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NFL (National Football League)

Jimmy Graham on form as Seattle Seahawks hold off spirited Buffalo Bills to go clear in West

Graham completes two touchdowns from Russell Wilson as the Seahawks held off a late rally for a 31-25 win over the Bills

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2016, 11:13pm

Jimmy Graham needed only one hand to catch two first-half touchdown passes from Russell Wilson, and the Seattle Seahawks held off a late rally for a 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.

Seattle won its 11th straight Monday night game behind a huge game from its tight end. Still less than a year removed from a major knee injury, Graham used his right arm to catch a 17-yard touchdown from Wilson on the first play of the second quarter and later used the same arm to cradle an 18-yard TD pass in the final moments of the first half.

But the Seahawks had to hold on in the final seconds as Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the Bills inside the Seattle 10 in the final seconds. Taylor was sacked by Cliff Avril on third-and-goal from the 8 and on fourth-and-goal Taylor’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

Buffalo would not have needed a touchdown if not for mistakes by the officiating crew at the end of the first half that cost the Bills a chance at a shorter field goal. Dan Carpenter eventually missed a 54-yard attempt on the final play of the half, only after Seattle’s Richard Sherman got away with an unnecessary roughness penalty that wasn’t called and a delay of game caused in part by the officiating crew standing over the ball.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino tweeted during the game that Walt Coleman’s crew did not make the correct call.

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Graham caught all eight of his targets for 103 yards. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season. Wilson was 20 of 26 passing for 282 yards.

Wilson and Christine Michael both added 3-yard touchdowns runs, but Seattle’s run game was again absent. The Seahawks attempted just 12 running plays and wide receiver Tyler Lockett was Seattle’s leading rusher taking a fly sweep 13 yards.

Buffalo lost their third straight to drop below .500, but it wasn’t due to their quarterback.

Taylor was outstanding, nearly matching Wilson’s performance, except for one miscommunication with a wide receiver that led to Sherman’s end zone interception in the third quarter. Taylor threw for 289 yards. He kept plays alive with his legs and made smart reads and smart throws.

Robert Woods was his favourite target with 10 catches for a career-high 162 yards.

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Taylor was 6 of 7 for 73 yards on a drive that carried into the early stages of the fourth quarter and was capped by Mike Gillislee’s 1-yard TD run. Taylor then sneaked in on the 2-point conversion to pull Buffalo within 28-25.

Thanks to a key penalty keeping the drive alive, Seattle got a 49-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to extend the lead to 31-25 with just under 10 minutes remaining.

Taylor drove the Bills inside the Seattle 35 but a tripping call on Cordy Glenn on third-and-10 pushed Buffalo back and McCoy was stopped for a loss of 2 yards on the next play. Buffalo punted with 3:14 left and got a final chance driving inside the 10 before the Seahawks made a stand.

The final seconds of the first half were a mess.

Carpenter lined up for a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left. Sherman jumped offside and crashed hard into Carpenter, blocking the kick. Sherman was flagged for offside and Carpenter appeared to be hurt bringing trainers on the field.

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Because the trainers took the field, Carpenter had to leave for one play. Buffalo spiked the ball with one second left to set up a 48-yard attempt, but the Bills were penalised for delay of game even with the umpire standing over the ball. Carpenter’s 54-yard attempt on the final play was wide right.

Buffalo got a dream start, with Jerry Hughes blocking a punt after Seattle went three-and-out to open the game and Taylor running untouched for a 3-yard TD on the next play for a quick 7-0 lead. It was Buffalo’s first blocked punt since 2014.

Buffalo scored on their first three possessions before Seattle finally forced a punt midway through the second quarter. That snapped a string of nine straight possessions with opponents scoring on Seattle’s defence.

Buffalo centre Eric Wood was carted off the field after Gillislee’s TD run with a right ankle injury. Wood was rolled up blocking on the play. Ryan Groy took over at centre.

Seattle won their 11th straight Monday night game behind a huge game from its tight end. Still less than a year removed from a major knee injury, Graham used his right arm to catch a 17-yard touchdown from Wilson on the first play of the second quarter and later used the same arm to cradle an 18-yard TD pass in the final moments of the first half.

But the Seahawks had to hold on in the final seconds as Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the Bills inside the Seattle 10 in the final seconds. Taylor was sacked by Cliff Avril on third-and-goal from the 8 and on fourth-and-goal Taylor’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete.