Throwback Thursday: Johnson leads Bills to first win of 2001 season


Welcome to Throwback Thursday! Each week, we’ll preview the upcoming week’s game by taking a look back (sometimes WAY back) at a game either of relevance to the week, or something that happened to the day. Hope you enjoy, as we throw it back to Oct. 18, 2001:

In a year in which the Bills bottomed out as a young team going 3-13, there was not a lot to smile about in the 2001 season for this team led by quarterback Rob Johnson and head coach Gregg Williams. But there was something to smile about on this Thursday night when the team headed to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While the Bills were rebuilding with a team that finished 27th in the league in points scored and 29th in points allowed, nobody could really tell with Jacksonville was up to with Keenan McCardell out wide at receiver and Mark Brunell taking the snaps under center.

Brunell would surpass 20,000 yards in this game, but it was not enough as Johnson led a game-winning drive to give the Bills their first win of the season, 13-10.

Johnson led his team 48 yards down the field in 10 plays, taking up 2:51 of game time and Jake Arians buried a 46-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining to give the Bills their lead.

Brunell got the ball with 0:58 left with a chance for a tie, but two plays into the drive, his pass was picked off by Tavares Tillman at the Jacksonville 47 yard line.

After the game, Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin had no words.

“How mindboggling is it for me?” he said. “”I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a low point for me personally, professionally, and every other way.”

Arians missed his first two kicks of the night, going off-target from 41 and 39 yards. But coach Williams kept his faith in him, letting him go back out. He made a 30-yard chip shot with just under three minutes to play in the first half to give the Bills a three-point advantage, and would do the same from 46. Only his last one gave them the permanent advantage.

It was a sloppy game, as neither team could throw for more than 250 yards and neither team accumulated more than 320 yards of total offense.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with Brunell hitting Kyle Brady for a 20-yard touchdown on the first drive of the period. Johnson would answer, leading the Bills 63 yards in nine plays to take the lead back. The drive was capped off by a 27-yard pass to Eric Moulds.

To show you how much the game has changed, both of these guys were pocket passers. This weekend, Blake Bortles and EJ Manuel will be sure to show off their legs across the pond when these two teams meet again. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Yahoo! and will be televised live on CBS in the Buffalo and Jacksonville markets.

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