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2000 SEASON IN REVIEW

Bills Thunder

BILLS HAVE A MIRACLE
OF THEIR OWN

By Rick Anderson

The Bills got their payback for last year's Music City Miracle when they beat the Tennessee Titans 16-13 Sunday night in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Last year it was the "Home run Throwback" that killed the Bills in the wild card playoff game. This year is was Alex Van Pelt who performed a miraculous deed as he came off the bench to replace an injured Rob Johnson and led the Bills to their winning field goal with 35 seconds remaining in the game.

Antoine Winfield delivers a punishing hit on Titans tight end Michael Roan, flipping him upright and stopping him short of a first down.
[AP Photo/Harry Scull Jr. ]

This game had all the makings of the Music City Nightmare all over again. Like the wild card game, Sunday's game had ferocious hitting and stellar defensive efforts by both clubs. As in January's memorable match, the Bills drove down for what appeared to be the winning field goal by Steve Christie with only seconds remaining to put Buffalo ahead 16-13 (his kick in January put the Bills ahead 16-15). Everyone knows what happened in January. After the wild celebration the Bills staged after Christie kicked the "winning" field goal, Christie pooched the kickoff in the air down to the Titans 25. Lorenzo Neal caught it and handed off to Frank Wycheck who ran to his right six steps, stopped and threw it directly to the left sideline to Kevin Dyson. Dyson had clear sailing in front of him and three blockers who took out the only Bill (Christie) between him and the victory. Christie had no chance of even getting close to Dyson.

Sunday night, the thought of a long kickoff return was on everyone's mind, especially Christie. This time he kicked the ball two yard deeps into the endzone (the first time all night) and Derrick Mason took it out. Mason, who had already returned one 57 yards with Christie stopping him, ran the ball straight up the middle and then veered to his right. He found a big gap in the Bills' kickoff coverage and blazed through it with only Christie blocking a clear path to the endzone. Christie defended his ground like Dominik Hasek defending the goal on a breakaway. The Bills' kicker was able to get his right arm on Mason to slow him down just enough to allow two Bills defenders to catch up with him and bring him down at the Bills 49.

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Johnson toughs it out again as Bills sack Pack 27-18

By Rick Anderson

A bloodied and bruised Rob Johnson out-dueled Brett Favre Sunday as the Bills put some offense on the boards and beat the Green Bay Packers 27-18. Once again the Bills defense rose to the occasion and shut down Favre when they had to. But Johnson, defying the all-out Packer blitz, had a spectacular day, completing 18 out of 26 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Like the week before against the Titans, Johnson was besieged by Green and Yellow all day as the Packers threw everything the could at the Bills quarterback.

Jay Riemersma positions the ball over the pylon as he goes out of bounds. The refs ruled that the ball broke the plane of the goal line and gave Buffalo the touchdown.
[AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli]

The Bills are not the friendliest of hosts when the Packers come to town. In fact, they are downright nasty to the boys from Wisconsin. Four times the Pack have come away empty when visiting Buffalo and to make matters worse, Green Bay has been outscored 103-40 in those four contests.

The Bills defense was the welcoming committee for Favre and the boys from cheese country. Although Favre completed his first 14 passes and completed 25 out of 35 for 269 yards and two scores, the Bills defense was able to shut him down at the worst possible time, as far as Favre was concerned. The Bills D clamped down on the Packers on third down situations, limiting Favre to only a couple first downs.

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Bills shoot themselves down in debacle against Jets

By Rick Anderson

The sun was shining in the Meadowlands and on the Jets Sunday as they took two huge first half plays and 3 Bills turnovers in the second half to de-throttle the Buffalo Bills 27-14. A 97-yard touchdown return and a Hail Mary touchdown reception at the end of the first half took the momentum away from the Bills. Then in the second half, the three Buffalo fumbles prevented any possible comeback the Bills could have staged.

Marcus Coleman comes down with a circus catch of Vinny Testaverde's "Hail Mayy" pass at the end of the first half to put the Jets up 21-14. Bills defenders Keion Carpenter and Donovan Greer are victimized by Coleman's leaping heroics.
[AP Photo/Bill Kostroun]

The Jets were clearly the better coached team in Giant Stadium. Al Groh, who took over for the Big Tuna, Bill Parcells, did a creditable job in getting his troops prepared for the showdown between the two unbeaten teams in the AFC East. By the time the final gun sounded, the Jets were the only ones standing and going to 3-0, their best start since 1966.

Groh was extremely upset over the performance of his special teams the previous two games and made it known that he wanted that unit to step it up against the Bills. The Jets special teams responded to Groh's demands and even went beyond what the Jets head coach expected. They forced 2 fumbles on punts in the second half and helped pave the way to an exciting kickoff return.

Kevin Williams (not the same as the former Bills kickoff specialist) got behind a couple blocks and then broke into the clear down the left sideline with only kicker Steve Christie to beat. He gave Christie a stiff arm and galloped into the endzone for a 97-yard touchdown. Williams jaunt was the first Jet kickoff returned for a touchdown in three seasons.

Groh will most likely take his entire special team out for dinner tomorrow after a brilliant performance. On the other side of the ball, Bills coach Wade Phillips has to account for numerous mistakes made by his special teams and his offense. Phillips himself made two questionable challenges to official rulings that cost the Bills two timeouts in the second half.

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Manning directs Colts
to last-second victory

By Rick Anderson

All the defense had to do was to keep the Indianapolis Colts from getting into field goal range. The Bills defense had done that all day, stuffing the league's No. 1 defense, allowing only 15 points. Instead, Peyton Manning staged some late game heroics to get the Indianapolis Colts in position for the game winning field goal as the Colts beat the Bills 18-16.

Rob Johnson fumbles the ball after being sacked by Colts defensive end Chad Bratzke. John Fina picked up the loose ball and ran for good yardage, but the refs ruled Johnson down because the fumble took place with under two minutes remaining in the first half.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

It shouldn't have come down to this. The Bills had the ball in the red zone 3 times in the early going and had to settle for field goals on each occasion. Even if Rob Johnson had been able to get the Bills one touchdown out of the three deep drives, the Bills would have had a 13-0 lead and control of the game. As it was, the Colts were able to come back from a 9-0 deficit and make the game a nail-biter right until the end.

The Bills actually seemed to have the game won when Rob Johnson it Eric Moulds for 40-yards and a last minute touchdown. But like the Tennessee playoff game last year, the Bills should never count their opponent out until the final gun. Such was the case Sunday with Manning in control of the Colts' scoring machine.

"Its disheartening and it's a tough loss, its over with," Wade Phillips said in his post game conference. "Certainly I can't do anything about it now except I think we can learn from the ball game. We were able to move the football, we stopped them and we stopped their running game, those things were key for us, but they didn't turn out to be the difference in the ball game."

The Bills are now 2-2 after winning their first two games of the season. The road ahead is all uphill for the Bills as the Jets are 4-0, the Dolphins are 4-1 while the Colts are 3-1. This game was very winnable and to allow victory to slip away at home will cost the Bills dearly as the season wears on.

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Bills gift-wrap game
and give it to the Dolphins

By Rick Anderson

The Miami Dolphins received a huge present Sunday in the form of a victory from the Buffalo Bills in Miami's Pro Player Stadium. The Bills lost 22-13 in a one-sided mistake-filled contest and any hopes of making the playoffs are now in serious jeopardy as is Wade Phillips' job. For a lot of Bills fans, the season as good as over and they may start concentrating more on the undefeated Sabres.

Sammy Morris is about to have the ball stripped from him as he tries to make extra yardage. The ball pops out right to Sammy Madison who scores the finishing blow to the Bills hopes.
[Sun-Sentinel photo/ Robert Duyos ]

The most serious error the Bills made came late in the fourth quarter when the game was still on contest. With the score 15-13 Dolphins, Rob Johnson, who was under pressure as he was all day, rolled to his left and found running back Sammy Morris with a short screen. Morris, trying to make extra yardage, had the ball pop out from his grasp and right into the hands of Sam Madison, who went all the way for the clinching touchdown.

"We gave this game away," muttered Bills head coach Wade Phillips. "We were in a position to win against a team that hasn't given up many points."

The Bills, who opened the season with two straight wins against non-division opponents, have now lost three straight in their division and are sinking like the Titanic.

"They were three complete team losses," said Bills linebacker John Holecek. "No question, we're in a big hole."

Thurman Thomas, who had been trash talking the Bills all week, had the ultimate payback for being unmercifully released by the Bills after last season. Thomas had targeted Phil Hansen, John Holecek and Henry Jones as players on the Bills he a grudge against.

"Every time I get the ball, I'm going to try to stick it (to them) and let them know I didn't forget what happened in the offseason and the past couple of years," Thomas said earlier in the week.

During the game, the Bills' career rushing leader let his legs do the talking. The Thurmanator got to carry the ball 7 times against his former club, picking up 24 yards. He was even more productive as a receiver, gaining 26 yards on 3 catches. After a 15-yard pass reception, Thomas talked with gestures. He leaped in front of Holecek and signaled a first down, in an obvious taunting display.

"I guess all his talk worked for him," admitted Holecek. "I don't know why he felt like he had to create an enemy, but I guess I'm going to have to play the role."

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Christie kicks spark overtime win

By Rick Anderson

The Buffalo Bills escaped with their lives, but had to go to overtime to do it when they defeated the winless San Diego Chargers 27-24. Even though the Bills are taking the victory and running with it, there's a lot to criticize in the Bills effort against the now 0-7 Chargers. Being down by ten points, the Bills had to battle back to tie the game and a key interception by Henry Jones set up the winning 46-yard field goal by Steve Christie in the overtime.

Henry Jones breaks the Chargers' backs with this interception of a pass intended for Freddie Jones in overtime. Jones' pick help set up the Bills winning 46-yard field goal by Steve Christie.
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]

It was the first time the Bills defeated the Chargers in Buffalo since the 1964 AFL title game, when the Bills won their first American Football League championship with a 20-7 victory over the Chargers. That was way back when Mike Stratton knocked out Keith Lincoln with the "tackle heard round the world." Since that glorious day, the Chargers had returned to Buffalo only 6 times, but had left as the victor each time.

The game played Sunday should not have come down to a field goal in overtime. By all rights, the Bills should have had a much easier time in beating the winless Chargers. But the usual inability of the offense to get on track along with Jim Harbaugh throwing two long touchdown strikes, and the Bills had a much more difficult time against the Chargers than most predicted.

Rob Johnson had a frustrating game, and to cap that off, he received a separated shoulder when he was taken down in the overtime and had to leave the game. In came Doug Flutie and he generated some magic, getting the Bills downfield by completing two key passes - a 9 yard throw to Peerless Price and a 21-yarder to Eric Moulds down to the San Diego 25. The pass to Moulds was the real back breaker for the Chargers, who had the lead for most of the second half. It set the stage for Christie to kick a 41 yard field goal to win the game. However, a false start pushed Christie's attempt back to 46 yards away. His kick was perfect and the Bills had avoided a most embarrassing defeat.

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Vikings march back to remain unbeaten

By Rick Anderson

The Buffalo Bills came just a couple minutes from upsetting the undefeated Minnesota Vikings, but a couple of big plays helped the Vikings become the only perfect team in the NFL as they came from behind to beat the Bills 31-27.

Doug Flutie got the Bills offense clicking as he passed for almost 300 yards against the Vikings. Here he gets protection from Bills guard Ruben Brown as he sets up to pass.
[AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt]

Doug Flutie, starting in place of the injured Rob Johnson, played a commendable game, completing 28 of 43 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Flutie had the Bills offense moving like a well-oiled machine after his first few passes were off their mark. Flutie looked sharp, especially in his 25-yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds in the second quarter. He also hooked up with Sammy Morris on a 18-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The Bills offense looked fluid and even the running game jived as Shawn Bryson ran for 72 yards on 11 carries and Morris picked up 31 on 14 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown dive to go along with his touchdown reception.

"We moved the ball efficiently, up and down the field," said Flutie. "We made one mistake late and it wound up costing us. We possessed the ball, they didn't have a lot of opportunities to score points and they made the most of them."

This was Flutie's day to prove himself to the many critics he has back in Buffalo that he still has some magic in his arm and legs. Flutie, who was starting his first game of the season one day before his 38th birthday, had a rusty start. However, after warming up, his passes were tight spirals and he kept the Viking defense honest, setting up the running game with his short to medium passes.

"I felt great, it was like riding a bike," gleamed Flutie. "I love playing the game, I like competing. We should have won it and even when they took the lead, I thought we'd win it."

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Bills convert turnovers into tasty delights

By Rick Anderson

Huge turnovers were the order for the day and the Bills defense served them up hot and crispy. The Buffalo Bills gobbled up the turnovers like they were Big Apple pastries fresh out of the oven., and used them to devour the Jets 23-20 in a highly emotional game.

Eric Moulds latches onto a 52-yard bomb thrown by Doug Flutie as Marcus Coleman finally catches up to him at the Jets 1 yard line. The Bills were only able to get a field goal as Moulds was called on interference on a play shortly afterwards.
[AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli]

The defense had it's highs and lows, but the highs won out and the defense played a spectacular game in helping to produce a crucial win to keep the Bills' playoff hopes alive. With the victory, the Bills now stand at 4-4 at the midseason mark.

Steve Christie was called upon to kick a 34-yarder with three ticks left on the clock, the wind at his back and the game tied at 20.

The Jets had earlier blocked Christie's 44-yard field goal attempt, but the Bills veteran kicker was only concentrating on making good contact with the ball.

"There wasn't much to think about, just keeping it down the middle," Christie commented. "I have to hit them from wherever we end up."

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The Quarterback debate rages on

By Rick Anderson

Doug Flutie came in for the injured Rob Johnson and engineered the winning field goal drive to beat the Chargers in overtime. Now he has positioned himself in his last two starts to be the Bills No. 1 QB for the rest of the season.
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]

The Presidential election is just a week away. You wouldn't know it by the talk on the streets of Buffalo or listen to the local radio stations. All the buzz centers around who should start at quarterback for the Bills once Rob Johnson heals from his shoulder injury. With the nation in the middle of an energy crisis and a possible war breaking out in the Middle East, everyone is talking Flutie vs. Johnson in Western New York and Southern Ontario. WGR Sports Radio 55 is going so far as to distribute free campaign posters for people to put on their front lawns supporting their favorite candidate .... for starting Bills QB.

It all started after the regular season game last year when the Bills blew out the Indianapolis Colts. Rob Johnson played an outstanding game against the Colts when he completed 24 out of 32 for 287 yards and tossed two touchdown passes. After that game, Bills coach Wade Phillips made the gutsy call to play Johnson in the wildcard game against the Tennessee Titans. The Bills lost that game on a controversial "Home Run Throwback" when the Titans scored on a last second kickoff return which involved a lateral that Phillips claims to this day was a forward lateral. Johnson left the field with the Bills winning the game, but the team lost anyway because the special teams could not stop the runback.

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Christie's heroics beats Pats in OT

By Rick Anderson

The two stars of the game, Doug Flutie and Steve Christie
[REUTERS Photo/Brian Snyder ]

Bill Belichick had Doug Flutie in check for the entire second half. Now all the Patriots head coach had to do was to keep him from guiding the Bills into field goal range and the Pats had their third victory of the year. Belichick, the coach who wrote the book on how to contain Flutie, was now in his glory. He had his game plan operating effectively and had finally shut down the Bills offense in the second half.

Flutie, however, was able to scramble and pass the Bills into Steve Christie's range and the Bills clutch kicker was able to boot a 48-yard field go to send the game into overtime. Those two players combined to do it again in the sudden death period and Christie's 3rd field goal of the game iced it for Buffalo 16-13.

Bledsoe's early exit

The game might have had a different outcome had Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe been able to finish the game. He left with ten minutes remaining in the first half after he hit his throwing hand on Sam Rogers helmet. Backup quarterback John Friesz came in and did an adequate job, guiding them to a touchdown and a possible winning field goal late in the game.

Friesz had the Pats down in the red zone in the first half, but a John Holecek interception foiled that great opportunity. Early in the final quarter, Friesz completed a pass to Troy Brown at the Bills 1-yard line. The Bills D, which had stuffed the Pats running attack the whole game, especially in the red zone, finally was penetrated after three attempts by J.R. Redmond from one yard out and the game was tied at 10.

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Bizarre play helps Bills tame the Bears

By Rick Anderson

It took a wild play at the end of the game to vault the Buffalo Bills to a 20-3 victory over the Chicago Bears. The offense couldn't put the Bears out of their misery, so the defense had to step up and finish off the wounded Bears once and for all.

Eric Moulds makes a leaping catch against R.W. McQuarters
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]

With the Bills leading 13-3 and the Bears driving at the Buffalo 32 with only 2:56 remaining in the game, reserve quarterback Shane Matthews wanted to produce a quick strike. What transpired was the most bizarre play of the Bills season so far. Right when Matthews was about to launch his pass, his throwing arm was hit by Sam Rogers forcing the ball out. Keith Newman recovered the ball and rambled down to the Chicago 35 and then he coughed it up. The ball bounced inches from the sideline before Daryl Porter scooped it up at the 23 and raced the rest of the way for the touchdown eliminating any possibility of a Bears comeback.

Defense saves the day

The Bills defense has to get the game ball here for declawing the Bears all afternoon. Chicago was able to get only three points and when they were threatening to make it close at the end, took the ball away and scored only the second Buffalo touchdown of the day. The Bills D took the ball away 4 times, 3 on interceptions of Matthews, and the other was his fumble. Keion Carpenter picked off two of Matthews' passes, becoming the first Bill to have two interceptions in a game for two years.

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Bills one-two punch knocks out Chiefs

By Rick Anderson

It took the Buffalo Bills two enormous plays to dethrottle the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium as the Bills beat the Chiefs 21-17. A spectacular diving touchdown by Bills quarterback Rob Johnson and a key interception by Keion Carpenter late in the game sealed the Chiefs fate and practically eliminated them from one of the playoff spots the Bills are after.

Rob Johnson leaps towards the pylon at the goal line as Chiefs defenders Marvcus Patton (53) and William Bartee (24) attempt to stop him from scoring. After a review, the officials ruled that Johnson broke the plane of the goal line and was awarded a touchdown.
[AP Photo/Charlie Riedel]

Both the Johnson TD dive and the Carpenter pick were crucial in the victory, but the absolute killer as far as the Chiefs were concerned had to be the Johnson touchdown run. The Bills were facing third and goal from the KC 12 and the Chiefs were up 17-14 late in the fourth quarter. Johnson went back to pass, saw the pocket collapsing on both sides of him and decided to take it up the middle. The Bills quarterback dashed through the crowd at the line, saw daylight, and veered towards the left corner. As he approached the goal line, Johnson saw two KC defenders (Marvcus Patton and William Bartee) he would have to get past in order to score. Instead of plowing through them, Johnson suddenly leaped up as if he were going to slam-dunk a basketball. As the two defenders converged on Johnson, he was sailing high over them while holding the ball out in front of him. As Johnson glided in mid-air towards the pylon, he held the football out in front of him to break the plane as he fell out of bounds. It was almost like Michael Jordan leaping high to make one of his patented soaring slams. Johnson decided to take to the air when he reached the three yard line and no one was to detain him from reaching his final destination.

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Massacre in Tampa Bay

By Rick Anderson

It was a war zone out there. The Buffalo Bills not only lost the game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-17, but also lost three of their defensive starters in the first half alone. The Bills were battered physically as well as on the scoreboard as the Bucs blew the game open in the latter part of the game.

Double Sack Attack! Marcellus Wiley and Sam Cowart do the double whammy to Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King in the first quarter. Cowart was later injured in the first half with an high ankle sprain which will keep him out for a month.
[AP Photo/Chris O'Meara]

The Buffalo Bills sidelines resembled an emergency room with all the injured players hobbling off. Bills quarterback Rob Johnson was brutally assailed on the playing field and even he had to come off for a while. Many others walked off with various injuries, but came back into the game. The major injuries were to Sam Cowart and safety Keion Carpenter, who both left with high ankle sprains. Sam Rogers left with what was originally described as a torn groin muscle, but was downgraded Monday as a pulled groin. All three could miss as much as a month - the worst possible time for the Bills during the final playoff stretch.

Playoff hopes mangled

By losing to Tampa Bay the Bills now stand 7-5 and, while they still have a good chance to make the playoffs mathematically, their playoff hopes were severely damaged by the three injuries. The Bills, who entered the game without cornerbacks Antoine Winfield and Donovan Greer along with Phil Hansen, now will be lucky to have Rogers, Cowart and Carpenter for the last game of the season against Seattle.

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SQUISHED!

By Rick Anderson

The Buffalo Bills playoff hopes were squished by the Miami Dolphins when the Fish demolished the Bills 33-6. It was a pathetic effort by both the Bills offensive and defensive units as the Dolphins ran over the Bills right from the get-go.
Rob Johnson gets sacked by the Dolphins. He was hauled down 5 times and threw for only 44 yards, including two picks. Worst game ever for Johnson.
[Reuters Photo/Jerek Gee]

The Dolphins came out of the gate ready to exploit the Bills injury-plagued defense and they succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. The Bills were using the injury excuse even before they took the field. In fact, they had been prepping their fans and media all week with their "poor us" attitude.

Bills coach Wade Phillips did a appalling job in getting the team prepared for the most important game of the season. There wasn't anything in the game plan to give Bills quarterback Rob Johnson more time than he had in the first meeting between the two clubs. As a result, the Dolphins sacked Johnson 5 times and took away his favorite receiver Eric Moulds at the same time.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was well known to all what the Bills weaknesses were. With Sam Rogers, Sam Cowart, and Keion Carpenter out of the lineup, the Dolphins made their game plan to exploit the new players replacing them.

"Our game plan was to come out and run the ball effectively and really test the young linebackers that were in there," Fiedler said. "We put ourselves in a great position right now."

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Wade's waffling on thin ice

By Rick Anderson

Wade Phillips is looking more and more like Bill Clinton, a lame duck leader. Phillips has continuously mismanaged not only the media but his team as well. He never handled the quarterback controversy between Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson well. His waffling from making any firm commitment (on anything) from day one has not endeared him with the press and probably the same can be said about the regard he gets from his players. How can any player respect a coach who has made more blunders than his special teams units this year.
Wade Phillips may be on his way out as Bills head coach
[Bills Photo]

The Bills entered the season with high expectations, especially after they beat the Titans in the opening game. After winning their second game, the hopes of Bills fans soared even higher. Then the roof fell in.

Phillips has defended the hiring of special teams coach Ronnie Jones and tried to blame his players for the poor play. Jones had never coached special teams before this year and no one knows the reasoning why Phillips hand picked Jones to replace the fired Bruce DeHaven. While Jones is being blasted by fans and media alike for his poor special teams coaching this year, DeHaven is sitting pretty in San Francisco and laughing about the Bills plight.

Phillips made one of his most dubious gaffes last week when he was describing the duties of Chris Watson, the Bills punk and kick returner.

"Chris Watson is our safest guy so to speak," Wade said. "He's done what he can do, but he's not a punt returner he's a punt catcher and that's basically what we have to live with."

That comment sparked hot criticism of Phillips in the Buffalo media all week. It was only the latest in ongoing asinine dialog that has come out of Phillips mouth since he took over the head coaching job from Marv Levy a few years ago.

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Bills Eulogy

By Rick Anderson

Complete embarrassment. How else could you describe the 44-20 thrashing the Indianapolis Colts gave the Buffalo Bills in front of a national MNF audience.

Rob Johnson gets sacked here by Colts safety Jason Belser. Johnson was sacked 8 times in this game.
[AP Photo/Tom Strattman]

As much as the loss to the Miami Dolphins was a horrendous exhibition by the Bills, this one was even worse. Rob Johnson had his worst game as a professional against the Dolphins...until the disastrous performance against the Colts.

Eight sacks! No matter how pitiful one's offensive line is, a quarterback should not get dumped 8 times in a game. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture.

Second half collapse

The game was like night and day. The first half was a defensive struggle and turned into a field goal kicking competition between Bills kicker Steve Christie and Mike Vanderjagt. Christie kicked field goals of 29 and 46 yards, while Vanderjagt was good on kicks from 37, 23 and 39.

In the second half, the bottom fell out for the Buffalo Bills. It all started when Chris Mohr attempted to punt while deep in his territory. For some reason, Mohr hesitated before punting, taking an extra step before putting his foot to the ball. Indy's Paul Shields was able to get in and push a Bills lineman into the path of the ball. It went off his back and the Colts recovered at the Bills 25. It was the beginning of the end of the Bills 2000 season. At the time, the Colts were up by 9-6. Edgerrin James proceeded to score from 1 yard to put the Colts up by 10.

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Bills lose Snow Bowl

By Rick Anderson

The game was practically meaningless. Both teams were out of the playoffs, and there was nothing to play for except for pride and survival of the elements. In a blinding blizzard, the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 13-10 when Adam Vinatieri was able to kick a 24-yarder into the full force of the wind to beat the Bills with only 19 seconds left in overtime.

Kickers' nightmare

The conditions were treacherous for kickers in the Bills-Pats game. Here Steve Christie slips and falls on the snow covered field in a blotched field goal attempt in the third quarter. Chris Mohr, the Bills punter, was the holder on the play. Mohr also had a terrible day punting in the gale force winds.
[AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli]

There have been numerous Bills games played in Orchard Park that have been memorable. There was that "hurricane game" back in the early 70s when Joe Ferguson and Joe Namath battled it out in hurricane force winds and the rain, there have been several games with the wind-chill well below zero and tons of snow games. But this game between the Bills and Pats has to go right up there with the most miserable games, weatherwise, in Buffalo Bills history.

With wind gusts over 40 mph, it was a battle between the players and the elements. The snow started to mix with the wind at halftime and by game's end, the yard markers were impossible to see. As the game progressed, the snow became harder and it became the survival of the fittest. The Patriots proved to be the most fit in this game.

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John Butler gets the boot

By Rick Anderson

In one of the most shocking events in Buffalo Bills history, Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson fired his GM Tuesday. Butler was at the end of his contract in February and was a highly sought commodity in the NFL for a GM position with other clubs. Wilson made it easy for Butler to start his search immediately by cutting his ties with Buffalo.

The reason for the sudden firing was given when Wilson held a press conference to announce his decision to terminate Butler's contract. Since Butler's contract was to end after this season, Wilson has been on Butler's case to sign a new contract since training camp began last July. Butler kept putting Wilson off, never giving him a definite answer. Wilson claims that he approached him 6 times and could not get him to agree to terms.

"I could never get anything definitive from him," the Bills owner said. "I had a very uneasy feeling. Maybe he didn't want to be with the Bills."

Wilson supposedly offered Butler a salary comparable to the 8 top General Managers in the league and then upped his ante even more with no response from his GM.

"John Butler has refused to give an answer and it is time to move forward.," Wilson said. "I talked to him on 6 occasions and have not been given a definite answer. I spoke to him Friday and couldn't get anything definitive."

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Shootout in Seattle

By Rick Anderson

Doug Flutie takes off for a big gain against the Seahawks.
[AP Photo/Jay Drowns]

Where was this offense the last four games? In an old fashioned Wild Wild West shootout, the Buffalo Bills completely destroyed the hapless Seattle Seahawks 42-23. After losing four straight games, the Bills put on an offensive show that has not been seen in quite a few years.

In a driving rain at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium, Bills quarterback Doug Flutie put on a display worthy of a former Heisman Trophy winner. If this was going to going to be Flutie's last game in a Bills uniform, he was going to go out in a blaze of glory. The Bills diminutive quarterback threw for an NFL career high 366 yards while completing an awesome 20 out of 25 passes for 3 touchdowns. If the Bills have to cut one of their two $5 million quarterbacks, Flutie wanted to make them think twice about releasing him.

"I've got no control over it," Flutie said about coming back next year. "All I'm thinking about is playing football."

Offense in high gear

They say it is never too late to perform like champions, and the Bills offense did everything right in their final performance of the year. With Flutie at the throttles, the Bills generated 579 yards against the worst defense in the league. That came just 3 yards short of the all-time Bills record of 592 set against the Miami Dolphins in 1991 to open that season. This was also the most points the Bills have scored in two seasons. Flutie's targets were Eric Moulds, who caught 4 for 101 yards, Peerless Price, who had 8 for 132 yards, Jay Riemersma, who snagged 3 for 24 yards and Jeremy McDaniel, who had 55 yards on 2 receptions.

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Wade Phillips fired!

By Rick Anderson

Now the Bills have to start from the ground up. Late Sunday evening it was learned that Buffalo Bills owner let go his team's head coach Wade Phillips when he refused to fire special teams coach Ronnie Jones.

Wade Phillips is no longer the Bills head coach
[Bills Photo]

Phillips did not want to give the pink slip to Jones after giving him the vote of confidence after the season. Phillips gave all his coaches high marks after the Bills finished 8-8 this season. Most experts disagreed with Phillips assessment of his coaching staff and apparently Wilson was one of them. Jones 1-year term as special teams coach was a travesty. He would have his punter and kicker kick short bloopers to avoid long runbacks. Also his special teams were rated around the bottom of the league. Pendry also did a poor job with the offense the past two years. Although he did not make the decision about the starting quarterback, he was in the middle of the raging quarterback controversy between Doug Flutie and Rob Johnson.

"Buffalo special teams' record was among the worst in the National Football League last season," said Wilson when he announced the firing. "I felt we needed a change and that my request was reasonable ... I did not want to release Wade but his refusal left me with no option."

READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT PHILLIPS FIRING......


Donahoe named new Bills GM

By Rick Anderson

Tom Donahoe, the Bills new GM and President has his work cut out for him. The Bills new General Manager will have to not only find a new head coach, but also will have to replace most if not all of former head coach Wade Phillips' assistants. On top of all that, Donahoe will have to get the Bills salary cap in order, which is way over the cap limit for next year.

Wednesday morning Bills owner Ralph Wilson made it official in hiring Donahoe to replace the fired John Butler as the new Buffalo GM. Butler was fired a month ago when he would not make a commitment with Wilson for a new contract. Two days before Donahoe's hiring, Wilson fired Phillips as the Bills coach when Bum Phillips' son refused to fire his special teams coach Ronnie Jones.

For full details about the hiring of Donahoe, click on the ESPN link below

READ THE FULL ESPN ARTICLE ABOUT TOM DONAHOE......


New Bills era starts under Donahoe

By Rick Anderson

It marked a new beginning. The Bills owner of 41 years, Ralph C. Wilson, was turning over the keys of the franchise to Tom Donahoe. Wilson not only named Donahoe the Bills new General Manager, but also handed the Presidency of the team over to him. The Buffalo Bills ship would now be guided by Donahoe and the new GM was ready for the stormy seas that lurked ahead.

Tom Donahoe answers questions at his introduction press conference
[BUFFALO NEWS Photo/James P. McCOY]

Donahoe's predecessor, John Butler, had made a mess of the Bills salary cap. It is estimated that the Bills are between $11 - 16 million over the new salary cap. Donahoe knows that this "ain't gonna be a walk in the park" patching up the leaks that threaten to sink the ship.

The first order of business for Donahoe is to find a new head coach. Wade Phillips was fired this week when he refused to let go of special teams coach Ronnie Jones.

"The biggest priority is the coaching situation," Donahoe addressed the media in the official press conference that introduced him as the Bills new GM. "I just told the staff that there will not be immediate, drastic changes. It's business as usual, it's a great organization and they certainly don't need me to tell them how to do their job. That's one of the reasons I went to the East-West practices, to speak to Dwight [Adams], to make sure he was on board, and wanted to stay, and he assured me that he would. I talked to a couple of scouts out there, including Mr. Wilson's daughter Linda and visited with them to reassure them I'm not coming in with a big hatchet to hack up the organization. It doesn't need to be hacked up. We need to find a coach, that's a major priority, and we'll get started on that right away."

READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT DONAHOE......


Gregg Williams knocks Donahoe's socks off with great interview


Bills new head coach beat the competition hands down

By Rick Anderson

After weeks of speculation, the Bills finally named their new head coach on Thursday. The man who steps into Wade Phillips old position is Gregg Williams.
Meet the new men in charge! The man who has been the owner and president of the team since it's inception in 1959, Ralph Wilson, holds a Bills helmet as he is surrounded by the new men who will guide his ship. Gregg Williams (left), who was introduced as the new Bills Head Coach, joins the new Bills GM, Tom Donahoe (right) in laughing it up with the Bills owner.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

This was a big surprise until the last minute when rumors of front runner Marvin Lewis dropping in the race for the head coaching position surfaced. Lewis, who was considered the top candidate for the Bills coaching position, was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, who just won the Super Bowl over the New York Giants.

Bills new GM Tom Donahoe interviewed Lewis, the Giants defensive coordinator John Fox along with the Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. Williams delivered such an overpowering interview that it blew the socks off of Donahoe.

"Gregg brings to our franchise a long list of very impressive credentials," said Donahoe. "He did a remarkable job during the interview process and made a strong presentation for his plans to lead our team into the next chapter of Bills winning football. His strengths are in the areas of leadership, knowledge of the game of football, organizational skills, and people skills."

READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT THE BILLS NEW COACH......


Doug Flutie is given the boot!

The Buffalo Bills made probably the biggest decision in their history when they made it know late this afternoon that they were going to go with the younger Rob Johnson over the 38-year old Doug Flutie. It was a gutsy move by the Bills General Manager Tom Donahoe, who after conducting personal interviews with both quarterbacks last week, made a decision that will not bode well with at least half the Bills fans in Western New York and across North America. But it was a decision that he felt he had to make. Weighing all the evidence and the fact that Flutie could possibly have only one or two more years left, the Bills staff decided to go with the youth.

Bills fans were on pins and needles all day, waiting for the final decision that they had been anticipating since Donahoe revealed that one of the quarterbacks had to go to get down to the NFL salary cap limit. As the day wore on and no decision had not been made, it appeared as if head coach Williams and Donahoe may have been having a difference of opinion on whom to keep. Finally, at around 5 PM Wednesday afternoon, the announcement was made.

Ever since the Bills brought in both Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie three years ago, there has been a heated quarterback controversy not only in the stands but in the locker room. The debate so polarized the community and the team that in order for the Bills to focus on their goals for next season, one of them had to go. The Bills chose to show Flutie the door.

READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT DOUG FLUTIE......


Copyright 2002 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.

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