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SUNDAY BILLBOARD

SUNDAY BILLBOARD
The big picture: The Bills finally put to rest any doubts about their ability to beat good teams on the road by defeating the Giants, 17-13, at Giants Stadium. The victory was a costly one, however. Jim Kelly left the game in the second quarter with a sprained knee and probably is lost for the rest of the regular season. The win lifted the Bills' record to 12-2 and gave them a 1 1/2 -game lead over Miami in the AFC East. The Dolphins host Seattle today.
Dueling backups: Giants quarterback Phil Simms also left the game with an injury. Simms hurt his right foot in the third quarter and Jeff Hostetler finished the game. Simms' injury was diagnosed as a sprained foot.
Play of the game: With the score tied, 7-7, late in the first quarter, the Bills went for it on fourth and less than a yard at the Giants' 15-yard line. Don Smith was stopped cold on the initial hit, but struggled forward to make the first down by half the length of the football. Buffalo then scored to make it 14-7.
Hit of the day: With Buffalo leading, 14-10, midway through the third quarter, rookie J.D. Williams stopped Ottis Anderson for a 1-yard loss on third and one from the Bills 3. The Giants settled for a field goal, making it 14-13.
Quote of the day: Giants center Bart Oates, asked to assess Bruce Smith's play: "Hey, ask him. He's good at beating his own drum. See what he has to say. I can't say anything. They beat us. I'm not going to sit here and say how poorly he did. He'll have him tell you."
Game balls: Talk about hidden costs! General Manager Bill Polian said the Bills gave game balls to all 47 players for their intrepid performance against the Giants.
Unsung hero: Backup quarterback Frank Reich, who played efficient, mistake-free football after replacing Kelly in the second quarter.
As for the theory: Once again, the Bills won despite having fewer rushing plays than the opposition. Buffalo never has lost a game under Marv Levy when it runs the ball more than an opponent. But the Bills won this one without doing it.
Fall of Troy: Giants rookie receiver Troy Kyles figured in two key plays that went the Bills' way late in the game. First, Kyles was whistled for offensive interference to nullify a Giants first down inside Buffalo's 30-yard line. Then he rolled into the end zone while trying to down a punt near the Buffalo goal line, enabling the Bills to begin a crucial, late series from their 20.
Zebra report: The officials initially ruled Kyles had batted the ball before his body reached the end zone. But the call quickly was overruled.
Taylor-made: Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor had two great chances to make a statement to Bruce Smith and the Bills, but flubbed both. Twice the Bills threw passes right into his hands and LT dropped them. He dropped the first one -- an ill-advised screen by Kelly deep -- at the Bills' 15-yard line and would have coasted in for a TD if he had been able to hold on.
Attendance update: The Giants distributed 77,188 tickets, making it the usual Giants Stadium sellout. But 10,295 fans decided not to brave the slick, rainy labyrinth of roads leading into the Meadowlands complex, leaving an in-house attendance of 66,893.
Coming attractions: The one you've all been waiting for . . . The big release of the Christmas season . . . Next Sunday, the Miami Dolphins come north to Rich Stadium for a game that likely will decide the AFC Eastern Division title.

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