In battle of QBs, Aikman passes muster Kelly adds injury to insult of 0-3

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

PASADENA, CALIF — PASADENA, Calif. -- Jim Kelly found his place in NFL history yesterday. The Buffalo Bills quarterback hadn't planned on it being football purgatory, though.

Move over, Fran Tarkenton and John Elway. You've got company.

Kelly joined their infamous 0-for-3 Super Bowl quarterback club in a devastating 52-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Rose Bowl.

In addition to the insult of the Bills' third straight Super Bowl loss, Kelly was forced to endure a painful injury. When Dallas linebacker Ken Norton hit his right knee on a second-quarter blitz, the night was over for Kelly.

Stretched ligaments may have spared Kelly even worse humiliation, though. On a night when the Bills were guilty of a Super Bowl-record nine turnovers, he contributed three. He was intercepted twice -- once on a terrible pass on the Dallas goal line -- and lost a fumble on a blind-side hit that was immediately turned into a Cowboys touchdown.

His successor, Maryland's Frank Reich, had an equally abysmal night, throwing a pair of interceptions and losing two fumbles. Also, a fumble of his was returned for a touchdown.

"You say why, why did it have to happen like this to us?" Kelly said as he leaned on crutches outside the Buffalo locker room.

In Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and the Cowboys, Kelly has thrown for only two touchdowns and been intercepted six times.

He not only tied Elway of the Denver Broncos and Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings with his 0-3 Super Bowl record, but he also kept the famed Class of 1983 winless in eight Super Bowl appearances.

The Bills (14-6) had used a gift touchdown to take a 7-0 lead when Steve Tasker's blocked punt set up a 2-yard touchdown run by ThurmanThomas.

Then the turnovers started. On the next possession, with the Bills up 7-0, Kelly was intercepted at the 40, and the Cowboys quickly cashed in a tying touchdown.

On his next play, Kelly was hit by defensive end Charles Haley, who normally pass rushes from the right side but this time came from the left.

The ball squirted into the air, was tipped by Leon Lett and caught by Jimmie Jones at the 2. Jones scooted into the end zone and the Cowboys had a 14-7 lead.

The next series may have turned the game for good. Kelly hit Andre Reed for a 40-yard gain to the Cowboys' 4. Carwell Gardner ran to the 1 on first down. But first Thomas, and then Kenneth Davis, were stopped for no gain.

On fourth-and-one, the Bills eschewed an automatic field goal and went for the tying touchdown. The play ended in disaster.

Kelly sprinted right with the snap, then tried to throw back toward the middle of the field -- into a crowd -- where he had two potential receivers, Pete Metzelaars and Gardner.

But it was safety Thomas Everett who came down with the ball, and the Bills reeled away from the goal line empty-handed.

"I saw Pete and Carwell," Kelly said. "It was a matter of throwing it up. But the other guy came down with the ball."

Said Bills coach Marv Levy of the fourth-and-one call: "We felt we had a good chance to make it. There was less than a yard to go, is what they told me. We went for it and didn't succeed."

Kelly left the game during the next series, when the Bills had to settle for Steve Christie's 21-yard field goal after reaching the Dallas 3.

In the space of 18 seconds at the end of the half, the Cowboys' lead went from 14-10 to 28-10 on a pair of Troy Aikman-to-Michael Irvin touchdown passes. The second one came moments after Thomas lost a fumble at the Buffalo 18.

The Bills committed five turnovers in the first half, and the Cowboys turned them into 21 points. For the game, the `f Cowboys scored five touchdowns off turnovers.

Reich got the Bills within 31-17 on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Don Beebe on the last play of the third quarter.

When the Bills forced a Dallas punt on the next series, there were visions of another miraculous Buffalo comeback. But they were shortly dismissed.

On third-and-10 from the Buffalo 12, Reich badly missed a wide-open James Lofton on an out pattern.

"The ball came off my hand funny," Reich said. "It slid out of my hand. They got a quick touchdown after that. That hurt."

Reich completed 18 of 31 passes for 194 yards.

"As happy as I felt after the comeback against the [Houston] Oilers, I feel that disappointed now," Reich said.

Handing it over

B6 Buffalo's turnovers in the past three Super Bowls:

.. .. .. .. TOs.. .. .. .. Result

XXVII.. .. .. .. 9.. .. .. .. Lost, 52-17

XXVI .. .. .. .. 5 .. .. .. .. .Lost, 37-24

XXV .. .. ... .. 0 .. .. .. .. Lost, 20-19

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