BALTIMORE - Ray Lewis walked out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist and a broad smile planted on his face.
He spotted Ed Reed across the Baltimore Ravens locker room, gave his longtime teammate a thumbs up and shouted, "Hey boy, welcome back!"
Reed forced three turnovers in his injury-delayed season debut, Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal in overtime after Lewis stripped the ball from tight end Shawn Nelson, and the Ravens squeezed past the winless Buffalo Bills 37-34 Sunday.
Baltimore yielded 505 yards and four touchdowns to the 30th-ranked offense in the NFL. But the Ravens (5-2) escaped with a victory before their bye week because Lewis yanked the ball from Nelson's hands at the Buffalo 29 in overtime.
Four plays later, Cundiff connected on the game-winner with 10:54 left.
"There's an old saying: Keep playing until you hear the whistle," Lewis said. "wWhen we hit him, everybody just rallied to the ball. I was up under him and just saw the ball there and sort of reached up and just snatched it out of his hand, knowing that he was just trying to go forward."
The Ravens (5-2) trailed 24-10 late in the first half before scoring 24 straight points to take a 34-24 lead into the fourth quarter.
Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick then threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans with 5:46 left, and the Bills (0-6) forced overtime on a 50-yard field goal by Rian Lindell with four seconds to go in regulation.
Fitzpatrick went 29 for 43 for 373 yards and four touchdowns - three to Evans and another to Steve Johnson. The four TD passes were the most against the Ravens since Peyton Manning did it for Indianapolis in December, 2007.
But it all went for naught.
"It's hard to win when you turn it over four times," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "I think we took a step forward in some respects. But we didn't play smart in some areas."
Reed, who spent the previous six weeks recovering from offseason hip surgery, immediately made his presence felt. He forced a fumble on Buffalo's first possession, then made two interceptions in the second half - including one that was deflected by Lewis.
"Oh man, it was beautiful, just getting back out there with the guys," Reed said. "Coming out here and knowing the fans were going to be how they were, that was just a dream come true. It was like being a rookie all over again my first year here."
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, and Baltimore improved to 14-1 under coach John Harbaugh against teams with sub-.500 records.
But this one was anything but easy.
"It was a game of momentum," said Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who scored two touchdowns. "At times they had it, at times we got it back. We were just happy to get it at the end."
The Bills took no consolation in making it close.
"It's frustrating, especially to lose that way. We're still searching for that first win," Fitzpatrick said. "I can tell you that ... we're going to get over the hump."
Fitzpatrick threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and Buffalo amassed 262 yards before halftime against the NFL's third-ranked defense in taking a 24-20 lead.39.29055 -76.6096 ERROR: Template storyimage.ldo not found in theme default for section frontpage!
Ray Lewis walked out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist and a broad smile planted on his face. He spotted Ed Reed across the Baltimore Ravens locker room, gave his longtime teammate a thumbs up and shouted, "Hey boy, welcome back!"