Bills Thunder

Bills 2001 Season Results

Saints second half romp curtails Bills

By Rick Anderson
Saints defensive tackle La'Roi Glover dumps often sacked Bills quarterback Rob Johnson in the first quarter of a 24-6 loss to the Saints. Johnson was sacked 4 times and picked off 3 times.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

It's all about momentum. It was a tale of two halves in the Buffalo Bills opening game against the New Orleans Saints. The Bills had it in the first half, but the Saints snatched it away in the second half as they beat the Bills 24-6. The man who did all the "snatching" was Sammy Knight. Knight picked off three Rob Johnson passes in the third quarter which resulted in two touchdowns and a field goal for New Orleans.

Knight stole the Bills thunder and put a charge into the Saints and they took complete control of the game in the second half. The Bills appeared as if they could continue to contain the Saints with their dominating defense, but the Knight interceptions lit a fire under the Saints' offense and they scored on two of his turnovers.

Johnson came into the game without the Doug Flutie monkey on his back. Now he was his own man and could concentrate completely on the task before him. Unfortunately, Johnson didn't look any better than he did in the preseason, where he struggled with the newly-implanted West Coast offense. There were times when Johnson seemed to show signs of getting out of his funk, but then a sack here, and interception there put him in the state of disarray that has plagued his career since he came to Buffalo.


Colts stampede Bills in blowout

By Rick Anderson

There he goes again! Rob Johnson is sacked once again, this time by Colts defensive tackle Josh Williams, who did the honors in the 4th quarter of a 42-26 Indianapolis blowout of the Bills.
[AP Photo/Tom Strickland]

It is probably safe to use the "R" word now in reference to the Buffalo Bills this season. They are now officially in a rebuilding mode. After being completely blown out by the Indianapolis Colts 42-26 Sunday, the Bills can officially declare this season as a rebuilding project. Since Bills coach Gregg Williams has rid himself of the majority of Wade Phillips veterans, he can mode the third youngest team in his image. The problem is that Williams image is looking mighty gruesome these days. The Bills rookie coach, who came on the scene with his brimstone and fire attitude, has yet to win an NFL game. His arrogant attitude and his Marine drill sergeant ways annoyed several of the freshly departed Bills and it is known that the few remaining vets are not too happy with his "in your face" approach.

Be as it may, the Bills now find themselves 0-2 right off the bat. Last week's game was postponed because of the tragic events in New York City and Washington on September 11th, when three hijacked airliners crashed into the two World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The NFL has decided to make up all the postponed game the second week of January to conclude the regular season. That means the Bills will play at Miami on January 6.


It's curtains for Bills as Steelers blast Buffalo 20-3

By Rick Anderson

It gets bleaker by the game. The Buffalo Bills, once the proud and the mighty in the AFC, have fallen off badly since they cleaned house early this year. The Pittsburgh Steelers embarrassed the Bills 20-3 in their own stadium to give Buffalo a 0-3 record and sole possession of last place in the AFC East.

Bills quarterback Rob Johnson comes an inch short in his quest to score on a scramble in the first half. Had he scored, it may have changed the complexion of the game. The Bills eventually lost 20-3.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

When Tom Donahoe and Gregg Williams were brought in as the new GM and head coach respectively, Bills fans thought the team was headed in the right direction. After an 0-3 start, they are now wondering if Bills owner Ralph Wilson made the right choice in selecting Donahoe and Williams to replace former GM John Butler and coach Wade Phillips. Wilson himself may also be scratching his head about his selections after this humiliating defeat.

It was a perfect day for football, and with a patriotic sellout crowd waiving their American flags, the atmosphere was festive. Too bad the Bills didn't show up and give the kind of performance the fans have come to expect from their team.

The Bills figured that coming back home and facing a team like the Steelers offered them a good shot to win their first game of the season. As it turned out, is was almost a carbon copy of the preseason game in which the Steelers blanked Buffalo 20-0.


Bills fall apart at the seams

By Rick Anderson

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the roof caved in on the Buffalo Bills Sunday when they lost to the New York Jets 42-36. The score isn't an indication on how sloppy the Bills played. Four costly turnovers all led to Jet touchdowns and the Bills' tendency to lose the ball at the worst possible times is concerning to say the least.

Mo Lewis of the Jets puts the hurts on Bills quarterback Rob Johnson when he gives him an elbow that knocks him out of the game. There was no flag on the play even though the hit was late and flagrant.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Bumbling, stumbling, fumbling are perfect words for the Bills these days and they lived up to it Sunday before a cold, wind-blown crowd in Ralph Wilson Stadium. This is the worst Bills start since 1985, when they lost their first 6 games. The way things are going for the Bills, they may be hard pressed to win one game this season.

To make matters worse, Bills beleaguered quarterback Rob Johnson was injured when he was hit from behind by Jets' Mo Lewis. Lewis hit Johnson late with an elbow to the back of Johnson's head after Johnson had scrambled with the ball. It was a blatant hit and will be reviewed by the league which is trying to crack down on those kind of hits on quarterbacks. A stiff fine and maybe even a suspension is in order for Lewis.

"I'm running behind him and he's trying to slide," explained Lewis. "It seems like he popped back up. I can't stop on a dime. I still have to touch him. I just hustle to the ball and make a play."

"You give a guy a free shot," Johnson countered. "You're giving yourself up for a couple of yards. You are not supposed to be hit."


Finally a WIN!

By Rick Anderson

The Buffalo Bills finally won a game. It took them five games to get goose egg off the win column in the standings, but now the Bills know the feeling. On Thursday night, the Bills beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 13-10 in a game which looked like nobody wanted to win. The first half was downright ugly, as the Bills went to the locker room with a 3-0 lead. They finally were able to score a decisive touchdown and a field goal to take the lead late in the game, but it took a Bills interception at the end to seal Gregg Williams first victory as a head coach in the NFL.

Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell smashes through Bills defensemen Jay Foreman (55) and Antoine Winfield (26). McCardell is finally brought down after catching the pass from Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell.
[AP Photo/Scott Audette]

Jake Arians, the man who replaced Steve Christie as the Bills kicker, had to get himself off the hot seat by kicking the game winning fieldgoal with only 1:03 remaining. Arians, who missed field goals of 41 and 39 yards in the first half, knew that he had to make this one if he wanted any job security at all. With the uprights being 46 yards away, it was no easy kick, especially since he missed two shorter ones already.

"You miss two kicks. If you miss another you could be out of a job," said the elated Arians. "It's like, if you want a job next week, you better knock this one down. You don't want to let your teammates down. That's the big thing. They played their hearts out, so there was no way I was going to miss that kick."


Charged Showdown!

By Rick Anderson

Former Bills quarterback, Doug Flutie rambles towards paydirt, escapting the clutches of Shawn Price and Phil Hansen to score the winning touchdown.
[AP Photo/Fred Greaves]

All the hype and hoopla leading up to the Doug Flutie vs. Rob Johnson showdown did the actual game between the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers and injustice. The game was even better than billed.

Johnson limped off the field and into the locker room with an ankle injury. It appeared as if he were done for the day, but he came back out for the next series and played with the kind of grit and determination that Buffalo Bills fans haven't seen since Jim Kelly retired. In the game's waning moments, Johnson led the Bills down the field and into field goal position for 44-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left. The field goal was blocked and the San Diego Chargers were able to hold on for a 27-24 victory over the Bills. But that was not the real story of this game as far as Bills fans are concerned. The real story is that Rob Johnson has finally come of age and has taken the reigns of the team.

This was a signature game for Johnson. After hearing all the criticism the week leading up to the big showdown between Johnson and Flutie, Johnson played the most courageous game of his career. He was bruised, battered and woozy. But he got up every time and had that determination that nothing was going to stop him as long as he could walk. Johnson not only walked, but ran with abandon throughout the game. He was the Bills leading rusher with 67 yards on 11 carries. After spotting the Chargers the first 13 points, Johnson took control of the ball game. He would not be intimidated by former teammate Marcellus Wiley (who sacked Johnson twice) the raucous crowd, and the constant hits he was receiving at the hands of the Chargers. No, this was a game that Johnson had to finish, no matter how much pain was inflicted upon him.

Johnson staged a Bills comeback with the true grit former Bills great Jim Kelly was known for. With every bone in his body aching, Johnson came up for the count. Now the big question is whether he can do it every week and whether he can stay healthy for the remainder of the season.


Offensive line woes do in Bills

By Rick Anderson

HELP WANTED: Offensive linemen, preferably with at least two years NFL experience and the ability to block onrushing defensive linemen. Apply in person at Ralph Wilson Stadium, One Bills Drive, Orchard Park, New York.

Nate Clements is on his way for a 66 yards touchdown jaunt after retreiving a punt by Hunter Smith (17), who attemped in vain to tackle Clements.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

That advertisement could quite possibly be seen around the country this week as the Buffalo Bills try to shore up their depleted offensive line. Sunday, the Bills sported a rag-tag O'line that quite possibly could be the worst the NFL has ever seen in its storied existence. The result in having such a porous offensive line was the battering of their quarterback Rob Johnson and a 30-14 loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts.

If you are a Bills fan, the following description of the Buffalo massacre is not a sight deemed suitable for those of squeamish nature. It sure wasn't a pretty sight in the Ralph Sunday, as the Colts handed the Bills their heads on a platter.

With even more injuries to the Bills starters on the offensive line, the Bills had to turn to players who were fourth and fifth in the depth chart. John Fina was out with a knee injury while Jonas Jennings was nursing a foot injury. In came two greenhorns. Jon Carman, who was on the practice squad at the beginning of the year, took over at right tackle. The Bills 5th round draft choice last spring, Marques Sullivan, started only his second game in the NFL. The Bills have been putting kids on the line all season, only to have them go down with injuries and having to go further down the line in the depth chart. Excluding Ruben Brown, the four youngsters protecting Johnson had a total of 16 NFL starts between them.


Down the tubes in Bean town

By Rick Anderson

Former Bills running back Antowain Smith breaks through would-be tacklers and rambles 45 yards for the insurance touchdown in the last minutes of the game. The Pats beat the Bills 21-11 and Smith scored two rushing TDs.
[AP Photo/ Victoria Arocho]

The Buffalo Bills season has gone from bad to worse as quarterback Rob Johnson suffered a broken collar bone and may be lost for the season. The Bills lost to the New England Patriots 21-11, but had a chance to pull it out near the end of the game, only to come up empty-handed again.

With the Bills record now standing at 1-7 and Johnson out for at least 4-5 weeks, this season is turning from a nightmare to complete disaster. The rookie coaching staff doesn't have a clue on how to get the Bills out of their tailspin. All they know is that nothing they have tried so far is working and the Bills plight is getting bleaker every game.

Former Bill running back Antowain Smith took it to his former team, rushing 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns. The fact that reserve quarterback Alex Van Pelt came off the bench when Johnson came off the field with possibly a season-ending injury and rallied the Bills to within a field goal shows that the Bills could do well with Van Pelt at the controls. But even Van Pelt had problems and one of the main things the Bills have to address immediately is how to protect him from being another casually of an offensive line breakdown.


Bills lose again while Kelly is enshrined

By Rick Anderson

The Bills' Jay Foreman takes down the Seahawks' Mack Strong in the second half.
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]

It was a perfect day to honor former Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly. The weather was in the low 60s and the sun was brilliant. Former teammate and third string quarterback Alex Van Pelt did his best at impersonating Kelly, throwing for a career-high 316 yards and two touchdowns. Everything was picture perfect except the score. The Seattle Seahawks ruined the Kelly party by squeaking a 23-20 victory over the Bills.

This was a game asking to be taken and the Bills bungled it away. A missed field goal by Jake Arians and Van Pelt coughing up the ball while being sacked both went the other way and resulted in Seahawks field goals.

"It was miscommunication between all of us," Van Pelt said about the sack that resulted in his fumble. "We had the wrong personnel on the field and we were trying to clean things up at the formation right at the last second. With the clock ticking down, it is tough but part of the game and something that we need to improve on."


Dolphins' huge comeback stuns Bills

By Rick Anderson

Dolphins' receiver Chris Chambers brings in the winning touchdown as he beats Bills' Ken Irvin in the last minute of the game.
[AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli]

The stage was set. The Buffalo Bills seemed destined to pull off a big upset over the Miami Dolphins. The weather was almost perfect and the Bills had a 27-17 lead in the fourth quarter. In fact, after Travis Henry scored the Bills final touchdown 6:44 into the quarter, a lot of fans left the stadium thinking that the Bills were going to pull out their first home victory in 8 games. But then fate went against the Bills, or it was just the Bills found another way to lose.

Jay Fiedler proved his merit in guiding the Dolphins to a big comeback victory to keep pace with the New York Jets for first place in the AFC East. Coming back from that 10-point deficit, along with getting some good breaks along the way, could go a long ways in helping to determine the winner in the East.

Fielder was as cool as a cucumber, going 18-for-31 for 262 yards 3 TDs and no picks. His engineering the last 24 points in the fourth quarter stunned the sellout crowd that had its share of Dolphins fans.

"Jay Fiedler came up here with the mindset that he was going to do anything that he possibly could to help this team win," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "There is a fine line of having enough confidence to make a throw but not forcing anything. I think Jay went through that today and hopefully gained some confidence."


Prime Time embarrassment

By Rick Anderson

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, the Buffalo Bills played their worst game in 16 years on prime time TV. The San Francisco 49ers bombarded the Bills with everything they had, slaughtering them 35-0 Sunday night. It was a complete dismantling of the Bills, from special teams to offense and defense. There was nowhere for the Bills to hide. All their faults were exposed for everyone to inspect and their faults were bigger than the San Andreas fault.

Tai Streets makes a grab of a Jeff Garcia pass for a 23-yard touchdown.
[AP Photo]

The Bills came completely apart at the seems, from the start of the game till finish. There were stars aplenty for the Niners and none for the Bills. Garrison Hearst churned holes through the Bills defense, rushing for 124 yards and scoring a touchdown. Terrell Owens, the NFL All-Pro receiver, grabbed 6 passes for 72 yards and a score.

The Niners picked off Bills quarterback 4 times and Ahmed Plummer was the recipient of two of them. But the biggest key in the Niners West Coast attack was quarterback Jeff Garcia, who passed for 189 yards on 19 completions. He hit two crucial strikes in the endzone and was a cool as a cucumber when the Bills attempted to rush him. When the Niners ran the score up to 14-0 in the first half, Garcia converted third down situations 6 times.


Bills comeback shocks Panthers

By Rick Anderson

Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke gets hauled down by Buffalo's Nate Clements and Jay Foreman during second half action.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

It was being dubbed such titles as the Draft Pick Bowl, the Futility Bowl and the Toilet Bowl. The second and the third worst teams in the NFL were colliding in Ralph Wilson Stadium for what could decide the #2 or #3 picks in the college draft next year. The 1-10 Buffalo Bills were hosting the 1-11 Carolina Panthers and according to all the pregame hype, it was going to be ugly.

The game actually turned out to be highly entertaining as the Buffalo Bills came back from being down by 18 to stage a dramatic 25-24 victory over the Panthers. The Bills were down 24-6 late in the first half and scored 19 consecutive points to hand Carolina its 12th straight defeat.

While no one is comparing Alex Van Pelt to former Bills comeback King Frank Reich, Van Pelt was able to engineer several drives to help the Bills win their second game of the year. Van Pelt completed 20 out of 29 passes for 277 yards and one TD strike.


Bills lose shocker to Pats in OT

Patriots' receiver David Patten fumbles the ball after being hit by Bills' Keion Carpenter (29) and Nate Clements recovers it. However, the refs overruled the fumble recovery stating that Patten's head was out of bounds while the ball was still touching him. The Pats went on to kick the winning field goal in overtime after regaining possession.
[AP Photo/Mike Groll]

What can go wrong will most definitely go wrong for the Buffalo Bills, especially against the New England Patriots. The Bills took the Pats to overtime and apparently recovered a fumble at their 41 when the refs decided to do a video review and it was overturned. The ruling was controversial to say the least and after that, former Bills running back Antowain Smith galloped 38 yards to put the ball on the Bills 3, just about sealing the Bills fate.

A couple plays after Smith's backbreaking run, Adam Vinatieri was good on a 23-yard field goal attempt and the Pats had once again beaten Buffalo in overtime. This was the fourth sudden death game in the last five contests between the two clubs.

On a day which will go down as one of the most controversial officiated days in NFL history, the Bills had their share of contested calls. The most talked about one was when the Bills fumble recovery was taken away from them.


Bills come up short in Atlanta

By Rick Anderson

The Buffalo Bills made a game of it and almost forced overtime against the Atlanta Falcons, but once again couldn't hold on. Falcons' kicker Jay Feely came through with a 52-yard field goal on the very last play of the game giving the Falcons a 33-30 victory.

Bills' receiver Reggie Germany is tackled by Falcons' Ronnie Bradford after coming down with a 31-yard pass reception. He is finally brough down at the Atlanta 3, setting up the tying touchdown in the last minute of the game.
[AP Photo/Ric Feld]

The Bills had come down on a 82-yard drive to tie the game just 48 seconds before Feely's kick. Bills quarterback Alex Van Pelt had completed passes of 31 and 21 yards to Eric Moulds and a 31-yard pass to Reggie Germany down to the Atlanta 3 to set up the tying touchdown pass to Moulds. Van Pelt completed 17 of 31 for 208 yards.

"I think we do well under pressure," said Van Pelt about the last minute drive to tie the game. "We've moved the ball well in the two-minute drill. It was something we expected."

It was Chris Chandler who was the story of this game. He threw for a franchise record 431 yards, completing 28 of 40 for two touchdowns. He was also picked off twice, one for a touchdown by Brandon Spoon in the second quarter. However, Chandler, who was suffering from the flu, had the best game in his career. He had to get intravenous injections at halftime just to come back out on the field for the third quarter.

"When I was laying there getting those IVs," Chandler said. "I just felt totally wiped.. I didn't know if I was going to be able to go."


Bills deny Jets playoff berth

By Rick Anderson

Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde gets rid of the ball when Jay Foreman and Bryce Fisher put the heat on him in the fourth quarter.
[AP Photo/Bernie Nunez]

The Buffalo Bills played the spoilers Sunday in East Rutherford, as they defeated the New York Jets 14-9, preventing the Jets from clinching a playoff berth. The Jets were knocking on the door of victory with 13 ticks of the clock left. However, Jets' quarterback Vinny Testaverde blew his chance to get his team into the endzone and the Bills walked away with their third victory of the season.

Once again, the Jets shot themselves in the foot when they had every opportunity to win this one.

"We just blew a big opportunity. I guess we just have to learn the hard way. This loss is a great discipline for us," said Jets running back Curtis Martin.

The Bills came up with a stellar defensive game, once again shutting out their opponent from the endzone. There were plenty of key plays on defense. The offense, meanwhile, still struggled getting points when the defense set them up in great position.


Bitter end to a bitter season

By Rick Anderson

Mercifully, the 2001 Buffalo Bills season is over. It has to go down as one of the most disastrous seasons, if not the worst, in Bills history. The Bills ended 3-13, only one game better than the much talked about years of gloom in the 1980s when they fell to 2-14. The Bills were blown away 34-7 by the Miami Dolphins to finally put to rest a horrendous season.

Dolphins' Lamar Smith tore up the Bills defense in the last regular season game, churning up158 yards and scoring one TD.
[AP Photo/Alan Diaz]

What went wrong with this team that was 8-8 last season? So many things went wrong for the Bills last season that a more appropriate question should be "What went right?"

"I don't think you can look back on the season and pick out a lot of good things," articulated quarterback Alex Van Pelt

There were a few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy year. Rookie running back Travis Henry showed that he can be a big factor in the Bills plans for the future. Shawn Bryson also looked sharp in the two games before Sunday's game with the Dolphins, when he had two consecutive games over 100 yards. Alex Van Pelt did an adequate job coming in when starting quarterback Rob Johnson went down with a broken collar bone. First round draft choice Nate Clements showed some promise this year and will be one of the central pieces in the Bills defense for years to come.


Copyright 2001 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.


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