The Buffalo Bills' ball-hawking defense needed to make one final play to seal a win over the Super Bowl champions, and Kiko Alonso came through again
The Buffalo Bills' ball-hawking defense needed to make one final play to seal a win over the Super Bowl champions, and Kiko Alonso came through again. Alonso and Aaron Williams had two interceptions each as the Bills held on to beat the Ravens, 23-20, on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills defense, which has forced 11 turnovers through the first four games of the season, picked off Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco five times. Alonso's diving interception of a tipped pass intended for Dallas Clark with 57 seconds left preserved the win. "We knew it was in our hands," said Alonso, a 2013 second-round pick out of Oregon. "We were up two scores when the fourth quarter started, so we knew it was in our hands." The work by the defense helped Buffalo (2-2) overcome three turnovers and only 128 second-half yards. E.J. Manuel completed only 10 of his 22 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions. "There are always things you can do better, but nonetheless we won the game and that's the biggest thing," said Manuel, who also lost a fumble which led to the Ravens' first touchdown. "I'm learning something every snap and just trying to take advantage of that." Fred Jackson ran for 87 yards and a touchdown and C.J. Spiller added 77 yards for the Bills, who ran 55 times for 203 yards against a previously stout Ravens' defense. Baltimore (2-2) entered allowing an averaged of less than 75 rushing yards per game. "It was going to be tough sledding because that's a tremendous defense," said Jackson. "It was a challenge we all took to heart." Spiller (ankle) and Jackson (knee) left the game for a period in the third quarter, but both returned. After the game, Spiller described his injury as soreness, while Jackson has a sprained MCL but said he expects to play Thursday at Cleveland. "I'll see how I feel in the morning and do as much training as I can and get ready for Thursday, even though it's a short week," said Spiller. "It's going to be tough, but I'm going to do everything on my end to be in a position to be ready to play." The Ravens' own running game had even less success, managing a meager 24 yards on only nine attempts. In fact, Baltimore did not run a single rushing play in the second half until the final five minutes of the game. "When you get behind it's hard to pound the rock," said Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had only 17 yards on five carries. "We needed to try to find a way to score quickly." Flacco threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-50 passing, but could not overcome the career-worst five interceptions. "We've just got to be, maybe, a bit more physical, maybe mix it up a little bit more early on," said Flacco. "We are just not good enough right now, I guess, that is probably the simplest explanation" Flacco's 10-yard touchdown to Marlon Brown gave the Ravens a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter. However, the Bills took the lead for good five minutes later on Manuel's 42-yard connection with fellow rookie Robert Woods. "The whole running game opens up everything for us receivers, sets up the play-action and the deep passes," said Woods. "The running game went well drawing the safety down, left me one-on-one by the corner and a great ball by E.J." Jackson's 16-yard touchdown came less than two minutes later after another Flacco interception and gave the Bills a 20-7 halftime lead. "We've had a lot of adversity throughout every part of the program," said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. "Whether it be injuries, whether it be schematics, the coaching, trying to get people in the right spot. "To come through this first quarter (of the season) and be 2-2, that's who we are … I believe we'll start getting some of the players back and we're looking forward to that and we're excited about it." Torrey Smith's 26-yard touchdown catch in the middle of the third quarter cut the Bills' lead to 20-14. Smith finished with five catches for 166 yards. Dan Carpenter's third field goal of the game late in the third gave Buffalo a 23-14 lead. Following an interception of Manuel by Buffalo-born Corey Graham, Flacco hit Smith on the next play down the left side for 74 yards to the Bills' 9-yard line. The Ravens settled for a Justin Tucker field goal. Flacco's 33-yard pass to Deonte Thompson on the Ravens' next possession, which included a helmet-to-helmet penalty on Jim Leonhard, put the ball on the Buffalo 11 with under six minutes left. Again, the Ravens could not punch it in and Tucker's 24-yard field goal made it 23-20 with four minutes left. After Alonso's second interception, Manuel began kneeling with the ball as the Ravens used the rest of their timeouts. On third-and-16 with 51 seconds left, Manuel stepped back and hesitated before kneeling to take more time off and was hit by Terrell Suggs, who drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Bills got the automatic first down and the game ended with one more kneel down. "I think the quarterback is responsible for taking a knee there," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. "He has got to get the knee down and he should do it more quickly, not try to run more time off the clock. "That is something we hear from the league all the time and his knee was not on the ground. I'm just disappointed Terrell didn't cause a fumble there. He definitely did the right thing there." Notebook: A water main break at Ralph Wilson Stadium forced the temporary closure of concession stands and restrooms in sections 120 through 142 … Williams also left the game in the second half with a lower back contusion, but Marrone expected him to be fine … Alonso became the first Bills rookie linebacker to intercept a pass in three consecutive games … Jackson passed Joe Cribbs for third on the Bills' all-time rushing yards list … The Bills announced Sunday's attendance as 68,296 … Stevie Johnson had only one catch for -1 yard, but extended his streak to 52 games with at least one catch — the fourth-longest in team history … Manuel became the first rookie QB to start against and beat the Super Bowl champions in September … Leonhard had the other interception for Buffalo.