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WITH EVERY other sentence, he stopped to thank someone. He praised his offensive linemen, repeatedly and profusely. He gushed over the coaching, over Kent Hull's blocking calls, over Jim Kelly's impeccable decision-making at the line of scrimmage.Certainly, a lot of other people helped make it happen. But let's face it. This was Thurman Thomas' afternoon, his wond…

A FEW days ago, in the aftermath of the big earthquake, a story appeared in which a Los Angeles resident compared the quake to being picked up off the ground and thrown by Bruce Smith.So it has come to this. Smith is now a metaphor for natural disaster. Almost overnight he has become one of the mass culture's favorite symbols of physical menace and silent, intimid…

Steve Christie is the first to admit that Mother Nature got the better of him last Saturday at Rich Stadium.Hampered by sub-zero temperatures, Buffalo's normally reliable placekicker missed a field-goal attempt and two extra-point tries in the Bills' playoff victory over the Los Angeles Raiders.Christie also knows that the weather, while not as brutally cold as la…

Once things started going wrong for the Buffalo Bills' defense Sunday, it seemed there was nothing that could turn things around.Taking advantage of disastrous Buffalo turnovers and playing with the lead most of the game, the Dallas Cowboys' balanced offense was able to keep the Bills' defense guessing in Super Bowl XXVII.When it was all over, the Cowboys had roll…

Disappointment hung in the air of the visitors locker room at the Houston Astrodome.The Buffalo Bills lost, 27-3, to the Oilers in the regular-season finale, costing themselves the AFC East title and home-field advantage. And they lost Jim Kelly to a knee injury to boot.Head coach Marv Levy walked into the room and immediately began the damage control."As soon as …

If the Buffalo Bills win Super Bowl XXVII today, Frank Reich knows his contributions to the team this year will take on even greater significance."This has been a thrill for me," the Bills' backup quarterback said this week. "I have felt a part of each of the past two Super Bowls. But I just hope this one turns out different from the others."Reich spent a great pa…

The Miami Dolphins' young, improved defense could not contain the No. 1 rushing team in the NFL Sunday.The Buffalo offensive line paved the way for 182 rushing yards in the Bills' 29-10 victory. That was the most allowed by Miami this year. Miami ranked sixth in the league in run defense, allowing 95 yards a game. It also was the third most by the Bills in their p…

More satisfaction. Less celebration.That's how the Buffalo Bills summed up their emotions after winning their third straight AFC championship Sunday."It's so much more gratifying because of the way we had to do it this year," said receiver Don Beebe after the Bills' 29-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins. "To have the greatest comeback ever and then to get two wins…

They'd go right back out there today if they had to. Bruce Smith would patch up his ribs, and Cornelius Bennett would loosen up his sore hamstring, and Darryl Talley would run around the locker room, urging them on like some twisted TV evangelist.But it's probably better that the Bills defense has two weeks to get ready for the Super Bowl. After allthey've gone th…

Frank Reich was not the only reliable backup to come through for the Buffalo Bills Sunday.Running back Kenneth Davis relieved Thurman Thomas early in the second half and gave the Bills his usual solid performance. Davis carried 12 times for 64 yards in the second half and finished with a team-high 68 rushing yards.Thomas reinjured the hip pointer he suffered in la…

In the first half of Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game, the Buffalo Bills' defense looked like it usually does against the Houston Oilers -- clueless. Only this was worse than usual.But after yielding 284 yards and 28 points the first 30 minutes, the Bills found their defensive bearings at halftime and allowed just 145 yards and three points the rest of the game…

The last time I had lunch with Bill Hoyt, he'd finally recovered from the drubbing he took in the mayoral primary. It was in the 38th Floor restaurant of the Marine Midland Center, a favorite Hoyt hangout. As he sat down I pointed to the view, which seemed to encompass a good half of the city. "Just think," I said, "all this could have been yours." He laughed with th…

Get pressure on Mark Rypien and don't get beat by the long pass.Those were two top priorities of the Buffalo defense entering Super Bowl XXVI.They had limited success on the first count, but not enough to keep from failing on the second in the 37-24 loss to Washington.Rypien completed four passes of longer than 30 yards, and three of them helped produce Washington…

Ralph Wilson has been in the game for half his life, and no one wants more desperately to see Buffalo walk off the field as Super Bowl champions.But having been around football for so many years, the Bills' owner also knows when to accept what he sees with his own eyes. In Super Bowl XXVI, he saw his beloved Bills beaten by a decisively better team."I told the pla…

Everyone more or less agrees on one thing. In the locker room just before the start of a Bills game, you don't want to get too close to Leonard Smith.Healthy or not, no one gets emotionally prepared for a football game as Smith does. You can't touch the guy. Literally. Guys have been known to brush up against Leonard before a big game and disintegrate on contact. …