Chargers 13

(8-6, 3-4 away)

Bills 20

(7-7, 4-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 15, 2002

Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY 

1 2 3 4 T
SD 3 7 0 313
BUF 7 6 0 720

Flutie can't save the day in relief of Brees

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills were prepared for anything -- even Doug Flutie.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Chargers: Is this the game that seals their playoff hopes or do you still give them a shot?
You can't count them out yet. They still could finish 10-6 -- and they could win the division. What was more surprising to me than the loss was Schottenheimer's decision to lift starting QB Drew Brees for Doug Flutie late in the game. Brees has been the starter all year, and I wonder about the effect this will have on him. Will it motivate him or will it get under his skin?

Question on the Bills: Should they retain WR Peerless Price or should they spend that money on defensive players?
The Bills have to find a way to sign Price. Price, WR Eric Moulds and QB Drew Bledsoe have defined the Bills' offense this season. The organization needs to keep them together. Defensively, you can get better with an effective scheme, but it just takes time.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Travis Henry ran for 144 yards and scored two touchdowns, including a 26-yard game-winning run with 52 seconds remaining, sparking the Bills to a 20-13 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

The Bills also got a poised effort from their defense, thwarting any emotional boost the Chargers hoped to get from Flutie's first appearance of the season.

Flutie, who spent three years in Buffalo before being released in February 2001, received a mixed reaction of boos and cheers when he entered the game in place of starter Drew Brees with eight minutes remaining. Even though he set up Steve Christie's 53-yard field goal that tied the game at 13 on his first possession, Flutie was unable to complete the comeback.

"When Flutie came in, I knew we had to stay in our lanes because he can make things happen,'' Bills linebacker London Fletcher said. "He's been a terrific player in this league for a number of years. ... It forced us to be disciplined on the back end.''

Flutie, who finished 3-of-11 for 64 yards, managed just one scoring drive on three possessions. The game ended on Buffalo's 37 when Flutie failing to complete two desperation passes into the end zone in the final 11 seconds, the last one tipped away by Buffalo cornerback Antoine Winfield.

It was a big turnaround from the last time Flutie faced his former team a year ago. He scored the winning touchdown with 70 seconds remaining in San Diego's 27-24 victory.

Sunday's win kept the Bills (7-7) barely alive in the playoff hunt. San Diego (8-6) has lost five of its last seven and faces a critical test when it plays at AFC West rival Kansas City next weekend.

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who hinted days earlier that Flutie might get a chance to play, doused any potential quarterback controversy.

"We will address one issue right at the outset,'' Schottenheimer said. "Drew Brees is our starting quarterback.''

Schottenheimer explained that it was a gut instinct that led him to go with Flutie.

Initially, Schottenheimer thought it was the right move when Flutie hit Curtis Conway over the middle for a 47-yard reception on his first play from scrimmage.

"To be honest, I thought, 'Gee, maybe there is magic in this guy.' I did have that sense,'' Schottenheimer said. "At the outset of this season, we talked about that scenario unfolding at some point in time, and today was that day. Unfortunately, we didn't get the results.''

Flutie is no stranger to quarterback disputes. His three seasons in Buffalo were mired by a divisive dispute with Rob Johnson, who's now a third-stringer in Tampa Bay.

Flutie insisted Sunday he does not want Brees' job.

"Let's set the record straight. Drew's the starter on this team,'' Flutie said. "I'm just thankful to have an opportunity to be a part of this. ... I felt good. I wish I had gotten it out there.''

Brees went 13-of-24 for 148 yards and appeared to have difficulty passing into a sturdy wind blowing in off Lake Erie. LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a 2-yard plunge and finished with 110 yards rushing, the sixth time this season he's broken 100 yards.

Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe went 11-of-33 for a season-low 107 yards but got help from four pass interference penalties totaling 86 yards against the Chargers.

Mike Hollis hit field goals from 36 and 42 yards for Buffalo.

Henry, who's been overshadowed by Bledsoe's passing attack for most of this season, bailed out the Bills with his sixth 100-yard rushing game of season.

"I've been waiting for an opportunity like that all year,'' said Henry, who's 1,312 yards on the season rank sixth in franchise history. "I was able to get a chance to carry the team. The offensive line blocked well and I stepped up to the plate.''

Game notes

Game-time temperature was 36 degrees, making it the 11th coldest game in Chargers history. San Diego, which hadn't played a game in conditions 57 degrees or colder this season, is 3-8 when the temperature is 40 degrees or colder. ... With 3,949 yards passing, Bledsoe broke Jim Kelly's franchise record for most in a season set in 1991.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

sdFG7:00Steve Christie 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 40 yds, 2:20
sdFG5:51Steve Christie 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 5 plays, 53 yds, 1:52
bufFG9:10Mike Hollis 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 50 yds, 2:12
bufFG1:12Mike Hollis 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 17 yds, 1:57
bufTD1:01Travis Henry, 26 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 64 yds, 2:03
bufTD3:17Travis Henry, 4 yd run
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yds, 2:07
Drive info: 7 plays, 64 yds, 2:03
Drive info: 7 plays, 74 yds, 2:07
sdTD3:30LaDainian Tomlinson, 2 yd run
Drive info: 9 plays, 73 yds, 5:28
Drive info: 9 plays, 73 yds, 5:28