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Coleman's Flight Plan Grounds Bills

September 18, 2000|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When the New York Jets traded Keyshawn Johnson, they figured they'd need several receivers to fill the void. Little did anyone know that a defensive back would be in the mix.

Cornerback Marcus Coleman caught a 45-yard scoring pass from Vinny Testaverde on the final play of the first half Sunday, breaking a 14-14 tie and lifting the Jets to a 27-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

"We work on that play every Friday, so I knew there was a possibility we would run it," Coleman said of his spot on the Jets' alley-oop pass unit. "I was surprised that no one was on me as I ran down the middle. Once the ball was in the air, I don't care who was around me, I think the ball is mine."

The Jets, 3-0 for the first time since 1966, relied on Testaverde's fourth-quarter heroics to win their first two games. This time, along with Kevin Williams' 97-yard kickoff return in the first quarter, the big plays came in the first half.

Buffalo Coach Wade Phillips said Coleman's catch "turned the game around completely."

"We had the game going our way," he said. "We had the crowd out of it going into the half. We should have everybody back on the goal line. They should be waiting for the ball instead of jumping."

The victory left the Jets alone in first place in the AFC East and the Bills slipped to 2-1. On Sunday, New York plays the Buccaneers--and Keyshawn Johnson--in Tampa, Fla.

After Buffalo scored a touchdown on its first possession, Williams sprinted down the sideline to tie the score at 7-7.

"It happened early, but playmaking is contagious, so I was hoping we would make more," said Williams, who missed most of last season because of a life-threatening throat infection. "But I can't harp on one play. Just like you do with a bad play, you have to forget a good play."

The Bills drove 80 yards in 12 plays on their first possession. Johnson passed to Eric Moulds for the final three yards after hitting tight end Jay Riemersma three times for 48 yards during the drive. Riemersma later after jamming a knee, and his status was uncertain.

Williams' kickoff return and Curtis Martin's five-yard touchdown run made it 14-7, and Buffalo's offense fizzled after a quick start, making only one first down on four possessions.

But late in the half, McDaniel got behind the Jet defense for the touchdown pass from Johnson, tying the score at 14-14.

The Jets, using short passes and their two remaining timeouts, reached the Buffalo 45, where Testaverde spiked the ball with four seconds left. From there, he lofted the ball into the end zone to Coleman, and the Bills never caught up.

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