Are the Bills finally due to end NFC's Super spell? Two-time losers make no promises AFC notebook

January 18, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- No sooner had the Buffalo Bills survived their wild-card route to win the AFC championship than they were presented with the next challenge:

L Tackling the NFC's eight-year domination in the Super Bowl.

The Bills (13-5) will rendezvous with the Dallas Cowboys (15-3) Jan. 31 in Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena, Calif. The NFC has won eight consecutive Super Bowls, the past two at the expense of the Bills.

"It's long overdue that the AFC has a champion," defensive end Bruce Smith said after Buffalo's 29-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins yesterday.

"This is very gratifying. My heart was pumping so fast before the game I thought I'd have to see the doctor," said Smith, whose heart was pounding against a cracked rib on one side and bruised ribs on the other.

Asked about his chances, Buffalo coach Marv Levy said, "Fifty-fifty."

Bryan Cox, Miami's emotional linebacker, was one player who voiced his dissent.

"I don't think they will win," Cox said. "I still don't like half of them, but we will see what happens."

The Bills, who have been outspoken in each of their previous Super Bowl experiences, were universally cautious yesterday.

When quarterback Jim Kelly was asked why he thinks the Bills will win, he was abrupt.

"I didn't say I think we'll win," he said. "It's a matter of going out there and trying to play our game."

Another mark for Marino

With a 15-yard touchdown pass to Mark Duper in the fourth quarter, Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino tied Ken Stabler's playoff record for throwing at least one touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games.

The reception was the fifth playoff touchdown catch of Duper's career. He broke a tie with Bruce Hardy and Paul Warfield, who each had four, to become the Dolphins' all-time playoff leader.

Wild card on deck

The Bills became the fourth wild-card team to make the Super Bowl.

Previous wild-card entries were the 1985 New England Patriots, the 1980 Oakland Raiders, and the 1975 Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys went as a wild-card team, but did not have to play an extra game. The wild-card game was added to the playoff format in 1978. Only the 1980 Raiders won the NFL championship as a wild-card team.

You said it

The Bills, who lost the Super Bowl two years ago when Scott Norwood missed a last-second field goal, will head into the NFL title game with a red-hot kicker this time.

Steve Christie made five of six field goals for the Bills to tie an NFL playoff record for most field goals made in a game. He hit from distances of 21, 33, 21, 31 and 38 yards.

Christie left Tampa Bay and joined Buffalo as a free agent before the season. In one year he's gone from being a part of the NFL's losingest team of the past decade to assuming a vital role for one of the most successful clubs of recent years.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Christie said. "It may even take until after the Super Bowl."

"What can I say?" said Christie. "Wow!"

Just visiting

Before yesterday, the home team had won the last five AFC championships, nine of the last 12, and 14 of the last 17. The last team that won an AFC title game on the road was the 1986 Denver Broncos, who beat the Cleveland Browns, 23-20, in overtime.

Just bein' Bruce

In five previous games against Miami's All-Pro left tackle Richmond Webb, Bruce Smith had just one sack. Yesterday he had 1 1/2 . He set up Buffalo's first field goal with a sack and a forced fumble.

"They just don't give me my just due," Smith added. "My stats are not great against the Miami Dolphins, but people don't realize I'm turning other people loose. If I have to sacrifice myself to get somebody else a one-on-one block, that's OK, as long as we win the game."

Miscellaneous

The Dolphins fell to 5-2 in AFC championships and the Bills improved to 3-1. The AFC championship started in 1970. . . . Miami coach Don Shula is the second winningest coach in NFL history, but is only 4-12 against Levy overall, 0-2 in the postseason. . . . Shula's career playoff record is 18-15. With the Dolphins, he is 16-12. . . . Pete Stoyanovich kicked a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter that was the sixth-longest in playoff history. The Dolphins kicker also has the longest postseason kick with a 58-yarder against the Kansas City Chiefs on Jan. 5, 1991.

On the wild side

The Bills became the fourth wild-card team to reach the Super Bowl. Previous teams to do it (wild-card team's score in Super

Bowl first):

Yr. .. .. Team .. .. .. S.B. result

'75 .. .. Dallas ... .. 17-21, Pitt.

.. .. Oakland .. .. 27-20, Phila.

.. .. N. England .. 10-46, Chicago

Not after a three-peat

The Bills will try to avoid becoming the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls when they face the Cowboys in two

weeks. The overall losingest Super Bowl teams:

Denver .. .. .. 0-4 Minnesota .. .. 0-4 Buffalo . .. .. 0-2 Cincinnati . .. 0-2

Third time a charm?

The Buffalo Bills will be playing an NFC East team in the Super Bowl for the third straight time. How they fared in the previous two title games:

Year Opp. .. .. .. .. Result

1992 Washington .. .. L, 37-24

1991 N.Y. Giants . .. L, 20-19

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