The Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins tuned up for the playoffs in markedly different fashion.
Buffalo, already assured of the best record in the AFC, rested its starters through the second half in its season finale Sunday, and the Redskins went into their wild-card game next week with a 29-14 victory over the Bills.
Chip Lohmiller matched a team record with five field goals on a soggy field, and the Redskins intercepted two passes by third-string Buffalo quarterback Gale Gilbert to finish the regular season 10-6.
“We needed this to regroup going into the playoffs,” said Coach Joe Gibbs, whose Redskins won four of their last five games.
Unlike the Bills, the Redskins went with their starters most of the way as they prepared for next week’s game at Philadelphia.
“Nothing was really riding on this game, but it gave us a chance to go out and play for pride,” Gibbs said.
The Bills, ending 13-3 for their best record since 1964, rested quarterback Frank Reich and several other starters in the second half. They lost defensive end Leon Seals because of a sprained knee in the second quarter, but he said he would return for the playoffs.
Buffalo has a week off before starting its playoff run and is hoping quarterback Jim Kelly, who sustained a sprained knee two weeks ago, can return by then.
“When you know what your playoff situation is, you walk on eggs a little bit,” Buffalo Coach Marv Levy said. “But our effort was excellent. We just turned the ball over.”
Besides Reich, Levy rested running back Thurman Thomas, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Bruce Smith and others in the second half.
“We have other things to look forward to,” said Smith, who ended the season with a team-record 19 sacks. “We have accomplished 99.9% of our goals this year.”
Lohmiller kicked field goals of 37, 24 and 19 yards to give Washington a 9-0 halftime lead and added kicks of 43 and 32 yards after Gilbert pulled the Bills to within 9-7.
“The defense gave me the chance to get the points early,” Lohmiller said after tying the team record shared by Curt Knight and Mark Moseley. “If the offense is unable to get points, my job is to get out and get points for them.”
Gerald Riggs, playing for the first time since spraining his left foot Nov. 12, scored on a three-yard run and Mark Rypien threw an 18-yard scoring pass to rookie Stephen Hobbs after Lohmiller’s field goals gave the Redskins a 15-7 lead.
Reich, a loser for the first time in five starts, got Buffalo only as far as the 50 in the first half before giving way to Gilbert.
Gilbert, who last took a snap with Seattle in 1986, threw two touchdown passes in the second half. But his two interceptions set up both Washington touchdowns.
His 23-yard scoring pass to Kenneth Davis got the Bills within 9-7 before Lohmiller kicked two more field goals and the interceptions put it out of reach.
Gilbert finished eight of 15 for 106 yards which included a late 20-yard scoring pass to Steve Tasker.
Thomas, who finished the regular season with 1,297 rushing yards, failed to net any yardage in five carries against the Redskins and lost a fumble that set up Lohmiller’s second field goal.