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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Rob Johnson

   (Born March 18, 1973) -- Sometimes one game is all that's needed to launch a professional career. Rob Johnson is proof of that.

   Johnson played his college football at Southern California, climaxing his career with a dominating performance in a win over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. His three years as a Trojan led to his selection in the fourth round of the 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars.

   Johnson sat on the bench for his first two years. Mark Brunnell was the usual starter, but wasn't able to play in the 1997 opener. Johnson started, and went 20 for 24 for 294 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of the great debuts by a quarterback in NFL history.

   The Buffalo Bills noticed. They gave up a first- and fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for Johnson, who promptly signed a five-year contract. A slow start that included injuries sent Johnson to the sidelines, and Doug Flutie took over. Flutie led the Bills to the playoffs, and held his job through 1999's regular season.

   But then for the playoff game, coach Wade Phillips picked Johnson to be the starting quarterback instead of Flutie. The Bills lost to Tennessee.

   Johnson stayed through 2001 before he left the Bills. The veteran went through three different teams as a backup before retiring.

--- Budd Bailey

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