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Solid Effort Beats Pats 17-7
Big plays by offense and swarming defense leads to big division win.
by Steve Saslow
Nov. 28, 1999
The Bills 17-7 win over the Patriots was a typical late November hard fought home win. They used the swirling winds of "The Ralph" to their advantage and Doug Flutie made enough big plays to give the defense all they needed to pull off the win. The victory gave the club their landmark 100th win of the 90's. Only six times in the history of the NFL has that happened.
The two teams traded punts to start the game but the Bills started their second possession at the 20 and moved downfield thanks to a pass interference penalty on a bomb from Doug Flutie to Eric Moulds. That call and many others were questionable by the officials and most of them seemed to go the Bills way, which felt like a small payback for what happened in New England last year. On third and goal from the three the Bills tried a Flutie bootleg and it was stopped for a 7 yard loss setting up Steve Christie's 28 yard field goal to give the Bills a 3-0 lead.
The Patriots were definitely moving the ball better in the first half, especially on the ground as Terry Allen found many big holes up the middle where Ted Washington should have been, but he was being handled by rookie center Damien Woody. Despite their statistical dominance they weren't able to score any points. The Pats drove into Buffalo territory after the field goal only to have a pass by Drew Bledsoe severely overthrown and picked off by Ken Irvin. It was the first pick by a starting Bills cornerback all year. The defense was getting to Bledsoe with sacks and pressures all game. Some of the pressure was caused by the rush of the front seven and some coming because of solid coverage by the secondary. Bruce Smith was very active again, especially in the first half getting pressure on Bledsoe.
The Pats used a makeshift fake punt, where punter Lee Johnson ran for a first down to try and run out the clock in the first half. The Bills stiffened and forced them to punt for real with less than two minutes to go in the half. This was enough time for Flutie to make his biggest play of the game. With the Pats rushing five Flutie found Moulds wide open after the defender fell down. Moulds gathered it in and cakewalked into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown to give the Bills a 10-0 lead at the half.
The defense started shutting down the running game in the second half. They continued putting the pressure on Bledsoe as they got 6 sacks and many other pressures. The Patriots went three and out on the first series of the second half and the Bills had all the momentum but gave the Pats a chance to get back into the game. Jonathan Linton fumbled the ball away on the Bills first second half possession and the Pats had it in Buffalo territory. The defense continued its dominance and forced another three and out and giving the Bills the ball at the 20-yard line. The offense fed off the big stop by the defense and Flutie hit back to back big plays giving the Bills the insurmountable 17-0 lead. First Flutie hit rookie TE Bobby Collins on the right sideline and he rumbled 45 yards with it. On the next play Flutie hit Sam Gash on a short pass and Gash broke the tackle of rookie Andy Katzenmoyer and went down the sidelines for the score.
At that point it seemed the defense would give up a prevent touchdown but an impressive drive ended when Kevin Faulk fumbled it away inside the Bills 10 yard line. It started looking like the Bills would get their second shutout of the season but a questionable coaching call gave the Pats a chance to score. On a 4th and 8 inside the Pats 40 late in the game the Bills went for it and were not successful. This gave the Pats great field position and Bledsoe hit Terry Glenn on a bomb for their only points.
It was a great win to go on the bye week with since a loss would have been devastating. Now the Bills can relax and wait to see what the rest of the AFC does next week. The Bills helped their playoff chances and are still in excellent shape to challenge for a higher seed.
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