Turnovers and sacks. Those were two ingredients for the Dallas Cowboys when Jimmy Johnson coached them to victories over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII.
Johnson's Miami Dolphins used the same formula for Sunday's 21-7 upset of the Bills at Rich Stadium. The Dolphins had seven sacks and forced four turnovers, including an interception returned 91 yards by Terrell Buckley.
"Those were great plays by our guys. Don't take anything away from our guys," Johnson said.
In Super Bowl XXVII, Johnson's Cowboys took it away nine times, including two fumble returns for touchdowns, and had four sacks. In Super Bowl XXVIII, they had four takeaways, including another fumble return for a score, and added one sack.
The Bills were supposed to be the team with the big pass rush. Sunday, it was no contest.
Besides dropping Jim Kelly for seven losses, the Dolphins forced him into a crucial intentional-grounding penalty which ended up costing Buffalo the tying touchdown.
"The pass rush was a big, big key today," Johnson said.
Veteran left end Trace Armstrong, who supposedly was in Johnson's doghouse because of his poor play, had 2 1/2 sacks to lead the onslaught against Kelly.
Kelly looked slow and rusty after missing the last two games, but Armstrong said that was not on the minds of the Miami defensive linemen coming into the game.
"No, we didn't really look at it that way," Armstrong said. "You always feel like pressure (on the passer) is the key. What we really wanted to do was come in and stop the running game and try to get them into second-and-long and third-and-long situations, and we had some success doing that."
Five of the seven sacks of Kelly came on third down. Four of them came in third-and-5 situations or worse.
Kelly lost a fumble when he was sacked on third-and 1 near midfield in the first quarter.
Armstrong was quick to credit the play of defensive tackles Tim Bowens and Daryl Gardener for the big day the Miami front had.
"The whole front played well," Armstrong said. "Everybody was having a good day and it makes it a lot easier."
The Dolphins rotated three defensive ends (Armstrong, Dan Stubbs and rookie Shane Burton) and three defensive tackles (Bowens, Gardener and Norman Hand) with great effectiveness.
The Bills' problems against the Miami defense began on the game's first possession, when rookie linebacker Zach Thomas easily picked off Kelly's throw for tight end Lonnie Johnson.
"What happened was I opened the wrong way and he (Kelly) thought the tight end was wide open and there was a lineman blocking the view," Thomas said. "I just came across and picked it. It felt good -- the first pick in my career and it's on Jim Kelly. So that was even better."
The biggest play the Dolphins made all day was Bowens getting penetration and forcing Kelly to ground the ball on first-and-goal from the 2 with 1:47 left.
"When they had the first and 2," said Thomas, "I was telling everybody, 'They're going to have to earn it.' We've been good on the goal line all year."
"Everybody was saying, 'Somebody's going to make a play; Somebody's going to make a play,' " Armstrong said.
"We just played our hearts out all day long and I think we were confident. We felt good about the situation we were in. They had four plays to get in the end zone (but) we knew somebody would step up and make something happen."