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WILSON, BUTLER TAKE SAME SIDE OF THIS STORY

Ralph Wilson and John Butler may not have much to say to each other, but they agreed on one thing Sunday -- Sunday's contest between the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers was one for the ages.

"It was special, wasn't it?" Wilson said in the Bills' locker room. "The Chargers have a very, very good team. The Bills played extremely hard. I'm proud of them. It was a great game. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose in sports, but I'm really proud of the way the team played."

Butler echoed Wilson's sentiments.

"It was a tremendous football game," the Chargers' general manager said. "The emotions of it all were unbelievable. You get a 10-point lead and you get a coverage breakdown and, boy, Rob (Johnson) finds it, and boom, touchdown. It was just an emotionally packed game. If there was anything to be hyped or built up in this game, I guess it all came through. Two teams just playing as hard as they can. They're great pros, aren't they?"

Much of the pregame hype centered on Wilson and Butler and their well-publicized breakup. Wilson fired Butler with a game to go last season after Butler declined to discuss negotiating a new contract. Butler signed with the Chargers shortly thereafter, prompting Wilson to consider filing tampering charges against the team.

Since then, Wilson has made several negative remarks about Butler, who recently countered by saying he was unfairly singled out for putting the Bills in dire straits with the salary cap.

Neither man wanted to talk about those things Sunday. The game was the only subject on their minds.

"I tell you what was satisfying," Butler said. "It was this whole football team here. They've gone through a lot of distractions, different talk about the Buffalo Bills, things they shouldn't have to be a part of and know about. I'm just so glad they were able to fight through that. They accepted the former Bills to be a part of this football team. Now it's over."

Wilson had high praise for Johnson.

"I thought Rob had the best game he's ever had," Wilson said. "He's limping around playing hard, a gutsy game. He had a terrific game, and so did the rest of the guys. Everybody can be proud of the Bills today."

Wide receiver Peerless Price had a career-high 151 yards and matched a personal best with eight catches against the Chargers.

"Peerless was just phenomenal," wide receiver Eric Moulds said. "I told him on the sideline that he set a standard for himself and that's the way he has to play each week. He does that every week, and it's going to be hard for teams to take double teams away."

Price had a 46-yard grab in the first quarter to set up a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Johnson. But his biggest play came in the fourth quarter after Johnson threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by safety Jason Perry.

Price was guarded by rookie cornerback Tay Cody, who let him go. San Diego free safety Rogers Beckett didn't get over in time and Price was all alone for a 61-yard touchdown.

"We had a double post route on, but the corner was sitting, so I just converted it into a go (route)," Price said. "Rob read what I was doing and the safety sat and Rob threw a great ball."

Chargers defensive end Marcellus Wiley missed the most of the last quarter because of a strained groin muscle. However, he made a huge impact on the game with two sacks. He forced a fumble on one of them, which led to a field goal.

As if playing his old team wasn't enough, Wiley said Bills defensive end Bryce Fisher gave him extra incentive to play well.

"He told me I was overpaid before the game started," said Wiley, who signed a $40 million contract with the Chargers. "That did it there. That put the last little octane in that tank for us. Aw man, that was fun. I've never been to a Super Bowl, but that sure was a fun game to play in."

Former University at Buffalo star Ed Ellis became a hero for the Chargers by blocking a 44-yard field-goal attempt with seven seconds left. He blocked a PAT against the New England Patriots earlier this year.

"(The ball) hit my hand pretty good," Ellis said. "I just gave a little push, the guy (long snapper Dan O'Leary) went back and instead of surging through I decided to jump at the time, and it worked out."
Bills defensive end Phil Hansen reaggravated his right elbow that was dislocated against the Steelers. His status will be updated today.

Johnson hurt his right foot, though it doesn't appear serious.

The Bills' next game, Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts in Ralph Wilson Stadium, has been moved to 1 p.m. instead of 4:15.

The decision was made after a conversation with the NFL and team officials.

"We talked about moving the game to 1 o'clock because it's an easier pull regionally as far as people being able to travel and help us sell some more tickets," said Russ Brandon, the Bills' director of business development and marketing. "The league called us back and said that they could make a switch if we were interested, so (President and General Manager) Tom Donahoe said, 'Let's do it.' "

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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