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Bills Hold Off Steelers


It was almost like Christmas in Buffalo.

The Bills got everything they wanted Sunday: a victory over Pittsburgh, New England's first loss and another stellar performance from Doug Flutie. The only thing missing was snow.

Flutie threw three touchdown passes and hooked up with Eric Moulds for six completions for 122 yards, including a 49-yard TD in Buffalo's 24-21 win over the Steelers.

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Game Summary

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  • The Bills (4-1) collected their fourth straight victory after a sloppy season-opening loss to Indianapolis and ended the day with a share of first place in the AFC East with the Patriots, who fell to Kansas City on a missed field goal.

    "We saw the miss and it was nice," Flutie said after Adam Vinatieri's missed 32-yard field goal in the final seconds. "We're 4-1 and that's nice, too."

    Flutie completed 11 of his first 12 passes and finished 21-for-32 for 261 yards with no interceptions. He also threw touchdown passes to fullback Sam Gash and tight end Jay Riermersma, and Steve Christie kicked a 29-yard field goal.

    "This was my best day throwing this season," said Flutie, whose 300-yard passing day against the Colts was marred by two interceptions. "The ball came out well and I saw the field better than I have. I just felt like I had all kinds of time out there."

    Flutie also had room. He scrambled for a 21-yard gain on third-and-20 to sustain a drive that led to Christie's field goal and a 17-7 lead late in the first half.

    Pittsburgh (2-3) lost its third in a row and suffered its first road loss. But the Steelers found at least some of their missing offense.

    Kordell Stewart, who went into the game with one touchdown pass and 11 interceptions in his last eight starts for a rating that left him near the bottom of the AFC, completed 21 of 29 passes for 21 yards, including touchdowns to Hines Ward in the first quarter and to Troy Edwards in the second.

    "It was better," said Stewart, who threw an interception with the Steelers trailing 17-14 late in the third quarter to kill an impressive drive from the Pittsburgh 6. "But if there's one thing I'd like, it's to have that throw back."

    The Steelers made it close when Bills cornerback Thomas Smith was called for pass interference on Will Blackwell in the end zone late in the game. Three plays later, Jerome Bettis plowed in from the 1 to make it 24-21 with 2:44 to play.

    "Offensively we were much improved," Bettis said. "We did some good things out there."

    But the Bills turned to running back Jonathan Linton to run the clock out from there. Linton pumped some life into an anemic running game, taking over in the clutch for struggling Antowain Smith, who fumbled the ball away on his first carry and was never a factor.

    "Don't read anything into this," Linton said. "Antowain is still the starting tailback, and I'm still the third-down back."

    Pittsburgh was driving when Bills linebacker Sam Rogers picked off Stewart's pass and returned it 24 yards to the Steelers 38 with 3:42 left in the third quarter.

    Flutie then threw 18 yards to Moulds for a first-and-goal at the 8, and one play later rolled to his right and went back across the field to a wide-open Riermersma for the touchdown and a 24-14 lead with 3:10 left.

    "Perfect timing, perfect call," Flutie said.

    Flutie completed 13 of 17 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, including five to Moulds for 105.

    Antowain Smith fumbled at the Buffalo 12 on the Bills' first play, and Stewart threw 12 yards to Ward for the touchdown two plays later.

    The Bills tied it on a 2-yard toss from Flutie to Gash with 1:47 in the first quarter. Flutie was 6-of-7 for 38 of the 69 yards and ran twice for 17 yards on the drive.

    When Buffalo got the ball back, it took Flutie just two plays to give the Bills the lead. Flutie weathered a blitz to complete an 11-yard pass to Moulds and then connected with Moulds for a 49-yard touchdown.

    "I was guessing he was going to run an out and he ran a post," Steelers cornerback Chad Scott said. "I guessed wrong."

    The Bills drove 79 yards for a field goal by Christie and a 17-7 lead with 4:31 left in the half.

    Stewart threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Edwards with 51 seconds left in the half; Thomas Smith tipped the pass into Edwards' hands in the end zone.

    Notes

  • Bettis, who has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game for the Steelers this season, carried the ball 13 times for 24 yards and one touchdown, a 1.8 average.
  • Rogers' interception was the first of his NFL career
  • The home team has won the last 12 regular-season games in the series
  • Christie missed a 36-yard field goal to fall one point short of 1,000 career points
  • Andre Reed had six catches for 68 yards to pass Art Monk and move into fifth place on the NFL's career yards receiving list with 12,742.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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