ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills’ defense has a dynamic duo: “Super Mario” and a newcomer named Rambo.
Credit them for helping rattle Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Bacarri Rambo came off the bench to replace injured backup safety Duke Williams to intercept Rodgers on consecutive drives in the second half. And veteran end Mario Williams put the finishing touches on a 21-13 victory Sunday by forcing Rodgers to fumble into the end zone for a safety with 1:51 left.
“It’s a testament to what we do,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said, assessing how a dominating defensive effort contributed to keeping the Bills (8-6) in a jumbled playoff picture. “We’ve played against great quarterbacks, so the only expectation that we had was to play well and win a football game.”
Marcus Thigpen scored on a 75-yard punt return, while Dan Carpenter hit all four field-goal attempts, including three in the second half.
The Bills are assured their first eight-win season since going 9-7 in 2004.
A week after ending Peyton Manning’s consecutive game touchdown streak at 51 in a 24-17 loss at Denver, the Bills came away with a victory by putting the clamps on one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses.
“I wouldn’t say statement win,” safety Aaron Williams said. “We went up against a Hall of Famer last week, why couldn’t we do it again this week?”
The defense made up for a sputtering Kyle Orton-led offense, which was limited to 253 yards and 13 first downs. Orton finished 14 of 27 for 158 yards and an interception.
In the process, Buffalo put a halt to the Packers’ five-game winning streak, and prevented Green Bay (10-4) from inching closer to securing a sixth consecutive playoff berth.
“It was frustrating,” said Rodgers. “Some days are going to be like this. We set the standard pretty high, and we like to live up to it every week.”
Rodgers went 17 of 42 for 185 yards, with two interceptions. He had been picked off just three times this season, and none since throwing two in Green Bay’s last loss, 44-23 at New Orleans on Oct. 26.
It wasn’t all on Rodgers, either, as he had little support from his receivers. That includes the usually reliable Jordy Nelson, who had a key drop late in the third quarter.
From his 6, Rodgers found Nelson wide open running up the right side. The pass hit Nelson in stride, but the ball glanced off the receiver’s fingers.
“We had exactly what we wanted. We just didn’t make the play,” Nelson said. “I short-armed it and dropped it.”
The Packers were limited to Eddie Lacy’s 1-yard touchdown run and two field goals by Mason Crosby.
This from a team coming off a 43-37 win over Atlanta and that had outscored its past five opponents by 201-113. Rodgers combined for 1,580 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and no turnovers in his previous five games.
It all came to a halt against a defense ranked among the NFL’s top 10 in nearly every measurable category.
Rambo set the tone upon taking over after backup Duke Williams was escorted off the field experiencing concussion-like symptoms early in the third quarter. The Bills were already down starting safety Da’Norris Searcy (hamstring).
Rambo’s first interception came on the Packers’ second play from scrimmage after Dan Carpenter hit a 35-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead 16-10.
Rambo sprinted 10 yards from midfield to make a sliding interception of Rodgers’ pass intended for Randall Cobb at the Green Bay 45. His second came on the Packers’ next drive when Rodgers’ passed for Jarrett Boykin over the middle. It tipped off the receiver’s hands and to Rambo. That set up Carpenter hitting a 48-yard field goal.
“It’s a huge, huge confidence boost,” said Rambo, released in September after playing 13 games for Washington over the past two seasons. “It’s going to allow me to play even faster and build confidence in myself that, hey, I can do this. I belong in this league.”
The Packers weren’t done until their first play on their final possession.
From his 10, Rodgers dropped back and had the ball knocked out of his hand by Mario Williams, who burst in from the left side and outmuscled backup lineman JC Tretter.
The play was whistled dead once Lacy recovered the fumble, because only Rodgers was allowed to advance the ball with under 2:00 remaining.
NOTES: The Packers fell to 0-6 at Orchard Park. … The Bills went 4-0 against the AFC North. … Mario Williams also contributed a special teams play, by blocking Crosby’s 53-yard field-goal attempt with 6:01 left in the second quarter.
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