1 . . . 2 . . . 3 they're not out Beaten Bills talk of 4th Super trip

February 01, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

PASADENA, CALIF — PASADENA, Calif. -- When it was over -- when the Buffalo Bills had endured still one more Super Bowl setback -- they issued an ominous warning.

They talked about coming back for a fourth straight year. Really.

"It'll be hard to overcome this disappointment," said quarterback Frank Reich after a 52-17 blowout loss against the Dallas Cowboys.

"But if there's any team that can, it's the Buffalo Bills. I believe we'll be the first team to go to the Super Bowl four years in a row."

The Bills matched the Miami Dolphins of 1971-73 by reaching the Super Bowl for the third straight year. But their accomplishment will likely live in infamy, not in honor. Each Super Bowl appearance for the Bills was worse.

They lost to the New York Giants by one point, 20-19, two years ago. They lost to the Washington Redskins by 13 points last year, 37-24. And now there was this 35-point fiasco to deal with. Ugly doesn't begin to describe it.

Buffalo coach Marv Levy didn't have any words of wisdom or consolation for his players afterward.

"I didn't think at this point it would do any good to hear speeches from me," he said.

Now the Bills join the Minnesota Vikings (0-4) and Denver Broncos (0-4) as big-time Super Bowl losers. They have contributed the last three losses in the AFC's nine-year losing streak to the NFC. The Broncos lost three of those games in a four-year period. The Vikings, representing the NFC when the AFC was in power, lost four Super Bowls during an eight-year period.

The Broncos and Vikings both lost Super Bowls in Pasadena, like the Bills.

The AFC has now been outscored by the NFC during the last nine Super Bowls, 349-142.

How do the Bills expect history to treat their record in the NFL's ultimate game?

"To be honest, that's not my No. 1 concern right now," said Reich, the former Maryland quarterback who replaced starter Jim Kelly in the second quarter after Kelly suffered stretched ligaments in his right knee.

Kenneth Davis, who filled in admirably for a gimpy Thurman Thomas (sprained ankle), felt the same way.

"I'm not concerned how history will treat this team," Davis said after rushing for 86 yards. "I'm concerned how we'll treat each other.

"There are 26 other teams that would love to be in the position we are. There's no reason to have our heads down or be dragging."

Despite their domination of the AFC the last three years, the Billsknow they will never receive full credit unless they win a Super Bowl.

"To be classified as a great team, you really do need to win a Super Bowl," said wide receiver James Lofton. "That's the measurement that everyone strives toward in the NFL."

The Bills came into the game riding the crest of their incredible comeback victory over the Houston Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. But they exited just like the last wild-card team that reached the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots.

The Patriots, who advanced as a wild-card team in 1986, were blown out by the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX, 46-10.

The Bills were in the game in the first half until turnovers took their toll. Buffalo set up 35 Dallas points with nine turnovers in the biggest giveaway in Super Bowl history.

Kelly and Reich combined for seven of the nine turnovers.

"We're disappointed we got beat the way we did," Kelly said. "The biggest disappointment is that we had worked so hard over the 16-game [regular-season] schedule and through three playoff games."

Said Reich, "It was a very humbling experience."

Might the Bills come back for a fourth straight Super Bowl?

"Don't ever count us out," Kelly said.

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