Bills pluck Seahawks

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2000

SEATTLE -- Buffalo Bills coach Wade Phillips didn't get much of an endorsement from his owner.

''I'd rather just sit with this game for a few hours,'' Ralph Wilson said when asked about Phillips following the Bills' 42-23 victory over Seattle on Saturday night.

Wilson fired general manager John Butler this week, and the 82-year-old owner was at practice all week.

''I'm going to start this week,'' Wilson said when asked about his new GM. ''I'm going to get things squared away.''

Doug Flutie showed he still has a lot to offer to the Bills if they want him back.

He completed 20 of 25 passes for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns as the Bills snapped a four-game losing streak -- their longest slide since 1985 -- to finish 8-8.

''I've got no control over it,'' Flutie said about his future in Buffalo. ''All I'm thinking about is playing football.''

Flutie got a glowing endorsement from Peerless Price, who caught eight passes for 132 yards and one touchdown.

''Flutie's great,'' Price said. ''He's an offensive wizard. He knows all, he sees all. He's just a great competitor.''

Seattle finished 6-10, the first losing season in Mike Holmgren's career as an NFL head coach.

In the rain-drenched finale, Flutie played superbly in place of Rob Johnson, who suffered a concussion last week.

After the game, Flutie was happy, but sad, too.

''Let's go play a couple more,'' he said. ''But it's disheartening to go home before Christmas.''

Matched against the NFL's worst defense, the Bills punted only once and rolled up 579 yards. The Seahawks committed four turnovers, losing three fumbles and throwing an interception.

Butler's successor as general manager of the Bills will make the decision whether to bring Flutie back. If Flutie is released, it would count $4.5 million against the salary cap.

Flutie, 38, guided Buffalo to a 28-14 halftime lead, going 14-for-17 for 249 yards and three touchdowns.

Aided by 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalties on Willie Williams and Chad Brown, the Bills scored the first time they had the ball. Flutie passed 11 yards to Shawn Bryson for the touchdown.

''Nothing seemed to go right,'' Brown said. ''This was exactly how the defense was all year. It seems like someone was always setting some personal record against us.''

They made it 14-0 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Flutie to Price before Seattle's Charlie Rogers ran back the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown.

Buffalo quickly scored again after Flutie completed a 48-yard pass to Eric Moulds to the Seattle 15. With Bryson out with a back and hip injury that he suffered when he scored his touchdown, Antowain Smith made it 21-7 on a 9-yard run, his first of three TD runs.

Kitna spiked the ball after scoring on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter, but it was a short-lived celebration.

After recovering Darrell Jackson's fumble at the 50, the Bills got their final touchdown of the opening half on a 6-yard pass from Flutie to tight end Jay Riemersa with 1:09 left.

In the second half, Smith scored on runs of 2 and 4 yards, while Ricky Watters had a 6-yard touchdown run for the Seahawks.

Both the Bills and the Seahawks have a lot of decisions to make during the offseason.

Phillips has one year left on his contract. Moulds, defensive end Marcellus Wiley and kicker Steve Christie will become unrestricted free agents.

Phillips, who is in his third season in Buffalo, said he was proud of the way his team battled adversity this week, referring to Butler's firing.

''A lot of things happened and it was a long trip,'' he said.

Holmgren, also Seattle's general manager, did a major retooling of his roster after last season and he could be in the same mood again. Among the casualties could be eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and former Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair.

''Clearly, we did not have a good defensive year,'' Holmgren said. ''We have to find out why.''

On offense for Seattle, Watters could be released because Holmgren has top draft choice Shaun Alexander available to replace him. The Seahawks also might not bring Kitna and guard Pete Kendall back. Both will become unrestricted free agents.

Kitna was 18-for-29 for 295 yards and no touchdowns with one interception in what might have been his final Seahawks start.

Holmgren refused to criticize his team's lack of intensity.

''I'm not even going to talk about effort,'' he said. ''It's just that we didn't really play very well.''

Notes: Watters, with 67 yards on 17 carries, moved into 12th place on the career rushing list with 10,325 yards, passing Ottis Anderson (10,273). Next up is O.J. Simpson (11,352). ... Moulds became Buffalo's single-season leader in receptions with four catches for 94. Andre Reed had 90 in 1994. ... Rogers scored his third career NFL touchdown. As a rookie last season, Rogers ran back a punt 94 yards for a TD during the regular season and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD against Miami in a playoff game. ... Smith rushed 17 times for a career-high 147 yards. He came into the game with 207 yards on 84 carries. It was the 10th 100-yard rushing performance against Seattle's defense this season. ... The 579 yards by Buffalo was the most against the Seahawks this year. ... Moulds and Price each had 100-yard receiving days. Moulds caught four balls for 101 yards and Price eight for 132 yards. ... Flutie had his fourth career 300-yard passing game. He had one last season and two in 1998.



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