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.
Flutie was at his best, directing with complete command of the field. If this was going to be his last game with the Bills, he wanted it to be something the Bills fans would remember.
Power surge in Seattle
They have been having power shortages on the West Coast lately. The Bills supplied enough electricity to power all of Seattle for the remainder of the year.
The Bills scored first when Shawn Bryson received an 11-yard pass from Flutie, capping a 88-yard drive in 7 plays.
Price caught an 18-yard pass for a score, putting the icing on a 9-play 84 yard drive which included passes of 17 yards to Riemersma, 13 yards to McDaniel and 27 yards to Moulds.
Charlie Rogers proved that the Bills special teams are not ready for prime time when he took the kickoff 81 yards for the touchdown. From then on, Bills kicker Steve Christie was instructed to squib the remainder of his kicks, giving the Seahawks the ball at midfield after every kickoff.
When the Bills got the ball back, Flutie directed the Bills down the field again, mainly on a 48 yard completion to Moulds. Smith scored his first of 3 touchdowns when he plowed 9 yards for the score, putting the Bills up 21-7. After Jon Kitna scored for Seattle from one yard out, Riemersma caught a 6 yard pass from Flutie to keep the Bills 3 touchdowns in front.
Smith scored the Bills next two touchdowns, from 2 and 4 yards out, slipping between the two Seahawk scores.
Did Wade save his job?
The Bills rose to the occasion and thrashed the Seahawks. During a week of turmoil that saw the firing of Bills GM John Butler, the players went on the field determined to make a statement in support of their often criticized head coach Wade Phillips.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson would not make a comment about Phillips future withe the Buffalo Bills following the Bills blowout win over Seattle.
"I'd rather just sit with this game for a few hours,"said Wilson.
However, it is unlikely that Wilson will chop Wade's head quickly and the big win may have just saved his job if Wilson's joy over the Bills performance is any indication.
"We really had a good season," commented Wilson. "We had hills and valleys as every team does. And for the team to come back and play like this with half the regulars out was really gratifying."
Statement game by Bills Bubble Boys
Not only did Flutie go out with a bang, but quite a few other players who may be on the bubble made huge statements in this game. Antowain Smith, who was held out for most of the season and was disappointing when he did play, had his best game of the season against the Seahawks. Smith looked like O.J. Simpson as he racked up a career-best 147 yards on 17 romps for 3 scores. He would have had 4 touchdowns had the ball not been stripped from him on his longest run of the game, a 59-yard gallop. Seahawk corner Paul Miranda came up from behind Smith as he was just about to score the touchdown and hit the ball out of Smith's grasp, sending the ball out of bounds in the endzone for a touchback. Smith became the first Bills runner to crack the century mark all season.
With Sammy Morris and Shawn Bryson to be locks on the running back position next season, Smith may be the odd man out.
"Those issues still remain," Smith said about the log jam at running back. "It's been an up-and-down season for me and a frustrating season for me. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity that presented itself. I just wanted to show people that I'm still Antowain Smith and I can still do the job if I get the opportunity. It would be nice if it happened here, but if not, maybe that opportunity will happen for me somewhere else."
Peerless Price was another player to make a loud statement to the Bills coaching staff, or future coaching staff if Wilson makes a change. Price made several spectacular grabs and had his best game ever as he caught 8 for 132 yards.
While Bills owner Wilson would not comment on the current status of the coaching staff, he was elated about the win.
"It was a very big win," said a smiling Bills owner. "I'm nervous in these games until the final gun. For the team to come back and play like this with half the regulars out."
What qualifications in a GM is Wilson looking for?
"I'm looking for someone to run the football operation – to run the whole show," Wilson said "We'll get things straightened out."
"I'm going to start this week," Wilson said about the General Manager search "I'm going to get things squared away."
The top candidate seems to be former Pittsburgh General Manger Tom Donohoe. But Wilson is known to prefer going within the organization, which would give Dwight Adams or A.J. Smith a big opportunity to advance their career. Another candidate outside the organization is Phil Savage, who is the current Director of Scouting for the Baltimore Ravens.
Wilson had traveled with the team to Seattle to oversee the turmoil that has existed all season, especially the quarterback controversy which seems to have torn the team apart. Both Rob Johnson and Flutie have not seen eye-to-eye all season and both have indicated they are not happy with the current QB situation.
Flutie was quick to throw a dart at the media after the game.
"You guys read way too much into football," Flutie said. "We go out and play football as hard as we can every week. It doesn't matter if it's preseason, if it's postseason, if it's in the back yard. You go out and play your tail off."
"I felt real confident that we were going to make plays," Flutie said. "I wanted to air it out. I wanted to put the ball up and down the field tonight, let Eric and Peerless make some plays. I wanted to push the corners, push the coverage off. I felt real confident in what I was seeing and what was going on out there."
"Doug played a tremendous game, Phillips said."
"Flutie's great," Price elated. "He's an offensive wizard. He knows all, he sees all. He's just a great competitor."
Price who had been criticized for his play most of the season, came out with his best game ever. The trash talking by Seahawk Willie Williams may have backfired for the defensive back.
"That got me into the game more," Price admitted. "I haven't felt like I had been in the flow of the game in a while. But the last three or four games, I felt like I've been in the flow. Then when (Willie Williams) started trash talking, it got me motivated to go out there and kick his butt."
Antowain Smith may have also played his last game as a Bill, wanted to make the final game of the season one that people would remember.
"It was just another opportunity to go out and make the best of it,"Smith related. "You're playing in front of the world on ESPN, and you want to be at your best. The offensive line did a great job and the receivers did a good job of blocking down field. Then it was up to me to make one man miss or break a tackle and see how many yards I could get."
Copyright © 2000 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.
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