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  • Sunday, December 19, 1999

    Bills 31, Cardinals 21

    Flutie foils Cards in Arizona

  • Summary

      TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills beat the Arizona Cardinals the old fashioned way Sunday night, with a smash-it-up-the-middle running attack led by Jonathan Linton.

      Then Doug Flutie and Henry Jones finished it off in a 31-21 Buffalo victory.

      "We proved tonight that we can still run the ball," Linton said, "that we're still the Buffalo Bills."

      Flutie completed 21 of 32 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, including a 4-yard scoring strike to Jay Riemersma on third-and-goal that put Buffalo up 24-14 with 3:01 to play. Flutie was intercepted twice.

      Jake Plummer, ineffective most of the night, threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Rob Moore to make it 24-21 with 1:49 to go. But on the subsequent onside kick attempt, Jones caught the ball on one bounce, brushed past Arizona's Mark Maddox and made a 37-yard dash to the end zone for the clinching score with 1:44 remaining.

      "I don't think I made a play all day but that one," Jones said, "and it turned out to be a huge one."

      Buffalo (9-5), a front-runner in the AFC wild-card race, pulled away from a 14-14 halftime tie with a ball-hogging offense that kept the ball away from the Cardinals for all but 6:58 of the second half.

      Linton, a second-year pro pressed into extra duty with Antowain Smith out with turf toe, gained 81 yards in 21 carries, including 60 on 16 attempts in the second half.

      "I was surprised, disappointed, whatever word you want to put in there, that they were able to move the ball like they did," Arizona coach Vince Tobin said. "'We had eight people in the box, nine when we brought the safety up for a blitz, and we couldn't stop them consistently."

      Buffalo, which had 25 first downs, used 12 consecutive running plays to set up Steve Christie's 33-yard field goal that put the Bills up 17-14 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

      "I don't know if it was the intention for us to come out and hammer the ball," Flutie said. "We ran the ball three times and got a first down. You get 5 or 6 yards a pop, you end up sticking with it."

      The 15-play, 60-yard drive used up 9:16.

      The loss virtually killed the already slim postseason hopes of Arizona (6-8).

      "The best we can do is win our last two and finish 8-8," Tobin said. "Whether there's anything other than that out there, I don't know. I'm not a mathematician."

      Tom Knight's one-handed interception stopped Buffalo's next threat, but the Bills used up 7:33 in a 13-play, 78-yard drive the next time they had the ball. Flutie's 26-yard pass to Eric Moulds on third down set up his touchdown toss to Riemersma.

      "This is a frustrating game anyway," Arizona defensive end Thomas Burke said, "but it's really frustrating when they're hammering it at you and using up the clock."

      Flutie completed 10 of 13 passes for 129 yards in the first quarter as the Bills took a 14-0 lead.

      On the opening drive, Buffalo went 67 yard in six plays. Flutie was 3-for-3 for 58 yards on the drive, including a 15-yarder to Moulds for the touchdown.

      The Bills scored again on their third possession, going 80 yards in 20 plays with Linton running six yards for the touchdown to make it 14-0 with 1:03 to go in the first quarter.

      The Cardinals didn't get a first down until the final play of the first quarter, but they controlled the second period with a surprisingly effective ground game.

      Pass-interference penalties were crucial to Arizona's two second-quarter touchdowns, both on short runs by Mario Bates. On third-and-2 from the Buffalo 31, Ken Irvin was called for interference on Moore near the goal line. Bates capped the 13-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard run that made it 14-7 with 9:31 left in the half.

      Mac Cody's 24-yard punt return to the Buffalo 46 set the stage for Arizona's second score. A pass-interference penalty against Antoine Winfield, also against Moore, gave the Cardinals the ball at the 2, and Bates scored from there to tie it at 14 with 1:15 left in the half.

      "The two pass-interference calls kept them in the game," Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said, "but our team stood strong and then I told them at halftime to come out and show them what we're made of."

      Notes: Arizona finished the season 0-4 against the AFC. Tobin is 2-14 against AFC teams as the Cardinals coach and never has beaten an AFC East team. ... It was Buffalo's first-ever trip to Arizona. ... The Bills lost wide receiver Andre Reed in the first quarter with a rib injury. ... Buffalo finished the season against AFC foes New England and Indianapolis. ... Plummer completed 11 of 29 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. ... The Cardinals' defensive tackle Eric Swann didn't play because his surgically repaired right knee was too sore. ... Arizona was without starting offensive linemen L.J. Shelton and Lester Holmes because of injuries.

    Summary

    NFL     FINAL             1ST  2ND  3RD  4TH     TOTAL
                              ---  ---  ---  ---     -----
            BUFFALO            14    0    3   14      31
            ARIZONA             0   14    0    7      21     FINAL
    
        SCORING SUMMARY
    
        1ST QUARTER: BUF - TD, ERIC MOULDS 15 YD PASS FROM DOUG FLUTIE (STEVE
                               CHRISTIE KICK), 3:24. Drive: 6 plays, 67 yards
                               in 3:24. Key plays: Flutie 24-yard pass to
                               Riemersma on 3rd-and-4 to Arizona 37; Flutie
                               19-yard pass to Reed to Arizona 18; Flutie
                               3-for-3 for 58 yards. BUFFALO 7-0
                     BUF - TD, JONATHAN LINTON 6 YD RUN (STEVE CHRISTIE KICK),
                               13:57. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 5:34. Key
                               plays: Flutie 10-run on 3rd-and-10 to Buffalo
                               30; Flutie 6-yard pass to Williams on 3rd-and-3
                               to Buffalo 43; Flutie 21-yard pass to Price to
                               Arizona 36; Flutie 12-yard pass to Moulds on
                               3rd-and-8 to Arizona 6; Flutie 6-for-9 for 64
                               yards. BUFFALO 14-0
        2ND QUARTER: ARI - TD, MARIO BATES 1 YD RUN (CHRIS JACKE KICK), 5:29.
                               Drive: 13 plays, 80 yards in 6:32. Key plays:
                               Plummer 6-yard pass to Sanders on 3rd-and-5 to
                               Arizona 31; Plummer 12-yard pass to Moore on
                               3rd-and-6 to Buffalo 42; 22-yard pass
                               interference on Bills' Irvin on 3rd-and-2 to
                               Buffalo 1; Murrell 4 carries 21 yards. BUFFALO
                               14-7
                     ARI - TD, MARIO BATES 2 YD RUN (CHRIS JACKE KICK), 13:45.
                               Drive: 6 plays, 46 yards in 2:27. Key plays:
                               Cody 26-yard punt return to Buffalo 46; Plummer
                               12-yard pass to Sanders to Buffalo 19; 16-yard
                               pass interference on Bills' Buffield to Buffalo
                               3. BUFFALO 14, ARIZONA 14
        3RD QUARTER: BUF - FG, STEVE CHRISTIE 33 YD, 10:53. Drive: 15 plays,
                               60 yards in 9:16. Key plays: Linton 6-yard run
                               on 3rd-and-2 to Buffalo 39; Linton 14-yard run
                               to Arizona 36; Thomas 3-yard run on 3rd-and-1
                               to Arizona 13; Linton 8 carries 43 yards.
                               BUFFALO 17-14
        4TH QUARTER: BUF - TD, JAY RIEMERSMA 4 YD PASS FROM DOUG FLUTIE (STEVE
                               CHRISTIE KICK), 11:59. Drive: 13 plays, 78
                               yards in 7:33. Key plays: Flutie 15-yard pass
                               to Riemersma to Arizona 48; Flutie 9-yard pass
                               to Moulds on 3rd-and-6 to Arizona 35; Flutie
                               26-yard pass to Moulds on 3rd-and-5 to Arizona
                               4; Flutie 5-for-5 for 59 yards. BUFFALO 24-14
                     ARI - TD, ROB MOORE 26 YD PASS FROM JAKE PLUMMER (CHRIS
                               JACKE KICK), 13:11. Drive: 6 plays, 65 yards in
                               1:12. Key plays: Plummer 13-yard pass to Boston
                               on 3rd-and-10 to Arizona 48; Plummer 26-yard
                               pass to Sanders to Arizona 26; Plummer 3-for-6
                               for 65 yards. BUFFALO 24-21
                     BUF - TD, HENRY JONES 37 YD KICKOFF RETURN (STEVE
                               CHRISTIE KICK), 13:16. BUFFALO 31-21
    
    
    
    TEAM STATISTICS
    
                                  BUF            ARI
                             --------       --------
    FIRST DOWNS                    25             14
    Rushing                        13              5
    Passing                        12              7
    Penalty                         0              2
    3RD-DOWN EFFICIENCY         12-17           4-10
    4TH-DOWN EFFICIENCY           0-1            0-1
    TOTAL NET YARDS               376            178
    Total plays                    75             52
    Average gain                  5.0            3.4
    NET YARDS RUSHING             159             70
    Rushes                         41             21
    Average per rush              3.9            3.3
    NET YARDS PASSING             217            108
    Completed-attempted         21-32          11-29
    Yards per pass                6.4            3.5
    Sacked-yards lost            2-22           2-11
    Had intercepted                 2              1
    PUNTS-AVERAGE              3-37.3         6-42.3
    RETURN YARDAGE                107            203
    Punts-returns                2-18           2-45
    Kickoffs-returns             4-89          6-129
    Interceptions-returns         1-0           2-29
    PENALTIES-YARDS              4-58           5-20
    FUMBLES-LOST                  0-0            0-0
    TIME OF POSSESSION          39:30          20:30
    
    
    PLAYER STATISTICS
    
    Missed field goals:  None.
    
    Buffalo rushing: Jonathan Linton 21-81, Thurman Thomas 13-53, Doug
    Flutie 7-25. 
    
    Arizona rushing: Adrian Murrell 12-47, Mario Bates 8-24, Jake Plummer
    1-minus 1.
    
    Buffalo passing: Doug Flutie 21-32 for 239 yards, 2 INT, 2 TD. 
    
    Arizona passing: Jake Plummer 11-29 for 119 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD.
    
    Buffalo receiving: Eric Moulds 6-73, Jay Riemersma 5-62, Andre Reed
    3-42, Peerless Price 3-34, Kevin Williams 2-19, Sam Gash 1-7, Thurman
    Thomas 1-2. 
    
    Arizona receiving: Frank Sanders 5-57, Rob Moore 2-38, Terry Hardy
    2-6, David Boston 1-13, Adrian Murrell 1-5.
    
    A: 64,337;  T: 2:58.
    




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