ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Troy Vincent went from sideline
cheerleader to on-field contributor, playing a significant role in
one of the stingiest performances in NFL history.
Calling it his first career hat-trick, Vincent had an
interception, fumble recovery and a sack in sparking the Buffalo
Bills 37-7 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Not bad for a player that missed nine games with a right knee
injury and is suddenly playing a new position, switching from
cornerback to free safety.
Vincent would've taken over as punter if it meant getting back
on the field.
"It's been a long nine weeks," Vincent said. "I was the best
cheerleader. And I'm not a real vocal guy. But I found myself to be
in that position. ... Whatever it took."
Vincent set the tone from the Browns' first play from scrimmage,
sacking rookie Luke McCown for an 11-yard loss.
By the time it was over, the Bills had generated five turnovers,
added eight sacks and limited the blundering Browns to 17 yards of
offense on 46 plays.
It was the fifth-fewest yards allowed in league history. And
Cleveland flirted with the NFL record of minus-7 yards set by
Seattle in 1979 before adding 15 yards on their last series in the
final two minutes.
Buffalo (7-6) won its fourth straight and seventh in nine games
to remain in playoff contention.
The Browns (3-10) resembled a team in disarray, having now lost
seven straight, missing eight regulars to injury and headed by
interim coach Terry Robiskie, who took over two weeks ago following
Butch Davis' resignation.
"I know it's tough on every player. It's demoralizing,"
Robiskie said. "I got a sense standing on the sideline that it was
too big a game for us."
The Browns were so bad that their only points -- Dennis
Northcutt's 3-yard TD reception that briefly gave them a 7-3 lead --
came after Nate Clements fumbled a punt at his 18.
"There was a point in time where it was men against boys,"
Robiskie said. "A lot of it was too big for a couple of kids we
had playing, and one of them was Luke."
McCown, making his second career start, went 8-of-20 for 62
yards, was intercepted twice and sacked seven times for 74 yards
Jeff Garcia took over with a minute left in the third quarter,
his first appearance after missing two games with a sprained right
He didn't do much better, fumbling on his first and only series
when Aaron Schobel sacked him. Garcia was carted off with a
sprained left knee and did not return.
Robiskie said Garcia will have further tests on Monday.
The Bills' offense had an easy time overcoming three turnovers
and a botched field-goal attempt in the first half.
Willis McGahee had 105 yards rushing and scored on 6- and
13-yard runs. It was McGahee's sixth 100-yard game in eight starts,
and the Bills have won all six times.
"The defense stepped up and played a game like I've never seen
in my NFL career," Bledsoe said. "The only time you see a game
like that is in college."
The Bills eclipsed their previous record of 88 yards allowed
against Baltimore in 1982. The Browns broke their futility mark of
40 yards, set against Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, 1999, the team's
first game back in Cleveland.
Switching Vincent to free safety after he earned five Pro Bowl
selections at cornerback was a move coach Mike Mularkey wanted to
make because of the emergence of second-year cornerback Terrence
McGee, who had three interceptions filling in for Vincent.
How easy Vincent made the transition was impressive.
"For as long as he's been out and to play free safety out of
the blue, to make the plays that he did was outstanding on his
part," Mularkey said. "It's not just his play, just him being on
the field is a big factor for our defense."
Vincent's return was not lost on his teammates.
"He's veteran smart. He kept everybody poised back there,"
said defensive tackle Pat Williams.<
^Notes: Backup running back Shaud Williams scored on a 4-yard run in
the late going, and Rian Lindell rounded out Buffalo's scoring with
three field goals. ... The Browns also lost C Jeff Faine (sprained
left ankle) and DL Orpheus Roye (ankle). ... The Bills have won
four straight for the first time since 2000, and five straight at
home for the first since winning six in a row in 1998.