Bills turn over a new page as Super bad team Buffalo's generosity isn't lost on champion Cowboys

February 01, 1993|By John Steadman | John Steadman,Staff Writer

PASADENA, Calif. -- All that three trips to the Super Bowl have accomplished for the Buffalo Bills is monumental embarrassment and an almost unprecedented record for self-disgrace. They deserve to be criticized and even pitied.

Total ineptness has become their calling card. The owner of the club, Ralph Wilson, shouldn't be made to suffer the anguish nor do the good citizens of Buffalo.

Three straight occasions the Bills have bid for the coveted prize and gone away empty. If there's ever a "next time" for Buffalo, they ought to defer to another representative of the American Conference and beg to stay home. And they might even consider giving back the $18,000, or turning it over to their favorite charities, as their end of the financial payoff.

A dreadful three-in-a row loser, which means this is the first time it has happened to any team in Super Bowl history. If this could be correlated to failures in love and marriage, they'd be challenging Tommy Manville and Artie Shaw.

The Bills were bad, bad, bad and, what's even more depressing, have gotten progressively worse in their past three visits to what is supposed to be the National Football League's showcase game.

The automatic question that evolves is were the Bills that bad or the Cowboys that good? Much more of the former than the latter.

For the Cowboys, they accepted the contributions made in their behalf by the woeful Bills, who left an aroma in the Rose Bowl that might require a visit from a fumigation service. They set a record for turnovers -- five lost fumbles and four interceptions.

The Cowboys, led by the game's most valuable player, Troy Aikman, a immensely gifted young quarterback, put the Bills away in a Super Bowl that was another in a series of disappointing presentations for those expecting a performance befitting what is supposed to be the "showcase" of the sport.

The Cowboys were impressive but all they really had to do was wait for the Bills to open the door of opportunity for them. In almost every way known to modern football, the Bills found a way to turn the ball over.

Coach Marv Levy, who wears a Phi Beta Kappa Key, didn't exactly distinguish himself with his decision-making. He ought to be made to stand in a corner, as used to happen in school, and write on the locker room blackboard how sorry he is for his miserable performance.

The Bills, taking a cue from their leader, brought a new meaning to the term self-destruction. Let it be said, without any misunderstanding, that Levy and the Bills were a perfect compliment to each other.

Buffalo got a gift touchdown early, following a blocked punt, to go ahead, 7-0. Then Jim Kelly was intercepted by James Washington and in six plays Aikman reached Jay Novacek with the tying score.

It was still early, but it was the beginning of the end for Buffalo. Kelly bungled the situation no sooner than he got his hands on the ball when he was sacked, fumbled and Jimmie Jones recovered for a touchdown. Just like that, in a matter of 15 painful seconds, the Cowboys had posted two TDs to assume a lead that would only grow to humiliating proportions for the Bills.

A 40-yard gainer from Kelly to Andre Reed had the Bills in position to square the account. They took the ball to the 1-yard line and in two rushes by Kenneth Davis and Thurman Thomas got nowhere. Still they were at the 1, maybe a mere foot away.

On fourth down, Kelly went to the air lanes, threw into traffic on a miserable effort and it was picked off by Thomas Everett for a touchback instead of a touchdown. This was a mere precede of things to come.

The next time, the Bills got possession they went 82 yards in 12 plays, looked good mounting the threat but at the 3-yard line and only a yard for a first down, the call was for Thomas on a misdirection play that consumed time and let the Dallas defense react.

It got nowhere so Steve Christie kicked a field goal. Frank Reich had come on to relieve Kelly, who injured his right knee and was through for the game. But on this day Frank wasn't able to order up a miracle, as he had when he brought the Bills back from a 32-point deficit in an earlier playoff with the Houston Oilers.

While at the University of Maryland, Reich also had rallied his team to the greatest comeback in college football annals when it shocked the University of Miami -- then coached by Jimmy Johnson, who now holds the coaching reins of the Cowboys. Reich had made up a 31-point deficit that time but, even though Johnson was aware of the coincidence, it was never going to be anything more than that.

Reich wasn't any better than Kelly. Each had two interceptions. The Bills' partisans in the Rose Bowl gathering of 98,374 held hope for Reich doing it again but it was too much to ask. The Cowboys were rolling, wouldn't be denied and were dominating the line of scrimmage both ways.

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