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Bills Finding the Difference Is Only a Foot

November 06, 2000|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — The clock ticks down, Steve Christie trots on the field and the Buffalo Bills celebrate.

The remarkable has become routine for a kicker whose 32-yard field goal at 4:32 of overtime defeated the New England Patriots, 16-13, Sunday. He also was sure-footed on the rain-soaked field with a 48-yarder that tied the game with four seconds left in regulation.

"It was wet and the balls were getting heavy," Christie said. "I just block everything off, try to hit the ball solid and just don't let things bother me."

The Bills (5-4) have won four games on Christie's field goals in the last minute of regulation or overtime this year. And his 23-yard overtime field goal last season on the same Foxboro Stadium field gave Buffalo a 13-10 win in the next-to-last regular season game and clinched a playoff berth.

"He's an amazing guy under pressure," Buffalo Coach Wade Phillips said.

Coming off a bye week, the Patriots (2-7) lost quarterback Drew Bledsoe to a hand injury in the second quarter, but John Friesz did just enough to put them in position to win. Adam Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal with 2:03 left in regulation gave the Patriots a 13-10 lead.

Doug Flutie, starting his third game for injured Rob Johnson, led the Bills on drives of 46 and 52 yards to Christie's last two field goals. Christie also kicked a 19-yarder that gave Buffalo a 3-0 lead and has connected on 15 of his last 16 attempts.

Buffalo has won three of its last four games on Christie's field goals on the final play.

"I was just being really careful. At the end, we had to take some chances and it paid off," Flutie said. "This team had the confidence going down the wire."

The Patriots continue to fail with the game on the line. For the sixth time this season, they lost when they had a chance to win or tie in the final minutes.

"It seems like every time we get in the fourth quarter, something happens," safety Tebucky Jones said.

It happened to Bledsoe earlier.

The quarterback had played 114 of a possible 120 games before Sunday. But late in the first quarter he jammed his right thumb on linebacker Sam Rogers' helmet and, after one more series, was replaced by Friesz with 9:59 left in the half.

"When I was throwing on the sidelines, my feeling was I wasn't throwing accurately to help the team," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe wouldn't reveal the results of X-rays, and there was no word on his availability for next Sunday's game at Cleveland.

Friesz, playing his second game in two seasons with the Patriots, completed 11 of 21 passes for 66 yards and an interception.

It was a critical win for Buffalo, which remained in fourth place in the AFC East, two games off the lead.

Friesz was booed when he took the field with 13:57 left in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots came through as J.R. Redmond scored on a one-yard run and Vinatieri kicked the tying extra point.

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