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JOHNSON TAKES LAST LICKS OF PRESEASON ON WAY TO BENCH

Buffalo Bills coach Wade Phillips confirmed Saturday what has been known throughout preseason: Doug Flutie is the starting quarterback.

But Phillips didn't need to make that statement. His actions Saturday night spoke volumes.

Flutie played just one series, leading the Bills to their only touchdown in a 16-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Johnson, meanwhile, got more than his share of game action.

He came in early in the first quarter and played into the third quarter, a stint usually reserved for a backup. He looked reasonably sharp, completing 11 of 16 passes for 91 yards.

"It was good work for Rob," Phillips said. "We're getting ready for the season. We want to get two quarterbacks ready. I said that all along and I just said it again."

However, it wasn't a totally pleasant night for Johnson. He got sacked four times (another was wiped out by a penalty) and knocked down on a few other occasions.

Such punishment is not what you would expect allowed a guy who was listed as a co-starter going into the preseason.

Phillips' decision to give Johnson extensive minutes nearly backfired when he took a helmet on the left hand after being sacked on his final series. Johnson's hand was wrapped after the game, but the injury is minor.

As for the extra duty, Johnson took it in stride.

"I wasn't surprised I played that much," he said. "Doug went down the field and scored so fast, the coaches decided to take him out."

Johnson feels he's had a good preseason, but seems resigned to going into the regular season as Flutie's backup.

"I think the writing has been on the wall for a long time now," Johnson said. "Even if it hasn't been said, Doug's the guy they're going with, so we'll just have to keep working and be prepared when and if my opportunity comes.

"Obviously, I want to be the starter, but only one guy can be No. 1. Doug is the man right now, and I wish him well."

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