TORONTO – Tony Gonzalez was apprehensive about the reception the Falcons would receive facing the Bills in Buffalo's annual "home" game in Toronto.
He needn't have been. The tight end felt very much at home in the climate-controlled confines of the Rogers Centre — and avoiding the blustery elements in Buffalo.
"You know, I'm not going to hide the fact that we're a dome team and it feels a little bit better when you're inside," Gonzalez said. "I didn't know how many fans we'd have coming into Toronto, but I tell you what, it was great."
It took a trip north of the border for the Falcons (3-9) to snap a five-game skid and earn their first road win of the season Sunday, when they rallied to pull out a 34-31 victory on Matt Bryant's 36-yard field goal 3 minutes into overtime.
The Bills were gracious hosts. First, they gave away their wintry home-field edge. Then, they gave the ball away on each of their final two possessions.
Falcons safety William Moore set up the decisive score by forcing a fumble on Buffalo's second play in the extra period. He punched the ball out of the arms of Bills tight end Scott Chandler.
It was a near exact duplicate of how the Bills' final drive of regulation ended.
Cornerback Robert McClain chased down receiver Stevie Johnson from behind and knocked the ball loose at the Falcons 30 with 20 seconds remaining.
"I'm hurting. I mean, I am. I'm mad," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "I'm upset."
By squandering a 14-0 lead, the Bills (4-8) are pretty much out of playoff contention for a 14th straight season, extending the NFL's longest active streak. They also will finish their ninth straight season without a winning record.
Here's five things that stood out as Buffalo dropped to 1-5 since the "Bills in Toronto" series was first established in 2008:
FLYING FALCONS: Atlanta's offense finally got on track.
Running back Steven Jackson scored twice to triple his season touchdown total, while receiver Roddy White nearly doubled his season total with 143 yards. Both players had missed significant stretches with injuries.
Jackson's second touchdown came on a 1-yard run with 1:28 left to tie the game.
Gonzalez also scored on an 11-yard catch, upping his career total to 108 — sixth on the NFL list — and first outside the United States. Gonzalez had 42 yards receiving, moving him to within 14 of passing Tim Brown (14,934 yards) for fifth on the career list.
NO-HOME ADVANTAGE: The Bills still aren't getting as much support in their adopted home as they are back in Buffalo in dropping to 1-5 in games played at Toronto.
The announced crowd of 38,969 was short of the stadium's 46,470 capacity, not including suites. And the fans that did show up weren't all supporting the "home" team.
Aside from a large contingent of Falcons supporters, fans were spotted wearing a wide array of jerseys, including the Cowboys, Steelers, Patriots and even one Jaguars' supporter.
"I loved seeing as many Falcons fans as we had up here today," Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said. "It was a unique experience. I obviously had a lot of fun."
SPILLER TAKES OFF: Bills running back C.J. Spiller had a season-best 149 yards rushing, including a 77-yarder to set up Buffalo's first score. It was the longest non-scoring run in team history. Spiller, who had been bothered by a sprained left ankle, had combined for 145 yards in his previous three games.
SACK ATTACK: Bills linebacker Jerry Hughes had two of Buffalo's six sacks, upping the team's total to 43. That's the most by the Bills since finishing with 47 in 2006.
Trouble was, the Bills defense sagged allowing the Falcons 151 yards rushing.
FORD FACTOR: Troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor," created a stir by drawing a large crowd when he arrived with about 5 minutes left in the first quarter. Wearing a Bills No. 22 Fred Jackson jersey, he was flanked by his two personal security guards and with police officers and stadium security nearby. As he settled into his VIP-section seat, Ford was spotted munching on — what else? — a Buffalo chicken wing.
"I appreciate him showing his support for me, you know, wearing my jersey," Jackson said. "With all the things going on, that still means a lot."
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