Eric Dickerson considered the final score, then considered what it could have been had Buffalo's bullying Bills been in a scoreboard-bashing mood Sunday afternoon at the Hoosier Dome.
"They could have run that score up as much as they wanted," Dickerson said, pondering Buffalo's 31-7 victory over Indianapolis. "They were very tactful about not running the score up."
Instead of being preoccupied with pouring it on the Colts, the Bills simply went about the task of dismantling them. They piled up 408 yards in total offense while limiting Indianapolis to a season-low 127. Buffalo's pressure-cooker defense set the tone, sacking Colts rookie quarterback Jeff George five times. Four were compliments of Bruce Smith.
When the blowout mercifully ended, the Colts were unanimous in their praise of Buffalo. The Bills left town with an 11-2 record, at least a wild-card berth in the playoffs and Indianapolis' admiration.
"They have a good football team, a lot better than us," said Dickerson, held to 33 yards on 12 runs. "I think they can represent us (the AFC) in the Super Bowl."
George could offer no argument.
"That's the best defense we've faced this year," he said after completing 13 of 25 passes for 93 yards. "I don't think there's anybody who could have beaten Buffalo today. They were on their game."
According to George, the Colts knew they were in for a long afternoon when Buffalo jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead. It grew to 21-0 at the half before Indianapolis mounted a brief rally in the third quarter.
"When you get down and they know you're going to have to throw the ball, it makes their job a lot easier," George said. "They can just tee off. They took us out of our game. They stopped the run and they stopped the pass. It makes it tough when you can't run or pass."
It also makes it tough when you can't keep tabs on Bruce Smith. His four sacks accounted for a minus-33 yards.
"He was on his game today," understated George. "Whenever you have Bruce Smith out there, or (Darryl) Talley or (Cornelius) Bennett, you have to give them their respect and hope they don't kill you."