ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Nov. 5, 2006) -- When Willis McGahee went down, London Fletcher and the Buffalo Bills defense stepped up.
The linebacker scored on a 17-yard interception return and keyed a four-takeaway outing in Buffalo's 24-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.
It didn't matter to Fletcher that the Bills offense generated just 90 yards and four first downs through three quarters, or that Buffalo was minus its most potent threat, McGahee. The running back hurt his ribs 4 minutes in and didn't return.
"We put an emphasis on not worrying about what happens on the other side of the ball," said Fletcher, who finished with a team-high 14 tackles and broke up five pass attempts. "We knew if we didn't allow them to score, our offense would be able to do something."
The offense did just enough in ending a three-game losing streak and helping the Bills improve to 3-5. Not that the final outcome was reflected on the stat sheet, which weighed heavily in Green Bay's favor.
The Packers out-gained the Bills 427 yards offense to 184. Green Bay had 26 first downs to Buffalo's 11, and controlled the ball for nearly 9 more minutes.
Brett Favre finished 28-of-47 for 287 yards passing, while Buffalo's J.P. Losman was a modest 8-of-15 for 102 yards.
The difference? Turnovers.
Buffalo didn't commit one, a switch after Losman had committed eight, including five interceptions, in his previous three starts. Green Bay's four turnovers were one more than it had committed in its previous three games.
Green Bay (3-5) lost in its attempt to win three straight for the first time in two years and dropped to 0-5 all-time at Buffalo.
"This is a hard one because this was a football game we had the opportunity to win," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's getting too late in the year to let those type of opportunities slip away. ... It stings, yes."
The game was decided after Losman put the Bills ahead 17-10, hitting Lee Evans for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 8 minutes left.
Favre marched the Packers 60 yards to the Bills 1, only to have the drive end when rookie safety Ko Simpson intercepted his pass 3 yards deep in the end zone.
Favre attempted to catch the Bills off guard with a quick snap, but cornerback Nate Clements was ready, getting his hand in to tip the pass intended for Donald Driver. The ball deflected to Simpson, who ran it back 76 yards to set up Anthony Thomas' 14-yard touchdown run.
"We were going to try to put it on our backs," Simpson said. "With our offense not moving the ball, we just said, `We got to make a play."'
That doesn't explain why the Packers, led by Ahman Green 's 122 yards rushing, were thinking pass with the game-tying score on the line. It was Green, after all, who got the Packers to the 1 with a strong 10-yard run.
"We had the look we wanted," Favre said. "When Mike called the play, at worst, it falls incomplete. Had it worked, it's a great call."
The Packers did score their lone touchdown on a similar play, when Favre hit Driver on a 1-yard slant.
Green Bay squandered another scoring chance in the final seconds of the first half when, facing first-and-goal from the 5, center Scott Wells' hard snap hit Favre in the face mask and Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel recovered.
For Losman, it was the first time in 16 career starts that he's won a game when tied or trailing in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo's win came at a price. McGahee did not return, hurt when defensive tackle Colin Cole stuffed him for a 3-yard loss. Cole and fellow lineman Ryan Pickett then landed on McGahee while he was down.
Bills reserve receiver Josh Reed also did not return after sustaining a bruised kidney early in the second half. Coach Dick Jauron wouldn't detail the extent of the two players' injuries or how much time they might miss.
Thomas filled in for McGahee and finished with 95 yards rushing, including 56 in the fourth quarter.
Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams had a career-high three sacks, while Aaron Kampman had one, to give him 9 1/2 for the season.
"We shot ourselves in the foot all game," said Packers cornerback Al Harris, who was burned on Evans' score. "It hurts when you go out there and it was a game we should have won."
Notes: Buffalo's 184 yards offense were the fewest allowed by the Packers since a 10-0 win over the Bills at Green Bay on Dec. 22, 2002. ... Wells botched two snaps, both leading to fumbles. ... Favre had not thrown an interception in 111 attempts before being picked off by Fletcher. ... Bills PK Rian Lindell hit a 28-yard field goal while Packers PK Dave Rayner hit a 49-yarder.