He felt fine until the last minute of the first quarter. Lined up in man coverage against Reed at the K.C. 25, Pearson mis-stepped on a Reed fake at the line and then ate his dust downfield. A perfect Kelly spiral dropped into Reed's hands near the goal line, and the Bills were ahead 7-0. Still, the Chiefs left Pearson on single coverage with Reed, preferring to stick with its plan of trying to stop Thomas by assigning a safety and a linebacker to keep an eye out for him on passing downs. What a fatal mistake. Two Buffalo possessions later, with two linebackers blitzing and a safety playing up in case Thomas ran a short route, Reed blew past Pearson to the post and cradled another perfect pass from Kelly to make the score 14-0. "They're so tough to defend," Pearson said. "They nickel and dime you, nickel and dime you some more, and get you sucked up near the line of scrimmage. Then, bang, it's a big play."
By halftime Buffalo led 17-0 and had outgained Kansas City 298 yards to 71. It was all over but the omen.
You remember what happened in Super Bowl XXV, when the Bills went to Tampa full of themselves, and rightfully so, after blasting the Raiders 51-3 for the AFC title. The New York Giants were leading 20-19 with eight seconds to play when Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt. The kick, wide right by about four feet, remains Bills fans' worst nightmare.
On Sunday, almost six minutes into the fourth quarter, the same long snapper (Adam Lingner) whipped the ball to the same holder ( Frank Reich) for a field goal try at the same distance from the same hash mark (right). This time Norwood hit it like Wade Boggs ripping a fastball, right on the sweet spot, and the ball sailed straight and true, end over end, through the center of the uprights.
For one day, at least—one typical day for a playoff in Buffalo—it was last January, and everything went just right.