Grab your remotes, fans we've been Buffaloed again

January 24, 1994|By KEN ROSENTHAL

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Time to get in shape for the Super Bowl. Fitness freaks, sprint to the TV and dive at the power button. Couch potatoes, grip the remote and work that thumb.

The Beavis-and-Butt-head crowd has two options: The glass ashtray-through-the-TV solution originated by The Who, or the .44 magnum-to-the-screen approach suggested by Bruce Springsteen in "57 Channels."

Hands on your clickers, America.

QVC, ESPN2, C-SPAN . . .

"We're baa-aack," Jim Kelly said.

Jimmy Johnson guaranteed that his Dallas Cowboys would win the NFC championship game. Now that the Buffalo Bills are his Super Bowl opponent, he can guarantee the point spread.

The Bills have lost the past three Supes by increasing margins --one point, then 13, then 35. Naturally, they'll be underdogs to Dallas. In this game, they'd be underdogs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Yes, they put a 30-13 whipping on Kansas City yesterday for the AFC championship. Yes, they're the only team in NFL history to reach four straight Super Bowls. And yes, NBC would be better off next Sunday with a re-run of "Wild Kingdom."

Don't even get started about how Thurman Thomas rushed 33 times for 186 yards yesterday, how Kelly completed 17 passes to six different receivers, how the Bills defense thwarted 11 of Joe Montana's first 14 passes, then knocked him out of the game.

Buffalo has allowed a total of 33 points in the past four AFC title games, and an average of 36 points in the past three Super Bowls.

The plot is the same every year:

Bills romp to AFC championship.

Bills bemoan lack of respect.

Bills get trashed by the NFC.

"We might have fell down to defeat in the last three, but I don't care," Kelly said. "You can't count us out. The people who didn't want us there, sorry. We're not going to lay down. We never have before."

No, they haven't laid down. They've blown last-second field-goal attempts, left their helmets on the bench and committed a Super Bowl-record nine turnovers, but by golly, they haven't laid down.

Coach Marv Levy claimed that his team is as "tough-minded" as any in NFL history, but Las Vegas should set a line on which Bill will crack first under Super Bowl week interrogation.

It might be the game's only interesting bet.

No responsible journalist can argue that this time will be 'N different. Not even the Bills will go that far. They were duly restrained in their post-game remarks yesterday, knowing America takes them about as seriously as the Bobbitts.

Owner Ralph Wilson said it might be "75 or 100 years" before anotherteam wins four straight conference titles -- a truly impressive feat considering that Buffalo always plays the toughest schedule.

Of course, Wilson didn't mention that the Bills could become the first team to lose four straight championship games -- not just in the NFL, but in the history of major professional sports.

"Everyone in our locker room is very proud of what they've accomplished," center Kent Hull said. "But this football team is hungry. It's not satisfied at all. Our goal at the beginning of training camp was not to go to the Super Bowl, but to win the Super Bowl.

"I can remember a few years ago, when this team won its first AFC East title. The locker room went crazy. Today, everyone was saying, 'great game, great game.' But you didn't see any champagne popping. We haven't accomplished anything we haven't in the past. We've got to get over the next hump."

At least the Bills finally get it: Winning the AFC is like winning the NIT. How can anyone fear a conference in which the New York Jets are considered dangerous? How can anyone expect to beat the Bills when they play their home games in the tundra?

zTC Here's a shocker: The Bills are 8-0 in the playoffs at Rich Stadium. At halftime yesterday, the wind-chill index registered a balmy 12 degrees, and the only precipitation was a freezing drizzle.

A gorgeous winter afternoon, by Buffalo standards.

The Chiefs couldn't use the weather as an excuse: They were out-rushed 229 yards to 52, and blew a chance to pull within 20-13 before halftime when Montana threw a certain touchdown pass to Kimble Anders, only to see it dropped and intercepted.

Isn't it always that way for the Bills in the AFC playoffs? They've beaten Montana, Dan Marino and John Elway in the past three title games. But now, they go from the refrigerator to the torture chamber.

Hands on your clickers, America.

The Super Bowl is over.

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