Chargers' Flutie beats out Johnson, former team


SAN DIEGO (AP) -- With the ball in Doug Flutie's hands, his San
Diego teammates thought they couldn't lose.

The Chargers, trailing by four points in their grudge match
against the Buffalo Bills, knew they were about to win.

Flutie proved there's still magic left in his 39-year-old body,
scoring on a 13-yard dash with 1:10 remaining to give the Chargers
a 27-24 victory Sunday.

"He's not Irish, but he's a leprechaun. He's just that great,"
said defensive end Marcellus Wiley, who like Flutie joined an
offseason migration of former Bills to San Diego. "He's unreal. I
was over there crying because, here we go with this magic, this
drama, and he brought it to us."

The victory wasn't sealed until Ed Ellis blocked Jake Arians'
44-yard field-goal attempt with 7 seconds left. But it was Flutie's
play that kept Buffalo from giving its owner the win he so badly
wanted against a Chargers franchise loaded with ex-Bills.

After the Bills went ahead 24-20 on rookie Travis Henry's 3-yard
run, Ronney Jenkins returned the kickoff 72 yards. Another 13 yards
were tacked on because of a taunting call against Buffalo's Brian

On the first play from scrimmage, Flutie dropped back to pass
but the pocket began to collapse. Phil Hansen got a hand on Flutie,
but he broke free and scrambled toward the end zone, diving in for
the go-ahead score as the towel-waving crowd of 63,698 went wild.

How big is Doug Flutie's smile right now?
Flutie might be the happiest guy between San Diego and Buffalo. What makes it especially sweet for the ex-Bills quarterback is that he was able bring the Chargers back and win it with less than two minutes on a gutty touchdown run. That sort of rubbed it in the Bills' faces a bit.

The Chargers are happy, too -- they've now won two straight after losing two in a row, stretching their record to 5-2.

ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


"I didn't have anything," Flutie said. "All of a sudden I
felt pressure, ducked under it and was still on my feet, and knew
it was time to take off."

After celebrating, Flutie felt relief.

"I'm just glad it's over," he said. "Too many headaches."

Flutie beat his nemesis, Rob Johnson. The two feuded as Bills
teammates for three seasons before Flutie was cut last Feb. 28.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson said last spring that he'd rather beat
the Chargers this year than win the Super Bowl.

Wilson was angry because John Butler surfaced as San Diego's
general manager 17 days after he was fired as Buffalo's GM last
winter. Butler brought four other front-office employees with him
and signed Flutie, Wiley and linebackers Sam Rogers and John
Holecek as free agents.

After the game, Wilson praised Johnson, but downplayed the
grudge-match angle.

"I thought he played the best game he's ever had," Wilson said
of Johnson. "We just came out on the short end. I am not going to
second-guess anything."

Butler was relieved, too.

"The thing I'm glad about now, the Buffalo Bills of the West,
aren't any more. They're Chargers," Butler said. "They came out
here to be Chargers and they've been fighting as Chargers."

Johnson led the Bills (1-5) on a 68-yard drive in the closing
minutes. Henry scored with 1:30 to go, breaking the plane as he lay
on a pile of blockers. Instant replay upheld the call, and the
Bills kicked off with a 24-20 lead.

But there was still enough time for the Chargers (5-2) and
Flutie, who turned 39 on Tuesday.

"There's still something special with that drive to win,"
Butler said about Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner who's in
his 17th season of pro football.

Flutie and Johnson shook hands during the pre-game coin toss.
"It was very professional," Flutie said. "He even made eye

Said Johnson: "We just don't get along personally, that's all.
I respect him professionally."

Wiley, who had two sacks and forced a fumble, called Flutie the
Chargers' `X-factor.'

"I don't care if he's short or if you think he's cocky," Wiley
said, mentioning things that have been held against Flutie. "He's
the man. He went out there today and proved it."

Flutie also threw a touchdown pass, finishing 21-of-33 for 254
yards and no interceptions. Johnson, knocked out of the game
briefly in the third quarter, was 24-of-37 for 310 yards and one
TD, with one interception. He also scored on a 1-yard keeper in the
first half.

Jason Perry intercepted Johnson early in the fourth quarter and
returned it 37 yards for a TD and a 20-10 lead.

Johnson came right back, though, and threw a 61-yard touchdown
pass to Peerless Price to pull the Bills to 20-17.

San Diego's Wade Richey was wide right on a 41-yard field goal
try with 6:36 left.

Game notes
Flutie kept the ball after his run, just his sixth NFL
rushing touchdown. ... Chargers star LB Junior Seau sat out much of
the fourth quarter as a precaution because of a week-old groin
injury. But he returned on Buffalo's final drive. ... Chargers DBs
Rodney Harrison and Ryan McNeil, and RB LaDainian Tomlinson were
injured during the game, but returned.


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