After his conservative game plan backfired in a loss to San Diego last week, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren decided to turn quarterback Jon Kitna loose against Buffalo on Sunday.
Kitna responded by passing for two touchdowns and Todd Peterson kicked four field goals to lead the Seahawks to a 26-16 victory. Kitna, in his first full season as the Seahawks starter, helped his team move into a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West.
"We came into this game with the idea that we'd be a little less conservative and we'd throw the ball around," said Holmgren, Seattle's first-year coach. "I think Jon had a pretty good game. He felt as bad as anybody did last Sunday."
In last week's 13-10 loss to the Chargers, Kitna didn't complete a pass over 25 yards. Against the Bills, he had four completions over 25 yards, including a 43-yard TD pass to Derrick Mayes.
With Galloway still holding out in a bitter contract dispute that threatens his entire season, Kitna made Mayes his top target. Mayes caught six passes for 105 yards and two scores.
"Hopefully, coach is getting more confidence in me," said Kitna, who was 13-of-21 for 190 yards and two TDs in the first half when the Seahawks took a 23-3 lead.
Peterson kicked field goals of 40, 21, 42 and 34 yards for the Seahawks (4-2), who grabbed a share of first place in the division with the Chargers and Kansas City.
"This feels better than it did last week," Holmgren said. "The confidence is building here for the players."
Mayes was acquired in a trade from Green Bay, Holmgren's old team, on Aug. 30 for a seventh-round draft choice. He is Seattle's leading receiver this season with 25 catches for 393 yards and four touchdowns.
"Jon made very good throws to me," Mayes said of his TD caches Sunday. "All I had to do was catch it."
Said Kitna: "They brought him in here to play. Derrick just gets open and the guy has unbelievable hands. I just try to get it in his area."
The Bills (4-3) lost for the second week in a row following a four-game winning streak.
"We woke up after being slapped around for two quarters," Bills strong safety Henry Jones said.
"It was a terrible first half," said Buffalo coach Wade Phillips. "And it cost us the ball game."
Seattle built a 20-point halftime lead, but Doug Flutie rallied Buffalo in the second half. After a 45-yard completion to rookie Peerless Price, Flutie threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Riemersma with 7:32 left to cut Seattle's lead to 26-16.
But Flutie, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday, committed his third turnover of the game when he was sacked by Michael Sinclair and fumbled. Sam Adams recovered for the Seahawks on the Seattle 45 with 5:10 to go.
Buffalo's Steve Christie kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the opening half after Flutie completed a 36-yard pass to Kevin Williams the Bills' longest offensive play of the first half.
Seattle's Ahman Green returned the opening kickoff 54 yards to the Buffalo 38. Five plays later, the Seahawks scored a touchdown on Kitna's 7-yard pass to Mayes.
Kerry Joseph's interception of a pass by Flute set up Kitna's second touchdown pass to Mayes with 7:36 left in the second quarter.
Flutie passed 18 yards to Price for a touchdown with 1:59 left in the third period to cap a 15-play, 84-yard drive that consumed 7:04. That cut Seattle's lead to 23-9.
On the ensuing kickoff, Christie recovered his own onside kick on the Buffalo 42, but the Bills went three-and-out and had to punt.
Peterson's 34-yard field goal gave Seattle a 26-9 lead with 10:02 left.
Flutie was 24-for-50 for 294 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. He also was Buffalo's top rusher with 48 yards on five scrambles.
"We had him dead to rights three or four times and he got out of there," Holmgren said. "He's an amazing athlete. He's a very, very scary guy to play against."
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