo limited the Redskins to 178 yards and 10 first downs. Washington (3-4) has lost three straight.
Without running back Tim Hightower (knee), receiver Santana Moss (hand), and tight end Chris Cooley (knee), the John Beck-led attack managed 61 yards of offense and three first downs on six first-half possessions. Beck finished 20 of 33 for 208 yards.
Fred Jackson had 120 yards rushing and 74 receiving for the Bills, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to surpass 1,000 yards seven games into a season.
Buffalo’s nine sacks were the second most in team history. The Bills had just four entering the game.
Lions 45, Broncos 10
Detroit’s defense throttled host Denver and Tim Tebow, sacking the quarterback seven times and turning his two turnovers into touchdowns. Chris Houston had the fourth 100-yard interception return in Lions history, and defensive end Cliff Avril scooped up a fumble that he forced on a Tebow sack and rumbled 24 yards into the end zone as part of Detroit’s 45-point run.
The Broncos (2-5) took a 3-0 lead on their first drive, a good follow-up to their Tebow-driven comeback win last Sunday at Miami. But after that it was all Lions (6-2). Denver gained just 32 yards on its next 22 snaps before trudging into the locker room trailing, 24-3.
Matthew Stafford showed no ill effects from a sprained right ankle and completed 21 of 30 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns, including a 56-yarder to Calvin Johnson. Stafford also threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Titus Young to give Detroit a 7-3 lead. Tight end Tony Scheffler caught a 1-yard scoring pass against his former team in the second quarter.
Tebow finished 18 of 39 for 172 yards in his second start since replacing Kyle Orton.
Broncos coach John Fox seemed to leave open the possibility of another quarterback change after this debacle. “We’ll look at it and make changes where we see are needed,’’ he said.
Eagles 34, Cowboys 7
Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes, LeSean McCoy had a career-best 185 yards rushing and two scores, and Philadelphia routed Dallas in a showing that lived up to the team’s preseason hype. The Eagles (3-4) dominated from the start, improved to 13-0 after a bye under coach Andy Reid, and snapped a five-game home losing streak that dated to last season.
The Eagles racked up 495 total yards and held the ball for 42:09, thoroughly outplaying a defense that came in ranked seventh in the NFL. Vick completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and led Philadelphia to points on its first six possessions. He also ran for 50 yards.
McCoy had 80 of Philadelphia’s 115 yards rushing in the first quarter - more than Dallas had allowed in any game this season. He had a 2-yard run in the second quarter that provided a 14-0 lead, and finished the Eagles’ scoring with a 13-yard run early in the fourth quarter. McCoy has scored in seven straight games, one short of Steve Van Buren’s team record set in 1947.
DeMarcus Ware was one of the few players who played well for Dallas (3-4). He had four sacks, and has 12 this season. A swarming Philadelphia defense harassed Tony Romo throughout the game. He was sacked four times and finished 18 of 35 for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Bengals 34, Seahawks 12
Cincinnati (5-2) won its fourth straight game to stay tied for second in the AFC North. Andy Dalton threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes in Seattle, Brandon Tate returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown with 3:22 left, and Marvin Lewis became the winningest coach in Bengals history with 65 victories.
Dalton had a 14-yard scoring toss to Jerome Simpson and a beautiful 43-yarder that dropped into the arms of fellow rookie A.J. Green in the second quarter to give the Bengals a 17-3 lead.
Dalton threw a pair of interceptions in the second half and Cincinnati managed only 252 yards of offense, but it kept Seattle (2-5) out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
Mike Nugent’s 48-yard field goal with 4:50 left gave the Bengals a 20-12 lead. Seattle went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and Tate, the former Patriot, sealed the game with Cincinnati’s first punt return for a score since 2003.
As a capper, Reggie Nelson intercepted Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson and raced 75 yards for a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining.
49ers 20, Browns 10
Frank Gore ran for both 125-plus yards and a touchdown in a fourth straight game to help host San Francisco to its fifth consecutive win and first 6-1 start since 1998. Gore wound up with 134 yards on a season-high 31 carries and passed Roger Craig for second place on the franchise rushing list with 7,089 yards.
Alex Smith passed for 177 yards and a touchdown, a 2-yarder to Michael Crabtree that put the Niners ahead, 17-0, just before halftime
The banged-up Browns (3-4) managed only Phil Dawson’s 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first half before Josh Cribbs’s 45-yard touchdown catch with 6:17 to play. It was Cleveland’s first trip to the end zone in seven quarters.
Texans 24, Jaguars 14
Matt Schaub threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score as host Houston (5-3) got off to its best eight-game start, took another step toward the franchise’s first division title and playoff berth by improving to 3-0 in the AFC South.
Arian Foster rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, and the Texans shut down rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the NFL’s worst offense. Gabbert, making his sixth start, completed 10 of 30 passes for 97 yards with two interceptions. He left briefly in the first quarter with bruised ribs.
The Jaguars (2-6) couldn’t carry momentum from their surprising 12-7 win over Baltimore last Monday night. Maurice Jones-Drew scored with 5:15 left to pull Jacksonville within 21-14, but the Texans used nearly the rest of regulation to set up Neil Rackers’s 39-yard field goal.
Vikings 24, Panthers 21
Adrian Peterson had 162 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns and Ryan Longwell kicked a 31-yard field goal with 2:43 left to lift Minnesota over Carolina in Charlotte, N.C. Both teams are now 2-6.
In a matchup of rookie starting quarterbacks, the Vikings’ Christian Ponder completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown. Cam Newton of the Panthers threw for 290 yards and three scores and led Carolina into field goal range in the final two minutes, completing a 44-yard pass to Brandon LaFell on fourth and 15. But Olindo Mare missed a tying 31-yard kick wide left with 26 seconds left.
The Vikings tied the game at 21 on a 9-yard touchdown run by Peterson, his ninth of the season. Longwell’s go-ahead field goal ended a 13-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter that lasted 7:10.
Titans 27, Colts 10
Host Tennessee ended a two-game losing streak by beating winless Indianapolis, the Titans’ first win in the AFC South rivalry since Oct. 27, 2008. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 224 yards and a touchdown, Nate Washington scored twice, and Tennessee (4-3) turned two Curtis Painter interceptions into 14 points.
The Colts (0-8) pulled within 20-10 on Donald Brown’s 4-yard TD run with 13:29 left. Indianapolis then forced Tennessee to punt, but Titans defensive end Jason Jones tipped Painter’s pass and linebacker Barrett Ruud hauled in the interception with 8:18 remaining. Hasselbeck found Washington alone in the end zone for a 14-yard pass to seal the victory with 5:20 left.
The Titans came in with the NFL’s worst running game and Chris Johnson struggled again, rushing 14 times for 34 yards. Backup Javon Ringer ran 14 times for 60 yards and also caught a team-high five passes for 42 yards.