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Chargers Win Thriller 27-24
Flutie magic and Arians miss gives Chargers the victory.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 28, 2001

Rob JohnsonJake Arians had his 44 yard field goal block as time expired giving the San Diego Chargers a 27-24 win over the Bills. It was a thrilling game that live up to it's hype as both teams traded blows in the fourth quarter until the rookie kicker missed the final shot giving the upstart Chargers the win.

Doug Flutie showed the old "Flutie Magic" by breaking the sack attempt of Shawn Price and scampering 13 yards for the winning score. That was just moments after Travis Henry gave the Bills the lead for the first time in the game with a three yard plunge in a wild fourth quarter.

Nobody wanted to lose this grudge match that didn't disappoint as Flutie came out of the gates hot and led the Chargers to a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. A Wade Richey field goal on the Chargers opening drive was followed by a one yard scoring pass from Flutie to Freddie Jones on their second possession. That score was setup by a pass interference call in the end zone on Ken Irvin on third and goal. Two plays later Rob Johnson was sacked by Marcellus Wiley and fumbled the ball away to the Chargers setting up another field goal after the Bills held on first and goal from the seven.

The Bills settled down and Rob Johnson began to heat up as the second quarter progressed. He led them on a five play scoring drive that he finished himself with a one yard plunge. He followed that up with a 11 play drive before halftime that ended with an Arians 41 yard field goal pulling the Bills to within three at 13-10.

The second half picked up where the first half left off as Johnson began managing drives like he did last week in Jacksonville. He took the second half kickoff and moved the team into field goal range before leaving with a painful injury. Alex Van Pelt completed two passes but didn't gain a first down and Arians than missed a 45 yard field goal to thwart the Bills opening drive in the third quarter.

The two teams went back and forth the rest of the quarter as the defenses dominated. Johnson would go to the locker room but return to the game on the Bills next series. The fireworks started in the thrilling fourth quarter that would see both teams score two touchdowns and miss a field goal apiece. It started when Johnson would make his only big mistake of the game as he grossly under threw Eric Moulds under pressure and had the pass picked off and returned 37 yards for a score giving the Chargers a 10 point lead with just over 10 minutes to go.

Johnson would not go down easily on this day though. He connected with Peerless Price for a 61 yard score on the next play from scrimmage getting the touchdown right back. Flutie wasn't going to be outdone however, as he moved the team downfield only to have Richey miss his second kick of the game.

Johnson would then move the Bills on a methodical 68 yard scoring drive in 12 plays to Henry's go ahead score. It appeared Johnson may finally have had some good luck against his nemesis as the Big play on the drive was a 31 yard pass to Moulds that bounced off a defender into Moulds hands for a big first down.

The problem was that the score gave the Chargers 1:30 to drive down for the winning score. They would only need two plays thanks to a kickoff return that would remind fans of last year's special teams and the Tennessee playoff game two seasons ago. Ronney Jenkins would return the kick 72 yards and tack on an extra 13 thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on punter Brian Moorman who made the tackle. That setup some Flutie magic that Bills fans got so used to seeing on their side of the field over the last three years. Flutie dodged the sack and went straight up the middle for the score giving the Chargers the lead at 27-24.

Johnson would show courage and how badly he wanted this game as he would not give up. The Bills had 1:10 left and no timeouts but took over at their own 36 after another nice kickoff return from Nate Clements. He setup the Price score with a good return earlier in the quarter. The battered Johnson would scamper for 18 of his team high 67 yards rushing on the next two plays. He would then hit Jay Riemersma on a 25 yard pass over the middle to put the Bills in field goal range. Riemersma made a great catch in traffic and was hurt on the play. He couldn't get off the field and that cost the Bills 10 seconds. With :14 left after a spike the Bills decided to try the ill fated 44 yard attempt that was blocked.

If the Bills were a bit more aggressive they could've tried to get it closer with an out pattern but the missed kick may cost Arians his job as he is now 3 for 7 in his last two games. It was a thrilling game that had it all. Both kickers were awful missing two field goals apiece. The quarterbacks were outstanding as both Johnson and Flutie played magnificently. The old Flutie magic lifted the Chargers to victory. Johnson however played a great game in defeat and showed that he may just be the quarterback of the future for the Bills. Here are the gameballs and goats:

  • Rob Johnson - Even though they lost, showed why the Bills kept him with 377 yards in total offense. He did everything possible to win.
  • Peerless Price - Had an excellent game with a team high 8 catches for 151 yards and a nice catch and run for a score. He even averaged 14 yards on two punt returns.
  • Nate Clements - Played well on defense with six tackles and averaged 24.2 yards on kick returns including two nice returns in the fourth quarter that setup scoring opportunities.
  • Bryce Fisher - He had the lone sack that was almost a safety.

  • Goats
  • Jake Arians - He was 1 for 3 today and this time he didn't redeem himself. His 44 yard attempt to tie was kicked too low. He may be looking for a new job this week.
  • Gregg Williams - He made a terrible use of instant replay challenging a pass to Price that was clearly down inside the one. Should've tried to get it closer on the final field goal drive.

  • Player Of The Week
  • Rob Johnson - He proved he can play with Flutie. He threw for a career second best 310 yards and ran for 67 more going 24 for 37.

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