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Bills Scalp Skins 34-17
Best all around effort of the season leads Bills to victory.
by Steve Saslow
Nov. 7, 1999
The Bills put it all together as Doug Flutie threw for two touchdowns and the running game cranked out over 200 yards including two Antowain Smith touchdowns as the Bills shocked the high powered Washington Redskins 34-17 in the nation's capital.
This game started off as the last four games did, with the Bills trailing. Brad Johnson led the potent Redskins' offense to a 66 yard touchdown drive in 8 plays culminating with a Stephen Davis eight yard scamper for the score. The big play of the drive was a third down completion for 23 yards to Michael Westbrook that beat Ken Irvin who was penalized on the play. The call could have gone either way, so the first break went Washington's way and they capitalized by pounding the ball up the middle to a 7-0 lead.
The Bills offense took the field and scored 17 points on their next three positions as Flutie moved the club at ease against the worst defense in the league. They marched 63 yards in 12 plays on their first possession only to settle for a 23 yard Steve Christie field goal and a 7-3 game. The Redskins then moved the ball into Buffalo territory but tried a 55 yard field goal with the wind at their back. Brett Conway had the distance but was wide left and that set the Bills up in great field position. Flutie then moved them 55 yards in 10 plays to Bobby Collins' first touchdown catch of his career to give the Bills the lead at 10-7. Jonathan Linton ran the ball well gaining 20 yards on this drive as the Bills started to move the ball on the ground with success, using Linton, Smith, and Flutie. Linton led the way with a career high 96 yards on 24 carries in a starting role. Smith ran with authority off the bench adding 68 yards on 20 carries and two scores. Flutie scrambled for 40 yards on 5 carries including a huge fourth down conversion on the Bills second scoring drive.
The Skins tied the game at 10 with 5:24 to go in the half on a 41 yard field goal by Conway. The next possession by the Bills turned the game in their favor for good as they used up the rest of the half to score the go ahead touchdown and to lead 17-10 at the half. A 34 yard pass to the now healthy Jay Riemersma got the drive going. The big gamble then came on 4th and 5 from the 23. Rather than try a 40 yard field goal into the wind the Bills put their 70% efficiency on fourth down to the test. They came out in the spread formation and Flutie performed magic by making the defenders miss a couple of times as he deeked his way past the first down marker for 8 yards. Smith took over from there gaining 11 yards on his next two carries setting up a first and goal from the four with 1:00 left in the half and all three timeouts remaining. The coaching staff made great calls here. Knowing they were moving the ball up the middle and having all their timeouts at their disposal they ran three straight times there using their timeouts after two short gains before Smith ran in untouched from the one.
The teams traded punts to start the second half and then the Bills offense went in to high gear as they mixed the pass and run to perfection on a 75 yard drive in 9 plays to Smith's 10 yard touchdown run and a 24-10 lead. The Bills defense then turned up the heat on the Redskins and forced a 3 and out. The offense then promptly turned that into a 64 yard in 9 play drive to a 14 yard touchdown pass from Flutie to Eric Moulds. Again they mixed up the run and pass well as Smith took the majority of the carries on this drive as the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage from the front four of Washington. Moulds return from a hamstring injury was a huge lift to the offense as he caught 5 passes for 61 yards and the score. He made a nice catch inside the five and broke a tackle and showboated into the end zone for the 31-10 lead and the rout was on.
The game was then a matter of ball control as the Redskins defense couldn't stop the Bills running game even though they knew it was coming. The Bills ran the ball a season high 49 times as they held the ball for 41 minutes to keep the offense of Washington off the field. The teams traded punts before the Skins got their offense going again on a quick 90 yard drive in 7 plays to a 19 yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Albert Connell. All hopes for a comback was dashed when Henry Jones recovered the onside kick. The running game moved it downfield to the final points of the game, a Christie 20 yard field goal and a 34-17 final.
Flutie played well, the running game was great as the offensive line had their best game of the year. The defense rose to the occasion after the first drive shutting down the high powered offensive machine of the Redskins. All the controversy about the Bills this week is ended by the fact that the Bills went on a three game road trip and finished 2-1. That doesn't happen much in the NFL when you are on the road for three straight games. The bigger game is next week as the first place dreaded Dolphins come to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
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