Deion Sanders conjured memories of his high-stepping past Sunday, returning an interception 48 yards for a touchdown and also picking off a pass in the end zone to lead the Ravens past the Buffalo Bills 20-6.
“Neon Deion” even got into the act on offense, although his 10-yard loss on an end around was perhaps the only flaw of an otherwise spectacular afternoon.
“I was smiling so much I almost forgot the play when I came out of the huddle,” Sanders said. “I was just so happy to be out there.”
Sanders ended a three-year retirement to join the Ravens as a fifth defensive back. He missed two games due to a hamstring injury and had only one interception before Sunday, but made a big difference against the Bills.
“They talked about me before I came. He’s too old. He shouldn’t be doing this,” Sanders said. “I’m a 37-year-old kid out there.”
Baltimore (4-2) played without Lewis, serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. The standout running back pleaded guilty on Oct. 7 in Atlanta to using a phone to set up a drug buy, and will miss the Ravens’ game next week in Philadelphia.
Chester Taylor filled in for Lewis and ran for 89 yards on 21 carries, but the victory was primarily the result of a punishing Baltimore defense.
“All the guys stepped up,” said Sanders, who appeared at his postgame interview in a dark suit, tailored shirt and fashionable hat.
With the score 3-3 in the first quarter, Bledsoe flipped a swing pass to running back Willis McGahee that was deflected by Williams. Sanders plucked the ball out of the air and went the distance, covering the last 30 yards in high-stepping fashion before breaking into a dance in the end zone.
“It felt good. It really did,” he said. “At breakfast this morning I told the guys, ‘When I get into the end zone stand back and let me dance first. Then you can congratulate me.”’
Sanders not only gave the Ravens the lead, but helped preserve it. With Baltimore up 17-6, he intercepted a pass in the end zone with 12:26 remaining, further justifying the Ravens’ decision to take a chance on the aging defensive back.
“For those that didn’t think it was a good move,” coach Brian Billick said, “then maybe they can rethink that.”
Bledsoe went 20-for-36 for 203 yards and lost a fumble. His four interceptions were one more than he threw in his first five games this season.
“We’ve got to play better,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve got to run the ball better (and) our offense isn’t good enough in the passing game. I don’t know what the answer is.”
The Bills have scored only six offensive touchdowns this season—none on the ground. Travis Henry, who started despite a sprained left foot, gained 27 yards on seven carries and McGahee had 58 yards on 16 attempts.
Buffalo finished with a 270-160 advantage in yardage, but never reached the end zone.
“It was like something I’ve never been a part of. It was terrible,” receiver Eric Moulds said.
Williams sealed the victory by taking Bledsoe’s pass from his goal line to the Buffalo 6, setting up a field goal by Matt Stover for a 20-6 lead with 4:42 left.
Boller then moved the Ravens 54 yards, aided by a roughing-the-passer call against London Fletcher, before Stover kicked a field goal.
Sanders then scored his 23rd career touchdown, the ninth on an interception return.
“The guy can still play. I don’t know why they don’t think so,” Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said. “Like always, Prime Time was prime time for us today.”
Baltimore went up 17-3 on its next possession on a 5-yard touchdown run by rookie B.J. Sams.
Sams’ TD was only the second allowed by the Bills on the ground. … The Ravens’ four interceptions tied a club record.