Buffalo expects warm reception for Chiefs

January 23, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A warming trend made Buffalo seem almost balmy yesterday. Thankful as residents here are, that change in weather might dilute the Bills' home-field advantage for today's AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Game time temperature at Rich Stadium is expected to be in the low 30s, with 10- to 15-mph winds. Snow flurries are predicted, but they're expected to end before kickoff.

That forecast is about 30 degrees warmer than for last week's playoff game here, when the Bills froze out the Los Angeles Raiders, 29-23, in the coldest game in club history. The wind-chill factor was minus-32.

Balmy or not, it still represents a threat to Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer.

"I think the only thing that's ever important in those types of conditions is if you get a lot of wind," he said. "That can absolutely affect field position."

Rescued again

For the second straight week, the Bills needed an extension of the NFL's blackout deadline to get the required sellout and allow the game to be televised in Buffalo.

The Buffalo News reported yesterday that approximately 5,000 tickets were purchased by an NFL licensee. That doesn't mean the Bills' fans will be any less fanatical. Rich Stadium seats 80,290.

"It gets pretty loud up there," said Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana, who last played at Rich in 1983 with the San Francisco 49ers.

"They're an active group, sort of like our group [in Kansas City]. They get into the ballgame, and that helps get you motivated. But you try to get them out [of the game] if you can because they've been playing well and there are no depths they can't overcome."

Stopping Thurman

When the Chiefs beat the Bills, 23-7, in late November at Arrowhead Stadium, they held Buffalo to 43 rushing yards and Thurman Thomas to 25 on 15 carries. Schottenheimer said the key was getting ahead of the Bills and dictating play.

"We got into a position of getting a lead on them," he said. "In that circumstance, you've got a chance. They had to make a decision to throw it instead of run it. "My feeling has always been . . . if things start going a bit wrong that they find a way to get the ball in Thurman's hands. His productivity is remarkable."

Asked if there was an area where the Bills have shown great improvement, Schottenheimer said, "I think the quarterback [Jim Kelly] is playing extremely well right now. I cannot believe they are not more than a touchdown favorite."

Here they go again

The Bills, who have gained notoriety in previous Super Bowls for whining about personal slights, may be rounding into form. In the past two weeks, defensive end Bruce Smith has complained about the selection of Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson as the league's defensive MVP.

Smith, who had 13 1/2 sacks during the regular season, and holds the career playoff record of 11, said: "This truly was my best year, overall. I looked at a number of defensive players all year and just haven't seen a defensive player that's had the effect I've had on a consistent basis."

Montana's fine lines

Montana was loose, as usual, in a Friday press conference after arriving in Buffalo. Asked what he would do when his Kansas City contract is up, he said: "I'm going to join Michael [Jordan] with the White Sox."

Of the wobbly passes he threw last week, he said: "I've always had that problem. A guy I played with a long time, Dwight Clark, said that I don't throw tight spirals, I throw tight wobbles."

Miscellaneous

In five career games against the Chiefs, Kelly has averaged 6.97 yards per completion and 231.4 passing yards, but has only six touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. . . . In three career games against the Chiefs, Thomas is averaging 3.5 yards a carry and has not scored. . . . The Bills are making no predictions, but in case they go to their fourth straight Super Bowl, they have taken care of hotel reservations for family and friends.

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