2001 Buffalo Bills season
|2001 Buffalo Bills season|
|Head coach||Gregg Williams|
|General manager||Tom Donahoe|
|Home field||Ralph Wilson Stadium|
|Division place||5th AFC East|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
The 2001 Buffalo Bills season was the team's 42nd season. Previous head coach Wade Phillips was relieved of his duties as coach and replaced by Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. They finished the season at 3-13 and last in the AFC East division for the first time since 1985.
John Butler, who had been the Bills general manager from 1993–2000, left to take the same position with the San Diego Chargers. Butler was replaced by Tom Donahoe, who would remain with the Bills through the 2005 season.
In the wake of Buffalo's quarterback controversy, Doug Flutie was released by the Bills, prior to the season and followed Butler to San Diego. Buffalo named Rob Johnson their starting quarterback for the 2001 season, which would ultimately be his last in Buffalo. Bills defensive end Marcellus Wiley, linebacker Sam Rogers, and linebacker John Holecek also left Buffalo for San Diego in 2001, leaving a gap in Buffalo's defense. The special teams also saw a major overhaul. Placekicker Steve Christie was also among the defectors to San Diego, forcing the Bills to sign rookie Jake Arians (son of longtime offensive coordinator Bruce Arians) as a replacement, then after several weeks of Arians's poor play, Shayne Graham. Chris Mohr left for the Atlanta Falcons and was replaced by Brian Moorman, who would stay with the team for the next eleven seasons.
Buffalo's 2001 draft was general manager Tom Donahoe first with the team. The Bills' first three draft picks — Nate Clements, Aaron Schobel and Travis Henry — went on to make the Pro Bowl with the Bills.
|= Pro Bowler|
- Players in yellow indicates future Pro Bowl selections
|1||21||Nate Clements||Cornerback||Ohio State|
|2||46||Aaron Schobel||Defensive End||TCU|
|2||58||Travis Henry||Running Back||Tennessee|
|3||76||Ron Edwards||Defensive Tackle||Texas A&M|
|4||110||Brandon Spoon||Linebacker||North Carolina|
|6||178||Tony Driver||Free Safety||Notre Dame|
|6||195||Dan O'Leary||Tight End||Notre Dame|
|6||196||Jimmy R. Williams||Cornerback||Vanderbilt|
|7||214||Reggie Germany||Wide Receiver||Ohio State|
|7||238||Tyrone Robertson||Defensive Tackle||Hinds C.C.|
Undrafted free agents
|Tim Hasselbeck||Quarterback||Boston College|
|2001 Buffalo Bills staff|
Special teams coaches
Strength and conditioning
Buffalo Bills roster
|Week||Date||Opponent||Result||Record||Game Site||TV Time (EST)||Attendance|
|1||September 9, 2001||New Orleans Saints||L 6–24||0–1||Ralph Wilson Stadium||FOX 1:00PM EST|
|2||September 23, 2001||at Indianapolis Colts||L 26–42||0–2||RCA Dome||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|3||September 30, 2001||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 3–20||0–3||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|4||October 7, 2001||New York Jets||L 36–42||0–4||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 4:00PM EST|
|6||October 18, 2001||at Jacksonville Jaguars||W 13–10||1–4||Alltel Stadium||ESPN 8:30PM EST|
|7||October 28, 2001||at San Diego Chargers||L 24–27||1–5||Qualcomm Stadium||CBS 4:00PM EST|
|8||November 4, 2001||Indianapolis Colts||L 14–30||1–6||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|9||November 11, 2001||at New England Patriots||L 11–21||1–7||Foxboro Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|10||November 18, 2001||Seattle Seahawks||L 20–23||1–8||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|11||November 25, 2001||Miami Dolphins||L 27–34||1–9||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|12||December 2, 2001||at San Francisco 49ers||L 0–35||1–10||3Com Park||ESPN 8:30PM EST|
|13||December 9, 2001||Carolina Panthers||W 25–24||2–10||Ralph Wilson Stadium||FOX 1:00PM EST|
|14||December 16, 2001||New England Patriots||L 9–12||2–11||Ralph Wilson Stadium||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|15||December 23, 2001||at Atlanta Falcons||L 30–33||2–12||Georgia Dome||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|16||December 30, 2001||at New York Jets||W 14–9||3–12||The Meadowlands||CBS 1:00PM EST|
|17||January 6, 2002||at Miami Dolphins||L 7–34||3–13||Pro Player Stadium||CBS 4:00PM EST|
Week 1: vs. New Orleans Saints
- Date: September 9, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: FOX
The Gregg Williams era began inauspiciously in this game against former Bills linebacker Jim Haslett and the New Orleans Saints. The Bills led 6-0 at halftime, but in the second half the Saints turned the game into a rout. Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks went long and found Albert Connell for a 46 yard touchdown to give the Saints the lead, then later in the quarter threw another touchdown pass to tight end Cam Cleeland to make the score 17-6. Ricky Williams added another touchdown on a 19 yard reception from Brooks late in the fourth quarter to clinch the game for the Saints.
Week 2: at Indianapolis Colts
- Date: September 23, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
The Bills then traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, who were coming off an impressive road win at the Jets two weeks prior. Surprisingly, the Bills struck first with rookie cornerback Nate Clements intercepting a Peyton Manning pass and returning it 48 yards for a touchdown. However, after this play it was all Colts. Edgerrin James scored on a one yard touchdown plunge to tie the score at 7-7, then Manning threw a 60 yard bomb to receiver Jerome Pathon to make the score 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. Rookie running back Travis Henry answered with a 4 yard touchdown to tie the score at 14-14, but then Manning found Marvin Harrison for three touchdowns in the second quarter. The first two were from 39 yards apiece, and the third was a 7 yard touchdown to make the score 35-17 Colts at the half.
The Bills allowed a whopping 555 yards of total offense, with Peyton Manning throwing for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns (albeit with two interceptions).
Week 3: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Date: September 30, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
The Bills' next game was at home against the Steelers, where they continued to struggle. Near the end of the first quarter, Travis Henry fumbled in Steeler territory, and Dewayne Washington returned the loose ball 63 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring, 7-0. In the fourth quarter, the Steelers broke open the game with running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala running in for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 20-3.
The Bills were held to a mere 172 yards of total offense.
Week 4: vs. New York Jets
In danger of falling to their worst start in over a decade, the Bills opened this matchup by going into their bag of tricks. Rookie punter Brian Moorman attempted a surprise onside kick on the opening play of the game, and the Bills recovered. However, the Bills failed to score with Sammy Morris losing a fumble on the third play of the drive, and the Jets capitalized on the turnover by driving down for a 16 yard Curtis Martin touchdown run to make it 7-0. On the ensuing drive, Rob Johnson threw an interception deep in his own territory to linebacker Marvin Jones, and the Jets capitalized with Vinny Testaverde finding fullback Richie Anderson for a 4 yard touchdown on the very next play to make it 14-0 Jets. Johnson answered with a 46 yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds, but a failed two-point conversion kept the score at 14-6. The next Bills drive lasted only one play as linebacker Mo Lewis sacked Johnson and forced him to fumble, with lineman John Abraham returning the fumble 7 yards for another Jets touchdown. The next play from scrimmage featured an injury. Just as he had two weeks earlier when he knocked out Drew Bledsoe against the Patriots to begin the Tom Brady era, Mo Lewis hit Rob Johnson at the end of a 17 yard run and knocked him out of the game, forcing longtime backup Alex Van Pelt to take over at quarterback.
Alex Van Pelt played well in his relief appearance, and after Curtis Martin added another touchdown to make the score 28-9 Jets, the Bills began to mount a comeback. Late in the first half, Van Pelt found tight end Jay Riemersma for a 3 yard touchdown to make the score 28-15 at the half. Then on the opening drive of the second half, Van Pelt found Peerless Price for a 70 yard touchdown to cut the deficit to just 6, 28-22. However, the Jets stretched the lead back to 20 points with Vinny Testaverde finding tight end Anthony Becht for a 2 yard touchdown, then with Mo Lewis recovering a Larry Centers fumble and returning it 15 yards for another touchdown to make the score 42-22. With 4:37 to go, Centers did run in for a 2 yard touchdown to make the score 42-29, then the Bills forced a punt. Van Pelt led the Bills to another touchdown by finding Centers for a 7 yard touchdown to make the score 42-36, the drive took lots of time due to short passes and there were only 7 seconds remaining at this point. The Bills' subsequent onside kick was recovered by the Jets and the game then ended.
Alex Van Pelt was 23 of 41 for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Travis Henry ran for 113 yards on 19 carries for his first career 100-yard game, Eric Moulds caught 5 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Peerless Price added 4 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Although the Bills outgained the Jets 473-335, the turnover battle decided the game as the Bills committed 5 turnovers to the Jets' 0.
Week 6: at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Bills finally got into the win column with this win over the slumping Jaguars in a Thursday night clash. They led 3-0 at halftime after a 30 yard field goal by kicker Jake Arians. In the third quarter, Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell found tight end Kyle Brady for a 20 yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-3, but on the ensuing drive Rob Johnson hit Eric Moulds for a 27 yard touchdown to make the score 10-7. Late in the fourth quarter with the score tied 10-10, the Bills drove to the Jaguars' 29 yard line. Arians made a 46 yard field goal with 1:03 to go to give the Bills the lead, then safety Travares Tillman intercepted a Brunell pass on the next drive with 44 seconds left to seal the win.
Week 7: at San Diego Chargers
- Date: October 28, 2001
- Game time: 1:15 p.m. PST (4:15 p.m. EST)
- TV: CBS
Among the most hyped games of the year for the Bills was this game against the Chargers. This was in large part due to the number of Bills players and executive from the previous season's team that were now part of the Chargers, including general manager John Butler, quarterback Doug Flutie, and defensive end Marcellus Wiley. Of particular note was the head-to-head quarterback battle between Flutie and Rob Johnson, who had jousted with each other for the Bills' starting quarterback position over the previous three seasons.
The Chargers came out strong with a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Doug Flutie found tight end Freddie Jones for a one yard touchdown in the quarter. However, the Bills rallied at the end of the half with Rob Johnson running in for a 1 yard touchdown and Jake Arians kicking a 41 yard field goal as time expired in the half to make the score 13-10 Chargers.
In the fourth quarter, Jason Perry intercepted a Rob Johnson pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to make the score 20-10 Chargers. However on the very next play from scrimmage, Johnson hit Peerless Price for a 61 yard touchdown to make the score 20-17 with 10:11 to go. After the following Chargers drive ended with a missed field goal, the Bills drove down the field and scored a touchdown with Travis Henry scoring on a one yard plunge to make the score 24-20 Bills with just 1:30 remaining. However, special teams would cost the Bills the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Chargers kick returner Ronney Jenkins returned the ball 72 yards to the Bills' 26 yard line, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brian Moorman added half the distance to the goal. On the next play, Doug Flutie ran in for a 13 yard touchdown to make the score 27-24 Chargers with 1:10 to go. Despite this turn of events, the Bills were not done. A 25 yard pass from Rob Johnson to Jay Riemersma moved the ball to field goal range in the final moments of the game. However with 7 seconds remaining, Jake Arians' 44 yard field goal attempt was blocked.
In the battle of the two quarterbacks, Rob Johnson went 24 of 37 for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Doug Flutie was 21 of 33 for 254 yards and a touchdown. Both players added a rushing touchdown as well. While Johnson outgained Flutie through the air and on the ground, Flutie's quarterback rating was 97.3 to Johnson's 88.8.
Former Bill Marcellus Wiley added 2 sacks against his former team.
Week 8: vs. Indianapolis Colts
- Date: November 4, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
Although they themselves were now in the midst of a disappointing season, the Colts still beat the Bills soundly upon the rematch at Orchard Park. The Colts scored first on the first play of the second quarter with Peyton Manning finding tight end Marcus Pollard for a 15 yard score. Nate Clements tied the game for the Bills with a 66 yard punt return touchdown. However, the Bills suffered a defensive breakdown on the next series. Manning called for a naked bootleg, and despite his slow speed outran the Bills to the end zone untouched for a 33 yard touchdown run (the longest run of his career) to make the score 14-7 Colts. In the third quarter, running back Dominic Rhodes ran in for a 1 yard touchdown to make the score a three score game, 24-7.
Week 9: at New England Patriots
- Date: November 11, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
Tom Brady's reign of terror against the Bills began with this Week 9 matchup that saw the Patriots improve to over .500 for the first time in their first Super Bowl season. However, it would be former Bill Antowain Smith who would do the most damage in this contest.
The Patriots would open the scoring in the first quarter with Tom Brady finding running back Kevin Faulk for a 6 yard touchdown to make the score 7-0. A 24 yard Jake Arians field goal made the score 7-3 at the half. In the third quarter, Antowain Smith ran in for a 1 yard score to make the score 14-3 Patriots heading in the final quarter. With under 5 minutes remaining, cornerback Terrell Buckley sacked Rob Johnson, who suffered a season-ending injury in the process. Johnson was replaced by Alex Van Pelt as the Bills turned it over on downs by failing to convert a 4th and 27 with 4:07 left. However on the ensuing possession, defensive end Kendrick Office sacked Brady and forced him to fumble, with fellow lineman Jay Foreman recovering the ball to put the Bills back in the game. The Bills capitalized on the turnover with Van Pelt finding Peerless Price for a 17 yard touchdown score two plays later, and the ensuing two point conversion made the score 14-11 Patriots with 2:43 to go. However, the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Patriots, and two plays later, Smith broke through for a 42 yard touchdown to clinch the game.
One bright spot for the Bills in this game was their pass rush. The Bills broke through the Patriots' strong O-line for 7 sacks, with Kendrick Office, Tyrone Robertson, and rookie defensive end Aaron Schobel all contributing two sacks apiece. However, the Bills allowed their former running back Antowain Smith to run for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries.
The game was Rob Johnson's final appearance as a Buffalo Bill, as Alex Van Pelt started for the remainder of the season. Fittingly, he was sacked 5 times.
Week 10: vs. Seattle Seahawks
- Date: November 18, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
The Bills kicked off a two week homestand with a home matchup against the Seahawks. In the second quarter, Matt Hasselbeck found rookie wide receiver Koren Robinson for a 7 yard touchdown to make the score 10-0 Seattle. However, the Bills struck back with Alex Van Pelt finding Peerless Price for a 16 yard touchdown on the ensuing drive to make the score 10-7, and Jake Arians's 25 yard field goal tied the score at 10-10 at halftime. In the third quarter, Seattle regained the lead with running back Shaun Alexander scoring on a 1 yard run to make it 17-10. Two field goals by future Bill Rian Lindell, including one from 51 yards, made the score 23-13 Seahawks with just 3:12 to go. Van Pelt hit Jay Riemersma for a 6 yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 3, 23-20, with 1:23 to go. However, Seahawks cornerback Shawn Springs recovered Arians's ensuing onside kick and the game then ended.
The Bills outgained the Seahawks 372-246, but committed 2 turnovers while the Seahawks committed none.
Despite the loss, Alex Van Pelt played well in his first start of the season, going 28-42 for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions. Peerless Price was the leading receiver with 10 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.
During halftime, longtime quarterback Jim Kelly's name was added to the Bills Wall of Fame, and his number 12 jersey was retired. It was the first number retired by the Buffalo Bills, and as of 2017 is one of only two numbers to have been retired by the franchise (Bruce Smith's #78 is the other).
Week 11: vs. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins opened the scoring in this divisional game with running back Lamar Smith scoring a 1 yard touchdown, but the Bills answered on the very next play from scrimmage with Alex Van Pelt finding Eric Moulds for an 80 yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. With 6 seconds to go in the half, the Bills capped off an 80 yard drive with Van Pelt finding Sheldon Jackson for a 1 yard touchdown pass to give the Bills a surprising 14-10 lead at the half. On the opening drive of the second half, Van Pelt threw a 54 yard touchdown pass to Moulds, and the score was 21-10 Bills heading into the final quarter.
However, the fourth quarter was a Bills meltdown. On the opening play of the quarter, Jay Fiedler found tight end Jed Weaver for an 8 yard touchdown pass to narrow the score 21-17. The Bills answered with another touchdown drive, capped off by Travis Henry's 8 yard touchdown run with 8:16 to go. However, Jake Arians whiffed on the extra point, and the score remained 27-17. On the following drive, Fiedler found rookie wide receiver Chris Chambers for a 22 yard touchdown pass to cut the score to 27-24 with 4:07 to play. After a Bills punt, the Dolphins drove into field goal range, and Olindo Mare kicked a 39 yard field goal to tie the score at 27-27 with just 1:11 to go. On the very next play, Nate Clements fumbled the kick return, and Dolphins corner Patrick Surtain recovered at the Bills' 42 yard line. Two plays later, Fiedler hooked up with Chambers for his second touchdown of the quarter, a 32 yard pass that gave the Dolphins a stunning 34-27 lead with 48 seconds remaining. Alex Van Pelt attempted to get the Bills down the field for a game-tying touchdown in the game's final moments, but while spiking the ball at the Dolphins' 32 yard line to set up one more opportunity, the clock ran out.
Alex Van Pelt was 21-34 for 309 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception for his second consecutive 300 yard game. Eric Moulds caught 6 of his passes for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Week 12: at San Francisco 49ers
- Date: December 2, 2001
- Game time: 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST)
- TV: ESPN
- Announcers: Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, and Paul Maguire
After three consecutive competitive games against teams that finished with winning records, the Bills were completely dominated by the 49ers in a Sunday Night game in San Francisco. In the second quarter, 49ers running back Garrison Hearst opened the scoring with a 1 yard touchdown run, followed by Jeff Garcia finding receiver Tai Streets for a 23 yard touchdown to make the score 14-0 49ers at halftime. The Bills' misery continued in the third quarter as Garcia found Terrell Owens for a 17 yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-0 at the end of three quarters. Even fullback Fred Beasley and seldom-used running back Paul Smith got in on the fun with touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
The 49ers dominated the Bills in all phases of the game, outgaining the Bills 409-191 with a 230-29 advantage on the ground while controlling the clock for 39:48 to the Bills' 20:12. Alex Van Pelt threw 4 interceptions, while Travis Henry was held to a mere 9 yards rushing.
Week 13: vs. Carolina Panthers
- Date: December 9, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: FOX
The Panthers-Bills matchup was, by record, the worst matchup of the 2001 NFL season with the teams combining for a record of 4-28. Sure enough, only 44,549 fans were on hand to see the Bills finally end their 6 game losing streak in a sloppy game.
After a 3-3 stalemate in the first quarter, the Panthers built a big lead in the second quarter. Rookie Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke ran in for a 1 yard touchdown, then running back Richard Huntley added a 2 yard touchdown to make the score 17-3 Panthers. After a field goal by the Bills' new kicker Shayne Graham (who replaced Jake Arians starting in the 49ers game), Weinke found tight end Kris Mangum for a 2 yard touchdown to make the score 24-6 Panthers with 36 seconds to go in the half. However, the Bills drove 70 yards down the field in just 30 seconds, scoring on Alex Van Pelt's 7 yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price with 1 second to go in the half. This made the score 24-13 Carolina at the half.
In the third quarter, rookie linebacker Brandon Spoon intercepted a Chris Weinke pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, with a failed two point conversion keeping the score 24-19 Panthers heading into the final quarter. With 8 minutes remaining, Travis Henry ran in for a 1 yard touchdown plunge to give the Bills their first lead of the game, 25-24. The Bills' defense held on a 4th and 2 with 2:24 to go, then Alex Van Pelt completed a pass to Jay Riemersma on a 3rd and 8 for a game-clinching first down.
Travis Henry ran for 101 yards on 27 carries for a touchdown.
Week 14: vs. New England Patriots
The Bills' final home game of the year was a defensive slugfest against the Patriots that did not feature a single touchdown. The Patriots led 6-0 at the half after two Adam Vinatieri field goals. In the fourth quarter the Bills took a 9-6 lead after three consecutive Shayne Graham field goals, which Vinatieri answered with a 25 yard field goal with 2:45 remaining to tie the score at 9-9. After neither team was able to move the ball in the final minutes of regulation, the game went into overtime. Perhaps representative of the defensive battle, the game's most memorable play came in the third quarter when Nate Clements blasted Tom Brady on a QB scramble after he found no receivers open, sending his helmet flying in the process.
Defensive theatrics aside, the Patriots got help from a challenge in overtime. Tom Brady completed a pass to wide receiver David Patten, who fumbled upon being tackled by safety Keion Carpenter along the sideline. Initially it was ruled that Nate Clements recovered the fumble for the Bills, but upon being challenged by Bill Belichick, the ball was ruled out of bounds and the Patriots kept the ball. On the next play, former Bill Antowain Smith broke free for a 38 yard run to put the Patriots in the red zone, setting up Adam Vinatieri for a game-winning 23 yard field goal.
Week 15: at Atlanta Falcons
- Date: December 23, 2001
- Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
In contrast to their previous game with the Patriots, the Bills' contest against the Atlanta Falcons turned into a shootout. The Falcons opened the scoring with running back Maurice Smith running in for a 1 yard touchdown. Just one minute later, the Bills struck back with running back Shawn Bryson, starting in place of Travis Henry, running for a 15 yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7. In the second quarter, Brandon Spoon intercepted a pass by Chris Chandler and returned it 7 yards for his second touchdown in three weeks, and the Bills led 14-13 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bills fell behind 16-14 after a Jay Feely field goal, but regained the lead with Shawn Bryson outrunning the Falcons for a 68 yard touchdown to make the score 20-16. However, two touchdown passes by Chris Chandler, the first to receiver Tony Martin for 63 yards and the second to rookie tight end Alge Crumpler for 49 yards, caused the Bills to fall behind 30-20 with 11:56 to go. With 3:55 to go, Shayne Graham kicked a field goal to make the score 30-23, then the Bills used up their three timeouts to force a Falcons punt. Alex Van Pelt drove the Bills 82 yards down the field, then threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Eric Moulds with just 48 seconds remaining to tie the score at 30-30. However, the Falcons were not content with overtime and went for the win. An illegal formation penalty pushed them back to midfield with 10 seconds remaining, but Chandler completed a 16 yard pass to receiver Brian Finneran and the Falcons called their final timeout with 2 seconds remaining. This set up a long attempt for rookie kicker Jay Feely at 52 yards, but his kick was good as time expired. Feely celebrated by jumping wildly as the Bills walked off the turf with yet another loss in a close game.
Although the Bills outgained the Falcons on the ground 190-67 with Shawn Bryson running for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 16 carries, the Falcons outgained the Bills in net passing 422-208 with Chris Chandler torching the Bills secondary for 431 yards passing.
Week 16: at New York Jets
Despite the struggles the Bills faced all season, they were able to play spoiler in a late-season game against the New York Jets, who were fighting for a playoff spot in the crowded AFC race. The game was played on a cold, windy day in New Jersey, but the lack of precipitation was notable for Buffalo fans as their city was being pelted by a raging snowstorm in the days leading up to the game.
Late in the first half, the Bills got on the board with Larry Centers scoring on a 5 yard run with 19 seconds remaining in the half, giving them a 7-6 lead. In the third quarter, the Bills extended their lead with Alex Van Pelt finding Peerless Price for a 22 yard touchdown pass. At the two minute warning, the Jets were at the Bills' 35 yard line needing a touchdown to win down 14-9. However, Phil Hansen (playing in his second-to-last game before retirement) made a big play by tipping a Vinny Testaverde pass and intercepting it, ending the scoring threat. The Jets used their remaining timeouts to force a three-and-out before the Bills special teams threatened to give away yet another game, with Brian Moorman fumbling the snap on the ensuing punt and the Jets recovering at midfield with 47 seconds left. With one more chance, the Jets advanced to the Bills' 24 yard line when a baffling coaching decision decided the game. Rather than go for a touchdown with 13 seconds left, the Jets called for a short passing play over the middle of the field. Testaverde threw to Curtis Martin, who was tackled by Jay Foreman as the clock continued to run. The Jets were forced to run no huddle for a desperation pass and got a final snap off with less than a second remaining, but with few players on the field focused on the play anyway, Testaverde threw a pass intended for receiver Kevin Swayne that sailed over the end zone to end the game.
Shawn Bryson had his second consecutive 100-yard game by running for 107 yards on 28 carries.
Week 17: at Miami Dolphins
- Date: January 6, 2002
- Game time: 4:15 p.m. EST
- TV: CBS
The Bills' woeful season came to a fitting ending against the Dolphins. In this game, Alex Van Pelt played the first quarter and backup Travis Brown, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, played the final three quarters.
The Bills fell behind 13-0 at halftime, with Dolphins running back Lamar Smith running for a 6 yard touchdown during that time. After the Bills scored their only points of the game in the third quarter to make the score 13-7, the fourth quarter was a disaster. Jay Fiedler found receiver James McKnight for a 16 yard touchdown pass, then ran for a 16 yard touchdown on the Dolphins' next possession to make the score 27-7. The Bills' offense was awful, with Alex Van Pelt throwing an interception and Travis Brown throwing two more while the ground game contributed only 39 yards rushing, and their run defense struggled with Lamar Smith gashing and running over the defense for 158 yards rushing. And with all that said, the worst play of the game for the Bills - and a highly symbolic conclusion to their season - came on the final play of the game. Brown was intercepted at the goal line by safety Brock Marion while trying to throw an out pattern, and Marion raced down the sideline untouched for a 100 yard touchdown and exclamation point.
With this loss, the Bills finished their worst season since 1985 with a 3-13 record.
|(2) New England Patriots||11||5||0||.688||371||272||W6|
|(4) Miami Dolphins||11||5||0||.688||344||290||W2|
|(6) New York Jets||10||6||0||.625||308||295||W1|
- Players are identified as a Pro Bowler if they were selected for the Pro-Bowl at any time in their career.
- Pro Bowl: 2004 season
- Pro Bowl: 2006, 2007
- Pro Bowl: 2002 season
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