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LEAST HE CAN DO

Wade Phillips cannot coach his way out of a paper bag, and should resign in disgrace for his outrageous betrayal of the greatest Buffalo Bills quarterback since Jack Kemp, Doug Flutie. Indeed, in Japan, Phillips would be expected at a minimum to abjectly apologize, if not commit ritual suicide.

Rob Johnson is a stumblebum. His idiotic retreat into his own end zone while under a speed rush by Jevon Kearse led directly to Tennessee scoring 9 of its 12 first-half points. Buffalo played catch-up for most of the game.

Let's look at the record: Flutie led the Bills to the playoffs twice in two years of service. Then he was replaced based on Johnson's performance in one meaningless game. That's like saying "Gee Mr. Lincoln, nice job on the Civil War, but we'd like to try Andrew Johnson as Commander-in-Chief."

That master tactician, Wade Philips, forgot that in the final minute of a game, the team trailing and receiving the kickoff will inevitably throw one or more laterals to try to elude pursuit and score. Every football fan older than a school boy recalls Nov. 20, 1982, when the University of California threw five laterals on a kickoff return on the final play of the game, and scored a touchdown to beat Stanford, 25-20. Ever since, college and pro teams, when faced with the last gasp, have tried to imitate this strategy.

Indeed, the Bills made a poor and pathetic parody of this play on their last kickoff return. Phillips, so enraptured that Christie made a clutch field goal, forgot to warn his kick-coverage team of the possibility of a lateral -- and suddenly Frank Wycheck became the Kevin Moen of the NFL.

Flutie often doesn't play pretty -- he just finds a way to win. Phillips, Johnson, and that malcontent Andre Reed should be shipped off to Siberia, or some similar place of oblivion. For Flutie, I hope he gets to play for a winner -- which the Bills sadly are not.
RICHARD C. SIPAN
Henderson, Nev.

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