Bills force four turnovers and hold on for big win.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 29, 2000
Steve Christie kicked a 34 yard field goal as time expired giving the Bills the dramatic 23-20 win over the Jets. Doug Flutie drove the Bills 66 yards in the final 2:20 to the victory after Jets kicker John Hall tied the game for the third time with a 36 yard field goal. The Big play on the final drive was a 27 yard completion to Peerless Price on third and 10. Sammy Morris is definitely the number one back as he made three solid plays which helped move the ball from the Jets 40 to the 17 yard line setting up the winning kick.
The Offense wouldn't have been in position to win it if Sam Cowart didn't make his third big play of the game minutes earlier. The Jets came back from a 10 point halftime deficit and were in position to drive for the win. A 3rd and 1 screen pass to Richie Anderson was snuffed out beautifully by Cowart, forcing a 4 yard loss. That setup a game tying field goal.
The Jets came out flat as expected after their dramatic comeback win on Monday night. The Bills forced three first half turnover and four in the game, which turned out to be the defining stat in the victory as the other statistics, were very even. The biggest of the turnovers was when Henry Jones picked off a Vinny Testerverde pass and returned it 45 yards for the first defensive touchdown of the year for the Bills. That gave the Bills the 17-7 lead that held up until halftime because of the first of two Cowart fumble recovers inside the Bills 10 yard line just before halftime.
The Jets offense had trouble getting on track in the first quarter leaving the Bills with good field position on their second possession. They drove 56 yards to a Morris one yard plunge and a 7-0 lead. A 28 yard pass to Jeremy McDaniel and a 22 yarder to Eric Moulds, who went over 100 yards for the third straight game, highlighted the drive.
The Jets woke up on their next possession and went right down the field 67 yards to a touchdown pass of 12 yards to tight end Fred Baxter who was wide open. That was a theme on the day by the Bills secondary who gave up chunks of yards in the last three quarters of play. Testerverde narrowly missed being the first 300 yard passer against the Bills since early in 1998. He finished with 293 yards but found receivers open all day over the middle. The big play on the tying touchdown drive was a nice 24 yard catch by Wayne Chrebet.
The Bills regained the lead on the first of three Jets turnovers as Keion Carpenter picked off a pass and returned it into Jets territory. A Marcellus Wiley unsportsmanlike penalty call pushed the Ball back in Buffalo territory. It was one of many big penalties that the Bills made. The Bills moved down field however highlighted by a 21 yard pass to Moulds on third and 10 and a 13 yard reception by the returning Jay Riemersma at the Jets 3 yard line. The drive stalled and Christie connected on a short 20 yard field goal giving the Bills the 10-7 lead. Jones and Cowart's defensive heroics followed giving the Bills the 10 point halftime lead.
Nobody in the sold out stadium was that confident however, knowing how the Bills have played in the fourth quarter. Combine that with the Jets second half heroics and nobody was surprised that the Jets came back. The Bills moved the second half kickoff downfield behind a 28 yard completion by Moulds. The first big play of the second half went against the Bills. They decided to go for it on 4th and 3 and the Jets 32 instead of kicking a 50 yard field goal into a stiff wind. The pass play was batted down. One of four passes that Flutie had batted down. The Jets used the momentum from the big defensive stand and completed two third down conversions before Curtis Martin was stuffed on third and one as Ken Irvin came up with a big tackle. The Jets were forced to settle for a 40 yard Hall field goal to pull them within 7 points at 17-10.
The momentum had swung. The Jets didn't put it in the end zone but they were gaining confidence. The defense stuffed the Bills to a three and out but got a great punt into the wind leaving the Jets with the ball at their own 7. Testerverde would march the Jets 93 yards to a 10 yard touchdown pass to a very wide open Wayne Chrebet to tie the game. The drive was setup by rookie Laveranues Coles' 62 yard pass and run beating Irvin and Carpenter. Antoine Winfield showed his speed catching him from behind temporarily saving a touchdown.
The Bills started a ball control drive that reminded fans of last week's Vikings game. The drive was kept alive by a very "Flutie-esque" scramble for 11 yards on 3rd and 3 that was a highlight run. Later in the drive Morris converted a 4th and inches for a first down but later in the drive a 3rd and 1 pass was knocked down. That setup a 44 yard field goal attempt by Christie that was blocked by Shane Burton. He is the same player that blocked Christie's last miss during week 3.
The Jets now had all the momentum and started marching down the field to gain the lead. It appeared that Martin was finally starting to run the ball and the Jets were beginning to control the line of scrimmage. That is when Cowart made one of his three big plays. Keith Newman closed a big hole and forced a Martin fumble that Cowart recovered. The offense responded as Flutie hit Moulds on a 52 yard bomb that was thrown perfectly over two defenders. Moulds was down inside the one. He then made a beautiful catch for an apparent touchdown. The referees ruled he pushed off and called a 10 yard penalty against the Bills. That backed the ball up and the Bills didn't get close to scoring a touchdown again. Christie would squeak a 29 yard field goal just past the left upright giving the Bills the 20-17 lead.
That left many uneasy as the Bills really should've come away with seven point there. They were having success running the football in short yardage situation and should have had Morris leap over the top in that situation. The Jets took the momentum back by holding the Bills to the three points and the offense responded. Coles continued his breakout game by catching passes of 19, 21, and 14 yards on the last Jets possession. That set the stage for the final big play by Cowart. He would snuffed out the screen pass to Anderson two plays after being beaten by the same screen to get the Jets closer to the end zone.
Flutie took the field after the tying field goal with 2:20 to go and two timeouts. He showed his poise and confidence as he methodically moved the ball down the field to the winning score. Flutie said in the post game press conference that the first first down on those drives is the most important and he got that in a hurry with a 9 yard pass to Shawn Bryson followed by Bryson's 7 yard carry. After Price caught his big 17 yard reception, Morris caught two passes for 18 yards including a nice grab while going down. He also had a nice 5 yard run to set up the winning kick.
This was a big win at home against a first place club. It may go a long way in showing that the Bills can win the close games and give them confidence heading in to the only soft spot on the schedule as they travel to New England next week and host Chicago the following week. There are some things to work on as the pass defense was atrocious for parts of the game but the defense did show some big play ability in the game. On offense, it looks like they have some identity in the running game as Morris has emerged as the number one back. This is definitely a win to celebrate and build on going in to the second half of the season.
Player Of The Week
NFL.com Gamebook - Complete stats including play by play (requires Acrobat Reader)
Jets Game Preview
2000 Gameday Section
2001 Gameday Section
Back to Bills Daily main page
2000 Articles Index