Offense shows tremendous firepower in victory.
by Steve Saslow
Dec. 24, 2000
The Bills went across the country for a meaningless game against a team that also had nothing to play for, two days before Christmas and played their best game of the year. A spirited effort for pride and possibly for the head coach's job paid off in a 42-23 rout of the Seahawks. The Offense that had been bottled up most of the season exploded with more points in the first half than they had scored in a game all season.
Two players that were magnificent may have played their last games in Bills uniforms. Doug Flutie gave the new GM something to think about having a perfect passer rating for the game of 158.3 as he threw for a whopping 366 yards and three scores. Flutie of course, is rumored to be a salary cap victim in the off season but he gave owner Ralph Wilson something to think about with what may have been the best single game effort by a quarterback in Bills history. A great performance was also put in by much maligned running back Antowain Smith. He was inserted late in the first quarter when Shawn Bryson left the game with a bruised backside. Smith rushed for a career high 147 yards and three touchdowns. It should have been four scores but on a 57 yard run in the fourth quarter he had the ball knocked out of his hands. He recovered but was out of the end zone for a touchback as the Bills lost another replay challenge. That was the lone negative in his game as Smith was the back the Bills hoped for when they drafted him in the first round of the 1997 draft. He hopes this was a good test on national TV for a job with another team next year. He has one year left on his contract but is also a possible cut for salary cap reasons with the emergence of Bryson and Sammy Morris. The Bills may want to re-think letting either of these players go.
The Offense rolled up 579 yards which was the second most in club history just three yards shy of a club record set in 1991. If Jonathan Linton did not fumble late in the fourth quarter they would have broken that record. The Bills had 10 meaningful possessions (not counting the downing the ball at the end of the game) and made it inside the 10 yard line 8 times scoring six touchdowns while missing a chip shot field goal on another drive. Smith's fumble ended the other trip inside the 10. In what may have been Chris Mohr's last game as a Bill he punted only once.
It was also an impressive day for the wide receivers and the offensive line. Both Peerless Price and Eric Moulds went over 100 yards receiving. Moulds did it on four catches giving him a club record 94 on the season but leaving him shy of his receiving yardage record set in 1998. Price had his second career 100 yard game, ironically his other one came last year against Seattle. Price came on strong at the end of the season as he finished the game with 8 catches for 132 yards and then gave a ringing endorsement to keeping Flutie calling him "an offensive wizard". It was also nice to see the offensive line give the quarterback time to throw and open up huge holes for a running game that amassed 213 yards.
The Bills exploded early scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions giving them a 21-7 lead after the first quarter. The first score was setup by two personal foul penalties on Seattle and a couple of completions to Price including a 33 yarder that he was interfered with. The score was a perfectly executed screen pass to Bryson. On their second possession they went 84 yards in 9 plays to a Price 18 yard touchdown reception to open up a 14-0 lead. Flutie hit four different receivers on the drive. The Bills special teams may have sealed the fate of coach Ronnie Jones in this game as they went up against the best returner they saw all year in Charlie Rogers. His first two returns brought the Ball past the 40, his third return went the distance for the third touchdown return given up by the Bills this year. Rogers averaged a whopping 42.8 yards returning kicks. It got so bad the Bills started squib kicking it in the second half.
Flutie wasn't phased by the minor setback as he took the third possession and promptly hit Moulds on a bomb for 48 yards to setup Smith's 9 yard touchdown run two plays later giving the Bills the 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was the most points scored by the Bills in that quarter since the season finale two years ago against New Orleans.
The Seahawks drove to a Jon Kitna dive from the one to pull the Seahawks back within seven points. They looked like they may actually tie the game before the half but rookie sensation Darrell Jackson coughed up the football at midfield late in the half. That was as close as Seattle would get. Flutie again went for the quick kill as he hit little used Kwame Cavil for 39 yards and then Jay Riemersma on beautiful tight rope touchdown catch to give the Bills the 28-14 halftime lead. It was their second three play touchdown drive of the half. The Bills had the ball five times in the half and scored four touchdowns while their fifth possession ended when Steve Christie hit the upright on a 26 yard field goal attempt.
The Seahawks hit a field goal early in the third quarter but the Bills responded by driving for another Smith touchdown run. Price caught two more passes to start the drive and then they ran the ball seven straight times for 57 yards on the drive that effectively put the game away at 35-17. Smith would fumble it out of the end zone on the next possession and then the Seahawks drove for a meaningless touchdown run by Ricky Watters. The two point conversion attempt failed and then the Bills wrapped up the scoring with a third Smith touchdown run that was setup by two long pass plays to Jeremy McDaniel and Price.
It was nice to see the Bills show character and pride as they finished off a disappointing season on a high note. It was especially nice to see the offense finally explode, too bad it was too little too late. The Bills could have mailed this game in considering the turmoil of the week but they showed they still have some of that resiliency of the glory years. This will be a very interesting off season starting with the hiring of a new GM and the annual meeting with the owner that will take place on Friday. Bills Daily will be with you all off season with the latest news surrounding our favorite team.
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