Doug Flutie ran for two crucial first downs, passed with accuracy and, when he needed to, scrambled from the pocket and made something out of nothing. Yesterday's performance was indeed vintage Flutie, whose Buffalo Bills carved up the Redskins' defense en route to a convincing 34-17 victory at Redskins Stadium.
Flutie was, without a doubt, the Bills' most important player. He racked up 211 yards in completing 16 of 22 passes, including two touchdowns, and rushed for 40 yards more. And while those numbers are impressive, they don't tell the whole story. Flutie also made several critical plays that did not show up on the postgame stat sheet.
"To be perfectly honest," Flutie said, "I did the same things today that I've been doing the last three weeks. Just today people were getting open, which made things a little easier being able to run the football. It makes a difference in the offense--instead of trying to force the ball in, I've got either open receivers or I can pull the ball back and move or do something else."
Of all the magnificent plays he made yesterday, one play in particular summed up what Flutie meant to the Bills' attack.
Here is how it unfolded: Late in the second quarter, the Bills were faced with a fourth down and five on the Redskins 23-yard line. Because of high winds, a field goal was out of the question. So the Bills went for it.
Flutie, who at 37 is still one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, dropped back and took a long look downfield, but all of his receivers were covered and the Redskins defense was closing in. Flutie sidestepped one tackler, then ran to the right toward the line of scrimmage, where he faked Redskins defenders Dana Stubblefield and Sam Shade so badly they collided.
With those two out of the way, Flutie made his way down the field, collecting eight yards and an important first down. That set up a Bills touchdown and a 17-10 lead.
"It was time to move," Flutie said of his fourth-down scramble. "I started to run up in there and I saw a defensive end in the corner of my eye so I had to avoid him and backtrack a little around the corner. Normally I wouldn't have made the cut, but because it was fourth down, I had to take a chance."
"He's elusive," Bills defensive end Bruce Smith said about Flutie. "I'm glad I'm not on the other side trying to stop him. He shook me a couple of times in training camp. You have to play disciplined when you're playing against him. He can be your worst nightmare."
Flutie, who had struggled in the Bills' previous three games, and the Buffalo offense were aided yesterday by the return of Eric Moulds, the Bills' Pro Bowl wide receiver who had missed the previous two weeks with a strained hamstring. Having a deep threat such as Moulds back in the lineup kept the Redskins' defense honest. It also changed the defensive scheme because the Redskins rotated extra coverage toward Moulds, who caught a touchdown pass in the third quarter to put the Bills ahead 31-10.
The extra attention created more room for Flutie and running backs Antowain Smith and Jonathan Linton, who combined for 164 yards on the ground.
"What can you say about Doug?" Linton said. "He's like a mini Hercules out there."