Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson made it quite clear last spring when he said that he'd rather beat the San Diego Chargers this year than win the Super Bowl.
Thanks to an ex-Bill, it doesn't appear likely that he'll accomplish either goal.
Doug Flutie, who was released last year by Buffalo in favor of current quarterback Rob Johnson, broke loose from the grasp of Phil Hansen with just over one minute remaining, and scrambled thirteen yards for the Chargers go-ahead score, cementing a 27-24 victory and improving the Chargers record to 5-2.
"I'm glad it's over," Flutie told reporters. "It was a fun week for the media I'm sure but I'm just glad it's over. I had too many headaches this week. It's all history now, and everything is behind us. Since minicamp and training camp, I'm a San Diego Charger."
And so for that matter is John Butler, Chargers new general manager who was fired by Wilson after refusing to renegotiate a contract at the end of last season.
"Sometimes that's how it goes, but everything evens out in the long run," said Wilson, after watching his team drop to 1-5 for the season. "I just hope I can hang in there for the long run. The two teams out on the field played a great game today, that's all I've got to say."
While Wilson may be reassessing the release of Flutie, his depiction of the game is highly accurate, with both teams rising to the occasion of an all out grudge match.
San Diego opened the scoring on their initial possession as kicker Wade Richey found the range from 37-yards out to give the Chargers an early 3-0 lead.
The teams' second possession proved equally successful as Flutie connected with a wide-open Freddie Jones on a bootleg from the one-yard line, as San Diego took control at 10-0. The touchdown toss capped a nine play 58-yard drive, which ate up nearly six minutes off the clock.
Moments into the second quarter Richey added another three to the San Diego lead with his second field goal of the afternoon, this one from 25-yards out, and San Diego assumed 13-0 advantage.
It took Buffalo nearly twenty-three minutes before they finally lit the scoreboard, as Rob Johnson capped a 5-play, 58-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak, cutting the San Diego lead to 13-7.
Johnson closed the gap even further as the first half expired, driving the Bills 50-yards in 11-plays to set up a 41-yard Jake Arians field goal.
Despite dominating every major statistical category, the Chargers held a slim 13-10 lead heading into the locker room at the half.
That lead remained secure through a scoreless third quarter, and widened to 20-10 with just over ten minutes remaining as Chargers safety Jason Perry picked off Rob Johnson on a third and 17 pass, racing 37-yards for the score.
Buffalo countered one play later as Johnson found Peerless Price for a 61-yard touchdown reception, cutting the San Diego lead to 20-17.
With momentum in their favor, Buffalo took their first lead of the game with under two minutes remaining as Travis Henry capped off a 12-play, 68-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run, giving the Bills a 24-20 lead.
As timely as the Bills touchdown was, it left more than enough time for what the NFL has come to know as "Flutie Magic".
Ronnie Jenkins, who deserves as much credit for this win as Flutie, set the mark with a 72-yard kickoff return, giving San Diego momentum, hope and a very short field to work in. An usportsmanlike conduct penatly on Bills special teams specialists Brian Moorman also added to the Chargers field position, giving them first and ten from the Bills thirteen-yard line.
One play later the Flutie magic began, and what appeared to be a sure quarterback sack, turned into a game winning score.
"I thought they had him sacked," said San Diego Head Coach Mike Riley. "Then the next thing you know he's running. I knew from the crowd's reaction that he was going to score. I couldn't see it, but the crowd let everybody know he was going to score a touchdown."
Flutie's summary wasn't as dramatic as his head coach.
"Just another day at the office," he said with a smile.
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