Johnson's "Flutie-esque" run gives the Bills the victory
by Steve Saslow
Nov. 19, 2000
Rob Johnson showed that he also knows how to win. His over the top dive for a 12 yard touchdown ultimately gave the Bills a huge road win over the Chiefs 21-17. Johnson struggled for much of the second and third quarters before getting hot late, leading the Bills to two fourth quarter touchdowns. The biggest play of the game was Johnson's touchdown run with less than three minutes left to give the Bills the lead. On 3rd and goal from the 12 the pocket collapsed and Johnson took off and ran as he headed for the pylon he leaped in the air and got the ball over the goal line before going out of bounds. The officiating, that was awful all day, messed this call up also. They called him down at the one but the Bills won the replay challenge and the score counted.
The defense then had to hang on for dear life not once, but twice in the final three minutes to preserve the win. The Chiefs quickly moved to the Buffalo 25 when Keion Carpenter came up with his fifth interception of the year to stop the drive. The Offense went a quick three and out as the inability to run the ball at all hampered the offensive gameplan. The Chiefs would have one more chance but were out of timeouts. They connected on a 4th and 19 to setup a hail mary pass that Eric Moulds of all people knocked it down to end the game.
It was fitting that the Bills put Moulds in on defense for the hail mary and that he would make the play. It was a milestone day for Moulds. He would catch a pass for a Bills record 44th straight game and go over 1,000 yards receiving on the year in this game. To top off his game, he caught a 9 yard touchdown pass from Johnson on the game's opening possession. Johnson came out fired up to make a statement, he drove the Bills 71 yards in 10 plays to the Moulds score. The Bills actually ran the ball well gaining 44 of the team's 74 rushing yards on this drive. The running game would go into hibernation after that as Shawn Bryson and Antowain Smith would combine for less than 2 yards a carry as the Bills missed Sammy Morris. As has become customary for the Bills when he is in there, Johnson led the Bills in rushing again with 41 yards including the score and a 20 yard run on the opening touchdown drive.
The defenses would take over after the opening score as the teams would trade punts on the next two possessions each. On the Bills third possession they tried to jump start the offense by making a huge gamble. On 4th and 13 from their own 18 they faked a punt and Chris Mohr hit a wide open Daryl Porter for 44 yards. It was as gutsy a call as a coach could make. Deep in their own territory on the road in a 7-0 game is a huge gamble that paid off. It worked to perfection but unfortunately the Bills couldn't cash in as a questionable holding call on Marcus Spriggs washed out a 38 yard touchdown pass to Jay Riemersma.
Spriggs was playing left tackle on the play for the injured John Fina. He missed a lot of playing time with a knee sprain as did Joe Panos. The banged up and mismatch offensive line did the job down the stretch giving Johnson time to throw during the two late scoring drives. The defense was also banged up as Donovan Greer didn't play and Antoine Winfield watched from street clothes most of the second half.
The undermanned secondary helped allow a 300 yard passer for the first time since early in the 1998 season. Elvis Grbac warmed up in the second quarter as he was hitting all his receivers in the open seams of the Bills defense on his way to 341 yards passing. The Chiefs gained some momentum after stopping the Bills following the fake punt. They moved down the field on the strength of 3 passes to Derrick Alexander totaling 70 yards on the drive. It would stall on the two yard line as the old tackle eligible pass play was sniffed out by Ken Irvin. Todd Peterson hit the chip shot field goal closing the Bills lead to 7-3. The half would end that way thanks to a blocked field goal by Pat Williams on the Chiefs next possession.
The Bills offense bogged down in the third quarter as they couldn't move the ball on four straight possessions. The Chiefs started to heat up offensively and on their second possession of the half they drove for the go ahead touchdown. The 72 yard drive got started on two nice runs by Kimble Anders as the Chiefs were able to run effectively against the Bills in the second half. When the Bills finally started thinking about the run, Grbac beat them through the air. He hit Alexander for two more catches for 35 yards setting up a 13 yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez. The big tight end showed why he is the best at his position scoring both Chief touchdowns.
The Chiefs were playing with more fire in the second half and had the lead and the momentum. While the offense struggled for the Bills the Chiefs were threatening to widen their lead when the defense made a big play. Sam Rogers sacked Grbac at the Buffalo 31 and stripped the ball and Williams recovered ending the scoring threat. Rogers had another huge game getting two sacks and the forced fumble. He is thriving in the nickel defense.
The offense seemed jump started by the play as they went on a 63 yard scoring march in 9 plays. Moulds went over the 1,000 yard mark on this drive with a big third down conversion to keep the drive going. Jeremy McDaniel brought the ball to the 24 of Kansas City with a 14 yard reception. A roughing the passer call gave the Bills a first and goal. A series of penalties pushed the ball back to the 18 yard line. Johnson then hit Riemersma for the touchdown on a pass that was tipped by linebacker Donnie Edwards. Riemersma showed great concentration in bringing the ball in to give the Bills the lead back at 14-10.
The see-saw effort would continue as the Bills banged up defense was figured out by the Chiefs. They answered the Bills scoring drive with a 63 yard drive to Gonzalez's second touchdown of the game. The big play on this drive was the conversion of a 3rd and 20 pass for 27 yards. The Chiefs then pounded out 22 more yards on the next six plays before the touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs 17-14 lead.
The game would see one more lead change as Johnson calmly led the Bills down field for what would be the winning touchdown. The drive was kept alive by another of many controversial calls in this game. Johnson hit Moulds on a 5 yard out pattern on third and 5 that was just enough for a first down. Moulds seemed to bobble it and lose it as he was going down. The Chiefs wanted to challenge it but couldn't because it was a down by contact play. The Chiefs benefited from a similar call on a Gonzalez fumble in the first half. They also benefited from what may have been a Rogers interception in the third quarter. The Bills moved the ball 33 yards on the next two plays as McDaniel caught a 14 yarder and James Hasty was called for a pass interference penalty while covering Moulds. The two players were trash talking and going at it all day. Moulds won the battle with 8 catches for 67 yards including a 10 yarder on third and 10 that was also just enough for a first and goal at the 3 yard line. The Bills again couldn't punch it in on the ground as Smith lost four yards and Johnson was sacked for 5 yards setting up his heroic touchdown run on third and goal from the 12.
The defense made the plays on the final two drives and the Bills had their biggest win of the season. It keeps them in the thick of the playoff race and solidified Johnson's stature as the starting quarterback. The Bills currently have the longest winning streak in the league with victories in their last four games that puts them in a logjam for second place in the AFC East one game behind Miami. Every unit had made their mistakes but they made the big plays when they had to pull out a very tough road win.
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