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Bills Escape Baltimore With 13-10 Win
Defense kept the team in the game and then made two big plays.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 31, 1999
Wade Phillips said during the week he wanted the club to come out and act like it was 10-0 down. Well, they took him literally and fell into a 10-0 hole after one quarter. The defense clamped down on an anemic Ravens offense and then made some big plays in the final quarter to give the offense the ammunition it needed to defeat the Ravens 13-10 in Baltimore.
The play of the defense let Baltimore move into Buffalo territory on the first drive before forcing a punt on a nice play by Antoine Winfield. The drive by Baltimore gave them an edge in field position they would hold much of the first half. When the Bills went three and out it left the Ravens in great shape for a 50 yard drive in 10 plays to their only touchdown, a 7 yard pass to former Bill Justin Armour. Flutie then threw his first of three interceptions but the defense held the Ravens to a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
That was all the scoring the Ravens would do today, but it seemed like it would hold up, as the Bills offense was pathetic and couldn't get anything going against a very good and fast defensive team. Doug Flutie struggled all day, he could have easily thrown 6 interceptions as the Ravens defensive backs dropped three easy picks. One of them deflected to Andre Reed for a first down early in the second quarter that set up a scoring opportunity. They didn't cash in on it though, as a poor snap on the field goal attempt kept the Bills off of the scoreboard.
The defense kept its clamps on the Ravens forcing back to back three and outs. On the Ravens next possession they drove downfield only to have a 51 yard field goal blocked by Pat Williams. This was a questionable call by the Ravens coaching staff. Their defense was dominating and a punt could've pinned the Bills deep in their own territory so they wouldn't be able to score. Since he missed the attempt Flutie and company took over with just over two minutes to go in the first half at their 41 yard line. This was enough time to drive downfield to a 25 yard Steve Christie field goal and a 10-3 halftime deficit. Flutie converted a big third down on that series by scrambling for the first down and then hitting Andre Reed on a third down pass just short of the first down to setup the score.
In the second half the offense was inept as the first four series resulted in two punts and two interceptions. Fortunately, the Bills defense was up to the task and forced the Ravens to punt on their first three possessions of the second half, as the pass rush started to put good pressure on Tony Banks.
As the fourth quarter started it was apparent that the defense stopping the Ravens wasn't good enough, they were going to have to make some big plays in the final period in order for the Bills to win. They made two of them, and that is a big reason the Bills pulled this game out of the fire. Early in the quarter on a 2nd and 5 from midfield Banks, under pressure from Gabe Northern had his pass intercepted by Kurt Schultz who returned it 24 yards to put the Bills in scoring position. If he hadn't slipped he may have gone the distance. On a big 4th and 7 play on this drive Phillips showed guts and went for it and Flutie found Kevin Williams open for a first down. The Bills drove all the way down to the one yard line and had a first and goal looking to tie when Flutie was sacked and John Fina was called for roughness putting the ball back to the 24 yard line. Surprisingly, the refs called it first and goal instead of second goal. The Bills couldn't get closer and would settle for Christie's second field goal of the game on what was a very halloween-like weird 13 yards in 12 plays drive to a 10-6 game.
With the Ravens trying to run out the clock the defense rose to the occasion again as Northern pulled off another big play. He chased down Banks from behind and stripped the football away, Sam Rogers recovered and returned it into Ravens territory to setup what would be the game winning touchdown drive. Flutie was still struggling and despite hitting Peerless Price for a first down they were facing a 4th and 15 play with just over two minutes to go. Flutie scrambled again, avoiding Ray Lewis for one of the few times in the game, and gained 17 yards for the first down. The Bills are now 7 of 10 on fourth down conversions this year, 2 of 3 in this game. Two plays later facing a third down situation he hit Andre Reed, who was his go to guy today, for a first down at the five yard line. This is where Flutie magic had one more trick in his basket as he rolled to his right avoiding the rush and finding Jonathan Linton in the end zone for the winning score.
Flutie was awful for 57 minutes as the Bills trailed all the way, but he was "magical" in the final minutes and did what he does best and that is win football games. It wasn't pretty, and if the defense wasn't so stellar it would've been a loss. In the NFL you take a win whenever you can get it, especially on the road when facing a possible three game losing streak. The last game of this road trip is next Sunday in Washington against the offensive powerhouse Redskins.
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