Share this article

print logo


At least the Buffalo Bills put some entertainment into their season-ending 31-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Of course, it wasn't the kind of entertainment they had in mind. It was more like the Three Stooges' variety.

The Bills closed their season at 6-10 Saturday in a game filled with gaffes.

From the opening kickoff -- which the Packers returned for 40 yards -- to well into the the fourth quarter -- when Bills tight end Lonnie Johnson blindly ran into the hardest hit of the Bills' season -- it was a game that left Bills fans not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

That's exactly how Steve Tasker felt. The Bills' great special teams star ended his 13-year career in ignominious fashion. He got kicked out -- in his final game! -- just 1:37 in for bumping an official while arguing after the Packers scored a touchdown on a muffed punt.

"It was sad . . . but I kind of had to laugh," admitted Tasker.

For the record, nobody lost their helmet.

"We've got a long way to go, but we intend to do it fast," said a dour Bills coach Marv Levy.

Indeed, the Bills saw how far they are from the defending Super Bowl champions (13-3).

The Bills finished one rung above the basement, in fourth place in the AFC East. Their record is their worst since they went 4-12 in 1986.

They will draft somewhere between seventh and 10th in the first round next April.

Here's a rundown of the "Believe It Or Not!" plays that helped send the Bills to their sixth loss in their final seven games:

Tasker, lined up as the return man, let the Packers' first punt of the game bounce at the Bills' 6. But the Bills' Ray Jackson, a blocker on the play, got too deep, and the ball bounced off his back and into the arms of the Packers' Tyrone Davis, who was in the end zone, for a touchdown.

"All I was thinking about was not hitting Steve," said Jackson. "I thought he might be catching it and I was trying to get out of the way."

Chris Mohr had the first blocked punt of his seven-year Bills career in the third quarter. Packer linebacker Seth Joyner overpowered Bills blocker Manny Martin and Mohr never had a chance.

It was the capper to a disastrous season for the Bills' special teams units.

Trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Bills' offense finally made a big play. Quarterback Alex Van Pelt threw a perfect, 50-yard touchdown pass to Quinn Early.

Wait a minute. There was a penalty. Guard Corbin Lacina was called for illegal hands to the face.

"It's like a dagger in the heart," Early said.

Bills rookie defensive end Marcellus Wiley had a sure touchdown when he picked up a fumble by Packers backup quarterback Steve Bono. (John Holecek forced it with a blitz and a sack.)

But after running 15 yards to the Packers' 30, Wiley dropped the ball. He still had time to go back, pick it up and run to the Packers' 5. Antowain Smith scored on the next play for the Bills.

Johnson had an eventful day for the Bills, which included penalties for a false start, holding and pass interference. He capped it on a fake punt from the Bills' 46 in the fourth quarter.

Mohr threw him a perfect pass. Johnson caught it, took three steps and looked backward at a Packer pursuer. However, he forgot that Packer punt returner Darren Sharper was closing on the play. He also was holding the ball with one hand, not tucked in.

Sharper leveled him with a wicked blow, and sure enough, Johnson fumbled. Fortunately for the Bills, they recovered and went on to score a touchdown.

"I didn't see anything but green grass ahead of me, but I overlooked the opponent's jersey," Johnson said.

Darick Holmes actually was the primary receiver on the play, but he was covered.

"I thought the punt returner had supported on the outside to get Darick, and I was looking at the guy chasing me."

In between the hijinks, the Packers marched to victory.

Quarterback Brett Favre was brilliant, hitting 12 of 18 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns in two quarters of work.

"That guy is something else," said defensive end Phil Hansen. "He makes that whole team good all by himself."

Favre hit Antonio Freeman on a 4-yard scoring pass and Davis on a 2-yarder to give the Pack a 21-0 halftime lead.

The sellout crowd of 60,108 at Lambeau Field saw Green Bay go up, 24-0, before the Bills rallied.

Touchdown runs of 5 and 1 yard by Antowain Smith pulled the Bills within 24-14 with 11:24 left.

But then Van Pelt was hurried by a blitz and threw a pass over the middle that was picked off by Sharper and returned 20 yards for a touchdown.

In the locker room afterward, there were two predominant opinions.

"We gotta get some help, no if ands or buts about it," said Bruce Smith.

"Most of all, the players on this football team are just happy to get this season finally over," said Thurman Thomas.