In the third quarter of the Bills' 20-19 loss to the Washington Redskins on Friday night, Flutie put on a show. He zipped the ball downfield and threw on the run with uncanny accuracy. He and the second-teamers produced a field goal and might have scored more if he had better blocking and surer hands with him.
"He performed his magic tricks in there," Buffalo coach Wade Phillips said. "With him running it, we went right down the field."
"I was in there with a lot of the second team, so sometimes things aren't picture perfect," said Flutie, who was 5-for-11 for 69 yards and led the team in rushing with 22 yards. "I was having fun. It was a blast."
Otherwise, it was a night of futility for most first-team players. The Redskins' first-stringers got their only touchdown against the Bills' second-team defense. Buffalo's first-stringers didn't crack the end zone.
"We definitely have room to improve," said Buffalo left tackle John Fina, part of a starting offensive line that produced just 24 yards rushing in the first half. "There were some things we did pretty well, but you have to be perfect, and we weren't."
With the exception of Flutie, the players generating the genuine excitement were bottom-of-the-depth-chart reserves in the fourth quarter. The game wasn't decided until Buffalo rookie Jeremy McDaniel caught the ball just out of bounds on a 2-point conversion attempt with 51 seconds left to gie Washington the win.
"During the regular season, certainly we would have kicked an extra point," Phillips said. "I wasn't as worried about the score there, I just wanted to get the game over with."
With Buffalo trailing 20-13 and less than three minutes remaining, first-year quarterback Mike Cawley led a 76-yard drive capped by an 8-yard pass to fourth-round draft pick Bobby Collins before the 2-point try failed.
Collins also had a 3-yard touchdown reception from Alex Van Pelt with 9:01 remaining to tie the game 13-13.
In between, the bottom two running backs on Washington's depth chart spurred an 87-yard scoring drive. Arena Football League veteran Chad Dukes caught four passes for 58 yards and Norman Miller caught a 5-yard pass from Casey Weldon for the touchdown with 3:05 remaining.
Using his starters longer including wide receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell into the fourth quarter Redskins coach Norv Turner again demonstrated a must-win preseason mode fueled by new owner Dan Snyder. Needing the first-team vs. second-team mismatch to get into the end zone, the Redskins put together a 76-yard drive ending with Stephen Davis' fourth-down, 3-yard scoring run to make it 10-6 in the third quarter.
"We got a lot of outstanding things done in the first half," said Turner, whose team held a 2-to-1 time of possession advantage in the first half. "But we have a lot of work to do."
For Buffalo, Johnson lost ground in his bid to overtake Flutie as the No. 1 quarterback. The Bills went three-and-out on three of five possessions with him in the game.
Johnson also threw an interception straight to Redskins' first-round draft pick Champ Bailey deep in Washington territory. His one solid throw of the game, a 35-yard completion to Eric Moulds, led to Steve Christie's 36-yard field goal that opened the scoring in the second quarter.
"There wasn't much there in the running game," said Johnson, who was 5-for-10 for 66 yards. "I thought I was throwing the ball well. I missed on a couple little things here and there."
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