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Total Meltdown in 20-14 Loss
Offense and Defense Struggle Badly As Raiders Dominate.
by Steve Saslow
Oct. 19, 1999
Things don't get much worse than they did on the turf at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday. The Bills were totally dominated on both sides of the ball against a well-coached and well prepared Raider team. To add injury to insult there nearly injury free season came to a crashing halt as three important starters were lost for next week's tough, important game in Seattle. With John Holecek out with a sprained knee the Bills number one run defense were blown off the line by a Raiders Offensive line that started a rookie opposite Bruce Smith.
The Raiders rushed for nearly 200 yards and their domination was felt from the outset, after Doug Flutie threw an interception on the first play of the game the Raiders ran the ball up the Bills gut for 31 yards on 6 plays all on the ground to the first score. The Bills answered with a touchdown of their own on Antowain Smith's 52 yard run for a score. Amazingly enough, he only would touch the ball three more time the entire game! Jonathan Linton would only carry the ball five times himself and he didn't touch the ball until the second half. The Bills completely abandoned the running game and went to the same aerial attack they did on opening day, it didn't work then and it didn't work Sunday. The running game was showing signs of life and shockingly the club did not challenge the Raiders defense that was putting 8 men in the box and daring the Bills to throw.
Well throw they did, and they did it poorly. When Flutie wasn't throwing interceptions he was throwing poor passes and not seeing receivers that were wide open. The Bills went with multiple receiver sets most of the way and Flutie stayed in the pocket with three step drops much of the time. He seemed to have problems seeing open receivers downfield. He was also the victim of a couple of untimely dropped passes. The two biggest drops were Eric Moulds dropping a pass after he had beaten cornerback Eric Turner down the sideline. If he caught the ball it could have set up the winning score but he pulled his hamstring and dropped the ball. Another "drop" was Peerless Price not hauling in a Flutie pass on the second to last play of the game at the goal line. It would've been the winning score in a game the club has no business being in. The truth about the pass was it was a bit overthrown, but if that was Andre Reed or a healthy Moulds we could be talking about a lucky, miracle Bills victory.
The dominating running game of the Raiders led by Tyrone Wheatley led to two Michael Husted field goals to give the Raiders a 13-7 halftime lead that could've been worse. The Raiders added to their lead with nine play, 72 yard drive to start the second half that epitomized their dominance of the game. The Bills had a chance to get close late in the third quarter but Flutie overthrew a wide open Moulds near the goal line, after a trade of punts the Bills were able to take advantage of good field position to drive the 49 yards to Moulds' touchdown to close the gap within 4.
The Bills defense needed to make a stand but were unable to stop the Raiders before it was almost too late. They marched downfield running the ball through the heart of the defense and getting help from a costly pass interference call on third down on Henry Jones to run the clock down before Husted missed what would've been a game sealing 32 yard field goal.
With one more chance, Flutie tried to pull his magic by methodically marching the Bills downfield without any timeouts and less than a minute to go. He hit Price with a 30 yard completion over the middle on fourth down to keep the dream alive. He couldn't get any closer than the 24 as his interception on the final play sealed the Bills fate. A last second miracle win would have been awesome but the bottom line is they had no business even having a prayer to win this game. They were dominated on both sides of the ball and their gameplans seem confused as the Raiders were always a step ahead. There is much work to do before meeting Seattle next week in a big game that will be played without Moulds, Holecek, and Ruben Brown.
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