ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Wil Lutz got a do-over and kicked a 36-yard field goal as time expired, and the Denver Broncos won their third straight by rallying for a 24-22 victory over the sloppy, turnover-prone Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
Lutz got a second chance after he missed wide right with four seconds remaining from 41 yards, but the play was negated when Buffalo was flagged for having 12 players on the field. Lutz also overcame his own struggles in a game he missed an extra point by hitting the left upright, and was unable to get another extra-point attempt off when holder Riley Dixon bobbled the snap.
The Bills (5-5) continue their midseason fade out of the playoff picture, having lost four of six. Their offense continues to sputter in turning the ball over four times, with Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
“The clock is ticking,” Allen said, referring to the three-time defending AFC East champion team that’s in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season in 2018.
After Allen scampered in from 6 yards to give the Bills their first and only lead, Russell Wilson oversaw a 10-play, 57-yard drive to set up Lutz’s field goal. The key play of the drive came on third down and 10 from Buffalo’s 45 when Wilson — facing an all-out blitz — lobbed a pass deep over the middle intended for Jerry Jeudy, who was clearly interfered with by defensive back Taron Johnson.
Johnson was flagged for pass interference, giving Denver the ball at Buffalo’s 17.
The Broncos (4-5) have won three straight and four of six since a 70-20 loss at Miami.
Wilson finished 24 of 29 for 193 yards, including a perfectly placed 7-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton. What initially appeared as if Wilson was simply throwing the ball out of bounds instead landed in Sutton’s hands, with the receiver able to get both feet in bounds. The play was initially ruled an incompletion before being overturned upon a replay review.
The Bills, meantime, were busy coughing up the ball for most of the outing against a Broncos defense that forced four turnovers two weeks after forcing five against the Chiefs.
“We’ve got to play better and move the football and score points on a more consistent basis,” coach Sean McDermott said.
The Broncos were coming off their bye week, and carried over the momentum of a 24-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, which ended a 16-game skid against their AFC West rivals.
“We’ve got a long ways to go but we know who we can be,” Wilson said.
After allowing 181 points in going 1-4 in their five outings, the Broncos have clamped down to allow 67 points in their past four.
Another key is winning the turnover battle. The Broncos have forced 16 takeaways over their past five outings.
“Coach (Sean) Payton has done a great job of changing this culture and really impacting us as players,” Wilson added. “We believe in us and I know Broncos Country believes in us, too.”
Denver’s three-game winning streak is its longest since opening the 2021 season with three wins. And the Broncos have four wins through their first nine games for only the second time since 2017.
The Bills are heading the opposite direction.
The Bills have gone six straight games without scoring 26 or more points. It’s the team’s longest stretch since a six-game span during Allen’s rookie season in 2018.
Allen has turned the ball over in all but two games and thrown an interception in six straight — the longest run of his career.
He finished 15 of 26 for 177 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown to rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid.
The turnover-fest began on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage when Denver’s Ja’Quan McMillan pried the ball out of the hands of running back James Cook to force a fumble.
Allen followed up by ending Buffalo’s second drive by having his hard pass over the middle glance off the hands of receiver Gabe Davis, with the ball bouncing directly to Justin Simmons for his 30th career interception.
Allen’s second interception came in the final minute of the first half, and on the first play from scrimmage after Lutz hit a 49-yard field goal to put Denver up 12-8.
Allen fluttered a pass up the left sideline that was easily intercepted by Fabian Moreau, which led to Lutz making a 40-yard field goal to close the half.
The only other game in NFL history that featured a 15-8 score at halftime just happened to involve the Bills and Broncos in their third meeting as American Football League rivals. Denver went on to beat Buffalo 22-10 on Sept. 19, 1961.
Broncos: Host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
Bills: Host the New York Jets on Sunday.