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Bills survive another slow start, scare from Giants on last-second pass breakup in end zone

The Buffalo Bills played without a lead for the first 56 minutes of Sunday Night Football. They almost lost it on the final play of the game.

After going up by five on a Josh Allen touchdown pass to Quintin Morris with 3:48 to go, Buffalo withstood two possessions by the New York Giants, the latter reaching the 1-yard line with no time left on the clock thanks to a defensive pass interference penalty by Terrel Bernard.

On the night's final play, Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor took the snap from under center, dropped back to feign a handoff and tossed a pass high to Darren Waller in the middle of the end zone. As the tight end reached for the ball, Bills defensive back Taron Johnson was in tight coverage, appearing to hang onto Waller's jersey. Taylor's pass was too high and Johnson's defense too solid, and the last-gasp attempt fell incomplete, sealing Buffalo's 14-9 win over New York.

The pass breakup was put under the microscope on the NBC broadcast and scrutinized from all angles, but the close-call no-call was final. Buffalo had escaped a scare at home.

"It's an ugly win, but it counts the same as a pretty win," Allen told NBC's Melissa Stark after the game. "Our defense, man, they bailed us out.

"Offensively, we've got to be better. So we'll take the win. We hate that it came down to that last play, but we'll take the win."

It wasn't the first time Buffalo held off New York at its doorstep on Sunday night. The Giants were on the Bills' 1-yard line at the end of the first half, as well, with the opportunity to extend their six-point lead. But with no timeouts and 14 seconds left, Taylor checked to a run play, and Saquon Barkley got stuffed. New York couldn't get another play off and went into the half without a score and with Buffalo breathing a huge sigh of relief, a far too familiar occurrence as of late.

Favorites in prime time to handle a Giants team without its starting quarterback, the Bills struggled offensively Sunday for the second straight week, failing to score a single point in the first three quarters for the first time in five seasons. Buffalo mustered just two late touchdowns (after 12-plus-play drives) despite working in New York territory on six marches and not punting on any of their final five drives.

The Bills have started slow two games in a row after putting up 31 first-half points against Miami in a Week 4 win. Last week, though, Buffalo was in unfamiliar surroundings, playing in London at 9:30 a.m. ET against a Jaguars team that had already been overseas for a week; a sloppy first half could be understood. On Sunday, the Bills were at home and in prime time and still started sluggish.

"At the end of the day, you've got to find a rhythm. You've got to establish the line of scrimmage and get our quarterback in a good rhythm," Bills coach Sean McDermott told reporters. "It's probably a little bit of everything. It's never usually one thing. We've got to look hard at it because it's been a couple weeks now here that we've gotten off to a slow start. We're better than that, and we've got to work on that."

A win is a win, however, and the Bills are now 4-2, one game behind the division-leading Miami Dolphins in the AFC East, with the lowly New England Patriots (1-5) on tap in Week 7. For Allen, McDermott and Co., it's a prime opportunity to put together a complete performance after half-measures in back-to-back weeks.

"Sometimes you've got to find a way. You don't have your 'A' game, and you gotta figure it out," McDermott said. "I thought our offense did a little bit of that in the second half, and it was good to see."

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