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Johnson Leads Bills to 31-6 Rout
New look offense under Johnson and stifling defense gives Bills impressive win.
by Steve Saslow
Jan 2, 2000
This game meant more to the Colts than the Bills going in to it. In the end it really didn't matter at all in the playoff seedings. On the field the Bills were very impressive rolling up a 31-6 victory behind the spectacular play of Rob Johnson. They had only three first half possessions and cashed in with three touchdowns to open up a big lead and they never looked back. The Bills go in to the playoffs on a three game winning streak and on as good as roll as anybody in the conference with the possible exception of next week's playoff opponent Tennessee.
The Colts fumbled the opening kickoff but recovered it and marched down the field before the drive stalled inside of the 10 yard line. Vanderjagt kicked the chip shot to give the Colts an early 3-0 lead, which would be the last time the Colts were really in the game. The Bills took the field offensively and Johnson directed an 83 yard drive in 7 plays to a 21 yard touchdown run by Antowain Smith. His return to the lineup was successful but short lived as he left the game with a concussion after that score. The key play on the drive was a perfect 35 yard pass to Kevin Williams on a 3rd and 1 play to set up the score.
On the Bills next possession Johnson went deep again hitting Eric Moulds for 42 yards to set up a "Flutie-like" 23 yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price. Johnson scrambled and threw a strike on the run, which Price made a magnificent diving catch while keeping his body in bounds. The official right there ruled incomplete but Phillips won the coach's challenge and the Bills were on their way with a 14-3 lead. The Colts responded with a long 70 yard drive in 14 plays to get in to scoring position. The Bills defense held and surprisingly the Colts settled for a field goal on a 4th and short inside of the 10 yard line. That would be the last points the Colts would get. They were held without a touchdown for the only time this year as the Bills preserved their number one ranked defense with a tremendous pass rush led by Pat Williams, Bruce Smith, and Marcellus Wiley. They also contained Edgerrin James to 50 yards rushing.
The Bills took their third possession after the field goal and promptly drove right down the field again. This drive was 82 yards in 13 plays to a Jonathan Linton three yard touchdown run outside behind John Fina with 27 seconds left before intermission. Johnson completed five passes on the drive and almost had the score earlier but Moulds couldn't pull in a downfield pass that was slightly overthrown. Johnson hit third string TE Sheldon Jackson with two passes on the drive as he filled in admirably for Sam Gash at fullback. Three drives and three touchdowns in the first half and the game was essentially over. The Bills rolled up 245 yards of offense in the opening half. It was the most efficient half of football by the Bills in a long time and what made it most impressive is the Colts were still playing for a chance at homefield throughout the playoffs at that point in the day.
The second half was more about holding serve and leaving the game without any more injuries. They were successful in both points. The Bills did manage a 44 yard touchdown drive in 8 plays after the Colts punted from the shadow of their own end zone in the third quarter. Johnson finished off the drive with a one yard toss to Bobby Collins to extend the lead to 28-6 early in the fourth quarter.
All that was left was for Andre Reed to get his milestones on what was most likely his final game in Buffalo. Johnson hit him with dump passes on back to back plays on the Bills next possession to reach both goals. Reed is now in second place in receptions on the all time list and fourth place in receiving yards. He then left the game in an emotional scene that was filled with hugs and tears and a huge ovation from the crowd.
The Bills would tack on a field goal as Johnson continued to throw the Ball late in the game despite the rout. The Colts may remember that if the two teams paths cross in the post season. After Reed got his milestone it was time for Moulds to get his second straight 1,000 yard season. Johnson tried to get him to that goal on the final field goal drive but fell six yards short. The only second guessing in this game is that Moulds and maybe even Johnson should of come out of the game in the fourth quarter but both players played until the end.
So it's on to the playoffs for the Bills. They go in with a lot of momentum, unfortunately their opponent is also red hot as the Tennessee Titans are undefeated at home this year. This will be a hard fought battle between the two hottest teams in the AFC playoffs. It's unfortunate that one of these teams will lose next week while Miami or Seattle will advance. Those two teams are the coldest in the AFC playoffs.
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