Complete embarrassment. How else could you describe the 44-20 thrashing the Indianapolis Colts gave the Buffalo Bills in front of a national MNF audience.
As much as the loss to the Miami Dolphins was a horrendous exhibition by the Bills, this one was even worse. Rob Johnson had his worst game as a professional against the Dolphins...until the disastrous performance against the Colts.
Eight sacks! No matter how pitiful one's offensive line is, a quarterback should not get dumped 8 times in a game. Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture.
Second half collapse
The game was like night and day. The first half was a defensive struggle and turned into a field goal kicking competition between Bills kicker Steve Christie and Mike Vanderjagt. Christie kicked field goals of 29 and 46 yards, while Vanderjagt was good on kicks from 37, 23 and 39.
In the second half, the bottom fell out for the Buffalo Bills. It all started when Chris Mohr attempted to punt while deep in his territory. For some reason, Mohr hesitated before punting, taking an extra step before putting his foot to the ball. Indy's Paul Shields was able to get in and push a Bills lineman into the path of the ball. It went off his back and the Colts recovered at the Bills 25. It was the beginning of the end of the Bills 2000 season. At the time, the Colts were up by 9-6. Edgerrin James proceeded to score from 1 yard to put the Colts up by 10.
"We didn't have a block called at that time. We had a return called,"said Colts coach Jim Mora. "He just took a long time to get the kick off."
The next big mistake by the Bills ended their season. Remember Jeff Burris? He came back to haunt the Bills and ruin any playoff hopes they may have had. With Johnson already having been sacked 5 times, the question was how long was Phillips going to keep him in the line of fire. On third-and-two from the Indy 45, Burris blitzed in from the right side and Johnson didn't even notice him. Burris hit Johnson and hit his arm, forcing the ball out. Bernard Holsey scooped up the look ball and galloped al the way for the score. Colts 23 Bills 6. Two bad mistakes and the season was history.
"Anytime you see a defensive player running with the ball, it's a great feeling on offense," said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. "When the defense scores, it's a huge lift for the whole team."
The Bills, however, were not done embarrassing themselves in prime time. Johnson finally was able to engineer a scoring drive as he threw a 20-yard pass to Jeremy McDaniel, a 34-yard pass to Eric Moulds to Indianapolis 20, and a 19-yard pass to Shawn Bryson at the Colts 1. That set up Sammy Morris' 1-yard leap into a pile of bodies to get the Bills somewhat in the game again. Then the blunders started again. They couldn't even get the PAT straight as the snap was bobbled.
Johnson, who was sacked a grand total of 5 times in the third quarter by a team that had recorded just six sacks in its previous five games, then committed another gaff. He threw his second interception of the game to Mustafah Muhammad, who returned it 40 yards for another touchdown. That was it for Johnson, who completed only 12 of 22 passes for 188 yards. If the past two games are an indication of how Johnson will fare as the Bills quarterback of the future, then the future is indeed bleak for the Bills.
Doug Flutie entered the game and was a little more effective than Johnson. He led the Bills on a 10-play, 67-yard drive that was capped off by a 29-yard Flutie pass to Peerless Price over the middle for a touchdown. Flutie finished the game completing 6 out12 for 82 yards and the one touchdown. He also was sacked once, giving the Colts an unbelievable 9 sacks for the game.
Oh yes, the Colts had one more touchdown in them. After a 30-yard Wilkins punt return, Edgerrin James romped 13 yards for a touchdown.
The past two games the Bills have lost by a combined total score of 51 points. That was the worst two straight games since back in 1985 when they lost by a combined 53 points to San Diego and the New York Jets.
Wade throws in the towel
Before the game even began, Bills head coach Wade Phillips had thrown in the white flag. He was asked on ESPN about the Bills chances of making the playoffs.
"I think both teams are out of it basically," Phillips told ESPN before the game even started. "But, it's a Monday night game, everybody is watching."
When asked if he took a similar approach to the game, Colts head coach Jim Mora said, "I don't think that. I don't take that approach. Heck no. Are we done? Emphatically no - we're not done."
Two different approaches coming into the game and two drastically different efforts given by the two teams. The Colts put out in a last ditch effort to secure the final wildcard spot, the Bills, led by their defeatist head coach, waived the white flag when they took the field.
The Bills should have done themselves a favor and not bothered even showing up. A out-right forfeit would not have as hard to swallow as their effortless exhibition before a national audience. Phillips, who never was known as a great inspirational leader, has almost gone out of his way to discourage his team the past two weeks. Last week, he made a futile attempt to give the Bills a halftime pep talk when they needed it the most against the Dolphins. This week he throws in the towel on national TV before the opening kickoff.
This is the same head coach that Bills owner Ralph Wilson gave a vote of confidence over the weekend.
"I think Wade has done a very good job," Wilson said last week. "He has made the playoffs the first two years he was head coach. I think maybe for some people, if you don't make the playoffs every year, then you fire the coach. Ha. Well, I don't feel that way. I think he's done a very good job, particularly with all the players we lost in the offseason."
"I haven't seen ‘em lay down. They've played hard for him ever since he's been the head coach."
After the MNF debacle, Wilson may be regretting having said the Bills were not laying down. They were not only laying down against the Colts, but they were digging 6-foot holes and burying themselves alive.
Ralph Wilson had a little talk with his team before the game.
Wilson was reported to have said the following:
"All I ask of you is that you all:
1- play hard
2- play your best and
3- win or lose, show the entire country what the Buffalo Bills are all about."
The players got one out of three of Wilsons right, they showed the world what the Buffalo Bills are made of - a bumbling, stumbling, fumbling team.
"We just showed everybody that we didn't have the character to stand up to a Colts team who still I don't how we got blown out," said Marcellus Wiley. "Twenty something points is just ridiculous. It's frustrating. Embarrassed. The true definition, whatever Webster said embarrassed is, it happened."
"It's a job, and if you can't do the math, you can't register things and just do your job you will get fired," Wiley continued. "That's from me on down on up. I'm one of the cheaper guys, but if you're making 5 million of 500 thousand we all get the same axe. It's a blessing to be in the league and if you don't show up especially in these times... This is a test of your character. Everybody can ride on the wagon when it's going full steam ahead. Right now I'm sure Mr. Wilson and Mr. Butler are examining our hearts."
Johnson is not getting better with experience. In fact, his confidence seems to have taken a serious hit these past two games.
"I got a little impatient," Johnson said about the two picks against him. "I tried to make some plays. I got frustrated and I made some bad decisions."
No matter how ugly it got out there and how bad of a beating he was taking, Johnson did not want to come out of the game.
"As if I were the only guy screwing up out there," he said. "It gets frustrating when you're not able to get Eric (Moulds) the ball. My first interception I was forcing the ball, just trying to get the ball to Eric and it's stupid by me, but your best player can't get the ball in the first half that's terrible. You've got to find a way to get him the ball."
"For myself I'd like to get out of this little funk that I'm in," Johnson admitted. "It's been a bad two game stretch for me. Personally I'd like to play better."
Phillips must have been rehearsing his post game speech all last week. He had been forecasting gloom right up to game time.
"You get the blocked punt, where the punter missed the ball, then they return the fumble for a touchdown," contended Phillips. "That knocked us right out of the ballgame pretty quick. We fought them the first half and were only three points behind and suddenly we're down 17 points in a couple of minutes."
Phil Hansen is emerging as the veteran leader on this team. He is upset that many players haven't shown up for the past two games and he's letting his feelings be known to all.
"Everybody needs to do their part and everybody needs to not be the weak link in the success of this team," Hansen said. "You're only as strong as your weakest link. And we had some guys who didn't play up to the standard today that you're used to for Buffalo Bills football. And for what reason I don't know, but it's going to be corrected. We've addressed it already and the true character of a lot of guys will come out. If guys aren't coming back to play these next two weeks, if it's too cold, if you're packing for the offseason, go to wherever you're going right now. Don't wait for the offseason and don't come back. That's the way I feel about it."
Copyright © 2000 Bills Thunder & Rick Anderson, all rights reserved.
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