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MONDAY BILLBOARD

The big picture: In the words of that famous former Miami Beach resident, Jackie Gleason, "How sweet it is." Sunday's 24-14 victory over Miami gave the Bills their third straight AFC East title and ensured them of home-field advantage until the Super Bowl. The next home game is Jan. 12 or 13 at Rich Stadium. The AFC title game is Jan. 20. Get those electric socks ready.

Game balls: It will be another tough Monday in the Bills' accounting office. Not only does Ralph Wilson have to pay for two more goalposts, game balls were awarded to the entire team for a second week in a row.

Winning numbers: The Bills are 23-2 at home the last three years. . . . They are 8-0 when Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas both score in a game. . . . Buffalo was inside Miami's 20 four times and got three TDs and a field goal. For the season, the Bills have scored on 53 of 59 trips inside the 20, with 38 TDs.

Bailing out: As any Bills fan will tell you, Dan Marino wouldn't hang in the pocket and take a sack to save his Isotoners. Marino is the NFL's least-sacked QB. But the Bills sacked him three times, the most takedowns of Marino since a September 1988 game against the Colts. The Bills also had an unofficial four "hurries" the first three quarters and a couple more in the fourth.

Signs: As expected, there were dozens of the "Squish the Fish" variety. The most interesting may have read: "What's the major difference between Dan Marino and Marilyn Chambers?" Unfortunately, the punch line was obscured by fans sitting in their seats the whole game. Chances are it may not have been printable in a newspaper anyway.

Unsung heroes: How about Clifford Hicks and Rick Tuten? Hicks, signed as a free agent four weeks ago, had a big interception late in the first half, picking off a Marino pass intended for Mark Clayton at the Bills' 6. Hicks had a sack in his first game against the Colts. . . . Tuten punted four times for a 42.8-yard average and had a big 50-yarder when backed up in his own end zone late in the first half.

Hit of day: Hal Garner leveled Miami's Marc Logan on a kickoff return in the third quarter.

Off the hook: Bills safety John Hagy was flagged for unnecessary roughness after clotheslining Miami's Tony Martin on an incomplete pass. It kept a Miami drive alive in the first quarter but did not lead to any points. Miami kicker Pete Stoyanovich missed a 28-yard chip shot four plays later. It was Stoyanovich's first miss inside the 30 in 16 tries in his career.

Zebra watch: Referees correctly reversed a pass completion from Marino to Tony Paige in the first quarter. Paige was out of bounds. Miami, the least-penalized team in the league (averaging only four flags for 30 yards a game), was flagged five times for 33 yards. Buffalo made 14 penalties for 95 yards.
Top five reasons Bills fans enjoy beating the Dolphins: 5.) Love seeing Don Shula seethe. 4.) It's 82 degrees in Miami. 3) Still have nightmares of Don Nottingham and Norm Bulaich. 2) 0 for the '70s. 1) Home-field advantage.
Attendance update: Bills fans once again showed fair-weather ducks in places like Miami what true fandom is all about. There were only 198 no-shows, and an in-house record of 80,235 (breaking the mark of 80,208 set at last year's Miami game). The season total is 621,549, better than last year (619,714) and just shy of Buffalo's NFL record total of '88 (622,793).

Up next: The main concern of Bills fans next week will be to see no Bills get hurt in their regular-season finale at Washington. The game means nothing to the Bills as far as the playoffs are concerned.

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