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Bills Still Alive and Kicking

October 30, 2000|From Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Another comeback bid by the New York Jets fell short when Steve Christie delivered in the clutch again for Buffalo.

Set up by the Bills' 57-yard drive engineered by Doug Flutie in the final 2:20, Christie kicked a 34-yard field goal as time ran out, lifting the Bills to a 23-20 victory Sunday. It was the third time this season and 15th time in his career that Christie has kicked a game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter or overtime.

"There wasn't much to think about, just keeping it down the middle," said Christie, who also made field goals from 20 and 29 yards. "I have to hit them from wherever we end up."

The Bills' placekicker seemed unconcerned after having a 44-yard attempt blocked by Shane Burton earlier in the fourth quarter, ending a streak of 10 consecutive made.

"I still thought I hit it well, so just keeping that in the back of my mind, thinking to make good contact with the ball and hopefully getting a couple or more chances," Christie said.

The Bills, meanwhile, were running out of chances after losing four of their last five games, including three in a row to AFC East Division rivals.

With the win, Buffalo improved to 4-4 and climbed back into the playoff chase.

"I told our team that this was the game as far as the rest of our season was concerned," Coach Wade Phillips said. "I just don't think we could've lost this one and had a realistic chance of being where we want to be."

Linebacker Sam Cowart, who leads the Bills in tackles, had a solid game. Cowart recovered two fumbles and made a key tackle, stuffing Richie Anderson for a five-yard loss that forced the Jets to settle for John Hall's 36-yard field goal with 2:20 left that tied the score at 20-20.

"This was a very big win or us," said Cowart, who was in on 11 tackles. "If we dropped to 0-4 in the AFC East, we might have been home for Christmas."

The Jets finally ran out of comeback magic after pulling out four games with fourth-quarter rallies this season, including last week's 40-37 overtime win over Miami in which New York trailed, 30-7, entering the final period.

Although they came back twice Sunday to tie the game, the Jets never recovered after spotting Buffalo a 17-7 first-half lead.

"It's going to catch up with you," Aaron Glenn said.

The Jets (6-2) could only blame themselves, committing four turnovers, three of which led to Bills' scores. A fumble by Vinny Testaverde at the Buffalo 10 foiled a scoring bid in the second quarter.

Testaverde, who threw for 293 yards, was intercepted twice. Henry Jones picked off one and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown.

"Turnovers will cause you to lose, and that was confirmed today," Jet Coach Al Groh said. "Too many hurdles to overcome."

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