Yes, Bills are back, but it could be worse

January 24, 1994|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

OK, you're disappointed that the Buffalo Bills are going back to the Super Bowl. But, wait: Consider the alternative.

Who, with even the slightest hope for a competitive game against those behemoths from Dallas in the Georgia Dome next Sunday, would have wanted the Kansas City Chiefs representing the AFC?

Face it, there's every likelihood the Super Bowl will continue to be what it has been for the past decade -- an NFC walkover, a sequel to bygone days in baseball when the National League used to beat up so consistently on the American League in the All-Star Game.

But what are the Bills supposed to do, take a dive just to satisfy those people who only bother to show up for one game a year, anyway?

It was sort of cute yesterday, the way Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly stood on the sidelines and teased, "We're baaaack," as his team was making short work of Kansas City, a club that, like the guy in the commercial, appeared to leave its game plan on a table in the hall back home.

"Nobody expects us to win," Kelly added, "so we'll just show up and have some fun . . . and what happens, happens."

The hope, of course, is that the Bills play as solidly as they have been during the playoffs and that, somehow, a lot of the early breaks go against the Cowboys and it remains a game for a couple of hours.

That, according to Buffalo's special teams demon, Steve Tasker, is what Super Sunday is all about: "That's the game everyone watches. And if it's not a good game, people get mad and blame us." Which is understandable, because no one likes a party pooper.

Off the conference championship results, it would appear the viewing faithful are owed a good game for a change, as the action was even more one-sided than Buffalo's 30-13 destruction of K.C. and the 38-21 dismantling of San Francisco by Dallas.

NBC tried mightily to suggest the Chiefs were dangerous throughout, citing Joe Montana's accomplishments ad infinitum. But that was back in the '80s, back when Joe used to throw the ball downfield, not pitch it forward about 5 yards and hope for a big run out of one of his receivers.

"Super Joe, save us from Buffalo," was the often-heard plea, to which Montana's answer was a 3-for-14 start in the passing department.

Worse, completely bottled up, the Chiefs were not forthcoming with any kind of adjustment offensively and, it wasn't until halftime that studio commentator Joe Gibbs provided suggestions. Just what it is analyst Bob Trumpy thinks he's supposed to provide is anyone's guess. As for the K.C. coaching staff, they drew a blank, obviously.

No one said it -- after all, the guy is almost a deity -- but it wasn't until Montana went out with a head injury that the Chiefs made any kind of splash. Backup Dave Krieg, at least, threw the ball downfield.

Unfortunately for CBS, doing its last game for at least four years after a 38-year association with the NFL, it didn't have much to work with, so dominant were the Cowboys.

But one sequence, late in the game and featuring nonpareil announcers John Madden and Pat Summerall, pointed up just how good these guys have been together over the years. As a picture of Dallas' of fensive coordinator, Norv Turner, flashed on the screen, Madden said, "Norv's looking at something he calls 'Bernie's List.' "

The two men then explained how, during the week, backup quarterback Bernie Kosar prepared a list of plays he thought would be successful against the next opponent. With Kosar in the game, Madden said, "They're probably working that list right now."

Out of the huddle came the Cowboys. The 49ers were in a blitz and Kosar fired a slant-in pass to a wide receiver. "[Alvin] Harper's gone," Summerall said in his usual succinct fashion. Beautiful.

To its credit, CBS did not get overly mushy as its final telecast drew to a close, the lead announcers continuing to stress that through all the years the game had always been the thing.

"We haven't got football at CBS," Madden said, "but we've got the memories."

And he'll have football, too, as he inks a contract with Fox network this week for quarterback-type money ($30 million for four years).

NBC has the Super Bowl, and a fervent wish is that Dick Enberg eases off on the flowery opening he introduced yesterday's game with.

"Each is sieged by shades of the same dream," is how the usually reserved play-by-play man started. "Some seek to destroy nightmares . . . erase the memories that plague him . . . about to meet with unkind reality" were just a few of the phrases in what sounded like the death scene in "Hamlet."

Imagine if earlier rumors had proven true and Madden had ended up in the NBC booth with Enberg doing his "big ol' hogs snorting around in mud" routine whenever Joe Jacoby showed up on camera.

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