Work in Sports
LANDOVER, Maryland (Ticker) -- The next time Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has a postgame chat, it might be with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
The Buffalo Bills held the ball for 41 minutes, rolled up 413 total yards against the NFL's lowest-ranked defense and pulled away for a 34-17 rout of the Redskins.
Antowain Smith ran for two touchdowns and Doug Flutie efficiently passed for two scores for the Bills (6-3), who have posted consecutive wins since losing two in a row.
"It was key that we controlled the ball," Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said. "They've got a great offensive team and our defense played tremendously. But you can't play the whole game against them that way. Holding them to 17 points had a lot to do with our running game and our controlling the ball. But our defense made the plays."
Brad Johnson threw for 232 yards and a touchdown but Washington (5-3) lost for the second time in three weeks and fell into a first-place tie with the idle New York Giants in the NFC East.
"You never like to lose in front of your home fans," said Redskins rookie cornerback Champ Bailey. "They came to our backyard and kicked us around. That's not a good feeling."
Three weeks ago, after a 38-20 loss at Dallas, Snyder met for 40 minutes with coach Norv Turner. The two huddled again upon returning to Washington, but the Redskins continued to struggle defensively. They have surrendered 94 points in the last three games, and today allowed more than 30 for the fourth time this season.
"It was disappointing because we worked so hard on it," Turner said. "We did a lot to prepare in terms of film study. We had guys in position a number of times, but we weren't able to tackle. That's what I talked about at halftime. I said if you're going to miss them, miss them going 100 miles per hour. Don't be tentative. We can play better run defense than we did, but most of our problems came on third down, getting them off the field."
Smith and fullback Jonathan Linton spearheaded Buffalo's rushing attack, which accounted for 204 yards. Smith ran for 68 yards, including touchdowns of one yard in the second quarter and 10 in the third. Linton, who caught the winning TD pass in last week's 13-10 victory at Baltimore, had a career-best 96 yards on 24 carries.
Smith's go-ahead score 18 seconds before halftime came five plays after Flutie eluded two tacklers and scrambled for eight yards on 4th-and-5 to the Washington 15.
"It was a strong-side read," Flutie explained. "I was looking to see if I was going to have a shot at Jon (Linton) getting into the middle. It was taking too long and I was holding the ball too long. It was time to move, so I started to run up in there. And I saw a defensive end in the corner of my eye, so I had to avoid him and backtrack a little. Normally, I wouldn't have made the cut but because it was fourth down I had to take the chance."
Flutie carried five times for 40 yards and completed 16-of-22 passes for 211. Having Eric Moulds back for the first time in three weeks made a huge difference, he said.
"I don't know if he caught a ball in the first half, but they were rotating coverage his way and playing a seven-man front," Flutie noted. "Then, finally, they said, 'To heck with this, we have to try to stop the run.' They went to an eight-man front and Moulds gets five catches in the second half. It makes life a lot easier for us."
Buffalo extended a 17-10 halftime lead with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Flutie threw a 23-yard pass to tight end Jay Riemersma, then ran 14 yards on 3rd-and-1 to set up Smith's 10-yard score with 6:50 remaining.
Exactly six minutes later, Flutie connected with Moulds for a 14-yard score, capping a 64-yard drive that ate up 5 1/2 minutes.
"He's awesome, he truly is," Bills defensive end Bruce Smith said of his quarterback. "I'm just glad I'm not on the other side of the ball trying to tackle him. You have to play disciplined if you're playing against him. He can be your worst nightmare."
Washington ran only nine plays and held the ball for 2 1/2 minutes in the quarter but closed within 31-17 by moving 90 yards on its first possession of the fourth. An interception by safety Kurt Schulz was negated by a 39-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Ken Irvin, and Johnson found Albert Connell for a 19-yard score three plays later.
After recovering the ensuing onsides kickoff, the Bills sealed the win on Steve Christie's 20-yard field goal with just over four minutes to play.
Christie got Buffalo on the board in the first quarter with a 23-yarder, seven minutes after Stephen Davis capped the game's opening possession with an eight-yard touchdown run for Washington.
Brett Conway missed a 55-yard field goal and the Bills took the lead on their next possession, moving 55 yards in 10 plays to Flutie's six-yard TD toss to rookie tight end Bobby Collins.
Davis finished with 33 yards on nine rushes for the Redskins, whose next three games are against NFC East opponents. Buffalo's next three contests are against AFC East foes.