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Bills Get First Win 13-10
Jake Arians late 46 yard field goal lifts Bills.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 19, 2001

Jake AriansJake Arians went from goat to hero when his 46 yard field goal attempt with just over a minute left split the uprights to give the Bills a 13-10 upset win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Thursday night. Arians had missed two field goals in a first half dominated by Buffalo reminiscent of the opening first half of the season against New Orleans.

The Bills defense played superbly against the high powered Jaguars offense and held them to 69 yards in the first half. The Jaguars started off with three straight three and outs. They moved the ball into scoring range only once in the first thirty minutes and Ken Irvin made a great interception to keep the Jaguars off the scoreboard in the first half. Irvin played well despite losing his starting job to rookie Nate Clements who drew the tough assignment of Jimmy Smith in his first career start. Clements shutdown Smith for most of the game as the secondary played a stellar game.

The Bills offense moved the ball very well through the air behind a solid effort by Rob Johnson as he threw for 160 yards in the opening half but couldn't get the ball into the end zone. Arians did hit a 30 yard field goal two plays after Johnson overthrew a wide open Jay Riemersma in the end zone. Missed opportunities left the Bills with just a 3-0 lead at the half.

It seemed like the failure to score in the first half would catch up to the Bills when Mark Brunell took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched the Jaguars down the field to a 20 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Brady to give the Jaguars the lead at 7-3. The 76 yard drive in 5 plays was spearheaded by Stacy Mack's 29 yard run and Jimmy Smith's biggest catch of the day for 22 yards. The scoring play came when Brunell showed some of his old mobility by avoiding the pass rush, that would record three sacks in the game, and finding Brady open in the end zone as Keith Newman lost him in coverage. This game was really looking like the season opening loss to the Saints as the Bills had dominated but in one series the Jaguars got more yards than they did in the entire first half.

The Bills however were hungry for their first win and answered the challenge on their next possession. Avion Black gave them good field position with a nice kickoff return and Johnson would march the offense 63 yards in 9 plays for the go ahead score. He hit Eric Moulds wide open in the end zone for a 27 yard touchdown pass on a third down and seven play. Travis Henry would get tough yards all game long and this drive was a microcosm of his day. He carried it five times for 18 yards that would open up the opportunity for the downfield score that would give the team a 10-7 lead.

Jacksonville continued their second half resurgence by driving down field 63 yards taking almost 8 minutes of the third quarter but they came away with no points. The Bills finally had a bounce go their way as a chip shot field goal attempt went through the hands of the holder Chris Hanson. That not only kept the Jaguars from tying it but it set the Bills up in good field position. Like the first half the Bills moved the ball but couldn't score.

The two teams would trade possessions for much of the fourth quarter before the Jaguars started winning the field position game thanks to a 28 yard run by Mack. The Jaguars were forced to punt near midfield and a great bounce put the Bills at their own four yard line. The offense got very conservative as three Henry runs lost three yards and he was nearly stopped for a safety twice. Punting from the edge of the end zone Brian Moorman shanked one and it went only 28 yards setting the Jaguars up at the Bills 29 yard line. The defense would hold once again and force Mike Hollis to tie the game with a 41 yard field goal after three plays netted only 6 yards.

That gave Johnson and the efficient Bills offense 3:54 and three timeouts to drive for the winning points. Johnson than turned to Larry Centers who would touch the ball five times on the 10 play winning drive. The biggest play was a four yard catch on 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 42 to keep the drive going. It ended when Moulds caught a wide receiver screen on 3rd and 5 and gained only 4 1/2 yards. Coach Williams showed faith in his young kicker and let him kick the game winning 46 yard field goal instead of going for the foot needed for the first down.

Williams tried to stop his team from celebrating too much when Arians kick gave the team the 13-10 lead. There was still 1:03 left and with the high powered offense of the Jaguars they still had a chance. This day however was for the Buffalo D as the secondary especially played outstanding and they put the final nail in the coffin when Travares Tillman picked off a tipped pass ending the final threat.

Obviously since this was the first win of the season there will be many more gameballs then goats. It is a pleasure to write about a Bills win and give the kudos to the players who richly deserve it for a great effort on the road in front of a national television audience. Here are the gameballs and goats:

  • Rob Johnson - Great statistics, 23 of 30 for 238 yards. He was in complete command in this game and seemed confident in leading the Bills on the game winning drive.
  • Larry Centers - Again led the team with 7 receptions and was the man carrying the football on the final drive with success. He is the definite go to guy in this offense.
  • Jake Arians - He missed two field goals in the first half of 41 and 39 yards and was destined for the goat column. He landed with a gameball because he hit the biggest pressure kick of his life, the longest field goal of the day was good for the game winner. He also hit a 30 yarder.
  • Nate Clements - Got his first NFL start and blanketed star WR Jimmy Smith all day long holding him to just 49 yards on 6 receptions. The one pass interference penalty on him was an absolute horrendous call, it should have been called on Smith.
  • Pat Williams - Led an inspired effort by a banged up defensive line as he had a sack along with his team leading five tackles.
  • Ken Irvin - Lost his starting job but played very well including a great interception late in the first half stopping a Jaguars scoring drive.
  • Gregg Williams - Deserved the gameball for his first career win. Had the team ready to play and the game plan was executed very well with solid technique.

  • Goats
  • Peerless Price - Caught one pass for nine yards on the second play from scrimmage and wasn't heard from again.
  • Erik Flowers - He did have a sack but was not involved again against a very banged up offensive line.

  • Player Of The Week
  • Rob Johnson - May have been his best game as a Bill. He completed 77% of his passes and was in total command of the game.

  • Positional Breakdown and Grades Gamebook - Complete stats including play by play (requires Acrobat Reader)
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