The Buffalo Bills geared up for the playoffs with one of their most impressive games of the season. Rob Johnson, starting his first game of the season, played an almost flawless game in leading the Bills to a 31-6 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
|Bruce Smith and Marcellus Wiley get called for roughing the passer after taking Peyton Manning down after the pass |
Johnson was 24 out of 32 for 287 yards and tossed two touchdown passes. He also showed that he too can scramble when he ran for 39 yards on 4 carries. On the Bills first three possessions, Johnson led the his squad to touchdowns.
The Colts started off the game with a 72 yard drive on 10 plays that resulted in a 27 yard field goal.
Johnson was on fire from the get-go as he led the Bills down the field on Buffalo's first possession. On the first play from scrimmage, Johnson found Andre Reed on a 63 yard pass completion down to the Colts. 20. Antowain Smith finished the drive off with a 21 yard touchdown run.
Rob Johnson scrambles for some yardage|
On the second Bills possession, Johnson had a 42 yard strike to Eric Moulds that got the ball down to the Indianapolis 28. A couple runs by Jonathan Linton got the ball to the 23. On third and five from the 23, Johnson hit Peerless Price and Price got into the endzone in the right corner, running over the pylon. Originally the referee ruled that Price was out of bounds, but Wade Phillips challenged the call and it was reversed. It was a 6-play, 80 yard drive and put the Bills in front 14-3.
The Colts got their final points of the game as they kicked a 24 yard field goal following a 14-play, 70 yard drive. That was it for an offense that had been terrorizing the rest of the NFL. It was a feared offense that featured Peyton Manning, a quarterback projected as the next superstar at his position. The defense shut the explosive Colt offense down and finishes the season as the No. 1 defense in the entire league.
Kevin Williams makes a grab of a Rob Johnson pass |
Rob Johnson completed a 1 yard touchdown pass to Bobby Collins to finish an 8-play, 44 yard drive 49 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Bills up 28-6. Buffalo completed its scoring when Steve Christie was good on a 19 yard field goal attempt.
Quarterback controversy? Not if you ask Wade Phillips. Phillips made it perfectly clear who the starter will be next week against Tennessee and it wasn't the quarterback who had starred in this game.
"I've already answered these questions," Phillips retorted. "I'm not mad that Rob played well. I want him to be as good as he can be. I thought he had a heck of a game today. If we have to utilize him or need to utilize him then we will."
"He was spectacular," said Bills owner Ralph Wilson. When asked if the Bills should start Johnson in the playoff game, Wilson answered, "I will not get into that."
Johnson, who hadn't started a game since the final regular season game against the Saints last season, had complete command in the game and looks ready to lead the Bills any time they need him.
Kevin Williams finds some daylight after catching pass against the Colts |
Not only did Buffalo manhandle the Colts in the air, but they also outrushed the Colts 132 yards to 44.
"They kicked our tail today," Colts' coach Jim Mora said. "They kicked it in just about every way that you can get it kicked."
Accolades have to go out to the Bills defense who stopped the No.1 ranked AFC passer dead in his tracks. Manning hit 18 out of 29 for a season-low 163 yards. After throwing at least one touchdown pass in every game this season, Manning now has been shutout for two straight contests.
Steve Walsh took over for Manning midway through the final quarter and completed 3 out of 8 passes for only 19 yards and one interception. The Colts finished the season 13-3, but the loss prevented them from clinching home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Thus the Colts had a lot at stake and the Bills beat them with a lot of backups in the lineup.
Andre Reed, with his fifth catch of the game, moved ahead of Art Monk to become the NFL's 2nd all-time receiver. He made his 941st catch in the fourth quarter. Now Reed is behind only Jerry Rice in receptions. When it was announced that Reed had passed Monk, he received a standing ovation from the crowd in Ralph Wilson Stadium and had a hard time holding back the tears.
Andre Reed gets congratulated by Eric Moulds after Reed caught his 941st reception, to go past Art Monk and into second place for career receptions. |
"I think I still can play," a choked up Reed said after the game. "I'm not so far underground that I can't get out. My head's still peaking out. I came in here every year knowing that in order for me to be the best that I could be I have to got that extra mile, the extra foot, the extra yard. I have to do that because I have other guys looking at me. I'm a standard that the young guys look at here. You know Bruce and Thurman are the same way. The young kids look at us and they want to know how we did it so long. So I know that when I'm gone that there were some people in there that got something out of me."
Thurman Thomas, who was rested for the game shared the moment with Reed after he climbed into the No. 2 spot.
"Once he came off the field, myself and Bruce were the first ones to hug him because we've been around Andre the longest," Thomas said. "It's just something special. We don't know whether he's going to retire or come back next year. We're just glad he got the record."
Copyright © 1999 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.
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