ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Rather than focus on his critics, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor said he was going to spend the week concentrating on beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was time well spent.
With help from a defense that forced three turnovers, including rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White forcing a fumble to set up Stephen Hauschka’s 30-yard field goal with 14 seconds left, Taylor played a key role in a 30-27 win Sunday.
The third-year starter’s 268 yards passing were his second-most in a victory. Taylor won when trailing in the fourth quarter for just the third time. And Taylor did all that with an injury-depleted group of receivers that included Deonte Thompson, who finished with a team-best 109 yards despite being signed on Tuesday.
”I’m proud of the way everyone played,” Taylor said. ”It wasn’t a picture-perfect game by any means. But we stayed together through it all.”
After squandering a 17-6 lead, Buffalo overcame a 27-20 point deficit by scoring 10 points in the final 2:28.
Taylor’s 44-yard pass to Thompson set up LeSean McCoy’s 7-yard run to cap a three-play, 75-yard drive. Then on Tampa Bay’s next play from scrimmage, White stripped receiver Adam Humphries of the ball and recovered it at the Bucs 33.
Taylor oversaw an offense that produced season-highs in points, yards (434), first downs (23) and third-down conversions (10 of 16).
The performance came after questions were raised over Taylor’s effectiveness in the clutch. At 4-2, Buffalo’s two losses were decided by a combined 10 points and after the offense failed to score on its final possession.
The Buccaneers (2-4) have lost three straight.
”We’re fighting, man, we’re fighting,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. ”We’ve got to find a way to do it for four quarters, not just two, not just three. Four.”
Buccaneers rookie tight end O.J. Howard nearly doubled his season totals with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. The first-round pick out of Alabama entered the game with five catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
”It’s always exciting when you get to score,” Howard said. ”It’s the greatest game in the world to be scoring and this league is awesome so I’m definitely excited about that, but the most important thing is to win and we came up short.”
Though White helped seal the win by forcing Humphries fumble, the rookie first-round pick was still stewing over allowing Mike Evans to put the Bucs up 27-20 on a 12-yard touchdown catch with 3:14 left.
”I was there, but he made the throw so it wasn’t good coverage and I almost cost the team,” White said of Evans’ right-toe-dragging catch just inside the right sideline. ”We’re not going to win many games if we continue to do that, starting with me, shoot, giving up a touchdown. That’s bad.”
Winston showed no after effects of a sprained throwing shoulder that sidelined him in a 38-33 loss against Arizona last week. He finished 32 of 44 for 384 yards and three touchdowns with an interception and lost fumble.
Taylor improved to 3-16 when Buffalo trails by 4 or more at any point of the game. In completing 20 of 33 passes, Taylor also improved to 2-11 when making 30 or more attempts in a game.
EVANS CATCHING UP
With seven catches for 88 yards, Evans upped his career total to 4,037 yards, in becoming the Bucs fifth receiver to pass the 4,000 plateau. He also caught his 31st career touchdown which tied him with Kevin House for second-most in franchise history behind Jimmie Giles’ 34.
Hauschka tied an NFL record by making 12 consecutive field goals from 50 yards or longer by hitting a 52-yarder put Buffalo up 20-13 with 13:31 left in the fourth quarter. The record is shared by Blair Walsh, Robbie Gould, Justin Tucker and Matt Prater. The Bills signed Hauschka in free agency this offseason after he spent the previous six years in Seattle. He’s not missed an attempt from beyond 50 yards since missing a 50- and 52-yarder in a 35-6 win over Arizona on Dec. 21, 2014.
More AP NFL: http://Hometeaminsider.com and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL