By Mark Gaughan
It's always a good day in Buffalo when we can reminisce about the Flutie-Johnson era.
The year was 2000. Wade Phillips' Buffalo Bills were riding high on a four-game winning streak and coming off an emotional, 21-17 win at Kansas City. They were 7-4. Another playoff season seemed likely.
Then they went to Tampa and it all fell apart. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Warren Sapp was a member of that Bucs defense. Sapp has written a new book, "Sapp Attack," and he's on a promotional tour for it. Sapp was in studio at New York's WFAN on Monday and did an interview with Mike Francesa.
Late in the interview, Francesa and Sapp were talking about the Saints' bounty scandal. Francesa asked: "Isn't your job always to knock the quarterback out of the game?"
Replied Sapp: "No. We were playing the Buffalo Bills one time and it was Rob Johnson and the backup was Doug Flutie. We sacked Rob about three times in the first quarter. Rod Marinelli [the Bucs' defensive line coach] came over to me on the sideline he looked at me and said, 'Do not knock that man out of this game. Do not knock that man out of this game, Warren!' I said, 'Yes, sir.' ... Hey, when the backup is faster ... We didn’t want to chase that guy ... “
The Bills lost that game, 31-17, as well as three starters (Sam Cowart, Sam Rogers and Keion Carpenter) to injuries. They also gave up a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown that broke the game open. (That was the year the Bills achieved the Negative Grand Slam of Special Teams, ranking last in all four return-coverage categories.) It was the first of four straight losses to complete an 8-8 season, which led to the firing of Phillips and the start of the "Lost Decade."