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Johnson Hurt, Flutie to Rescue

October 16, 2000|From Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In a sloppy, dramatic and intense see-saw battle between two teams desperate for a victory, the Buffalo Bills managed to pull out a 27-24 overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers Sunday.

And it was the Bills, not the Chargers, who needed two quarterbacks.

Rob Johnson suffered a separated shoulder when hit by Neil Smith at the end of the Bills' first possession of overtime, an injury that will sideline him for two to four weeks.

Buffalo then got the ball back after an interception by Henry Jones at the Buffalo 41, and Doug Flutie came on to play quarterback.

Flutie drove the Bills 31 yards, Steve Christie kicked a 46-yard field--he got two tries at it--and the Chargers fell to 0-7.

Christie's first attempt bounced off the right goal post, but it didn't count because the play had been called dead when Buffalo center Jerry Ostroski false-started. Christie's second attempt barely got over the bar.

Flutie made his second consecutive appearance for Johnson, who hurt his elbow in the previous week's 22-13 loss at Miami.

"You don't want to let your teammates down," Flutie said. "You want to go in and give them the best opportunity to win."

The Chargers squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and are off to their worst start since opening the 1975 season 0-11.

The Bills (3-3), coming off three losses to AFC East rivals, avoided losing four in a row for the first time since 1985.

Oddly, it was the Chargers who intended to use two quarterbacks. Charger Coach Mike Riley lived up to his word and pulled starter Jim Harbaugh despite a solid first quarter.

Enter Moses Moreno--and chaos.

Moreno, who missed the last three games because of a right shoulder injury, fumbled the snap on his first play from scrimmage. Then, on the Chargers' next drive, Moreno fumbled when sacked by Sam Cowart.

Both turnovers led to touchdowns as the Bills went ahead, 14-3, and Moreno was done.

"Bad decision by me," said Riley, admitting he considered leaving in Harbaugh, who had just completed six consecutive passes to set up a John Carney field goal. "It was unfortunate. I would never have expected that. I still have a lot of confidence in [Moreno]."

Harbaugh, coming off a three-interception performance against Denver, completed 21 of 33 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions.

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