You're Jim Kelly,
and a nation of quarterbacks will be in your corner Sunday. If your Buffalo
Bills beat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV, you will go down in history
as the liberator, the man who set the QBs free. You run a no-huddle offense,
you call your own plays. Sometimes you go 15 or 20 snaps without looking to the
sidelines for help. You represent the past, the pre-Paul Brown, pre-Tom Landry
era when a signal-caller was a play-caller, too. And you also represent the
future, NFL coaches being a breed of copycats. What works for you could work
for others. Have a nice Sunday, Jim, say all the poor souls squinting over to
the bench to see what Coach & Co. has for them. Set us free.
was the innovator because he started sending in all the plays for his
quarterbacks," says Ted Marchibroda, the Bills' offensive coordinator, who
devised Buffalo's no-huddle system. "Now we're the innovators because we
let Jim call his own stuff. The game is his. The pendulum has swung."
But can Kelly
really call a whole game himself, with not even a little peek over to the guys
with the headphones?
boss," says Bills center Kent Hull. "He might not look over to the
bench more than two or three times a game, and then only if he gets in a jam.
But if things are going right, he won't look to the sidelines the whole
went right Sunday in the Bills' 51-3 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders in
the AFC Championship Game at Rich Stadium. The Bills used the no-huddle for the
whole first half and scored on three of their first four possessions, putting
the game away before the intermission. And that wasn't just anybody they were
working against. The Raiders had allowed the second-fewest yards in the AFC
during the regular season.
Things were even
more right at the beginning of Buffalo's first playoff game, against the Miami
Dolphins on Jan. 12, when the Bills put points on the board in each of their
first five possessions and went on to win 44-34. The mighty Giant defense felt
the bite of that Buffalo attack on Dec. 15, when the Bills put together long
scoring drives on each of their first two possessions and won 17-13.
For a change, the
AFC entry, Buffalo, comes into the Super Bowl as the team riding the whirlwind,
much as the San Francisco 49ers were last year. The Bills are the hot team, and
the hot-team formula—confirmed by the 49ers the past two years, the Giants in
1987 and the Chicago Bears the year before that—usually holds up. But for the
last six years the NFC has been the hot conference. This time it's the Giants,
with their heroic 15-13 victory over San Francisco in the NFC title game on
Sunday at Candlestick Park, who have people shaking their heads, wondering how
they did it.
you how we did it," says Giants coach Bill Parcells. "We did it by not
handing the ball over. We set a record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season
. We don't make it easy for people. Yeah, I know, we've been called a
conservative team, but you'll notice that this conservative team is still
yes, but still able to shut down an offense as potent as the 49ers'—not once
but twice. San Francisco made only two significant offensive plays in its 7-3
victory over the Giants in December. On Sunday the Niners had only one, a
61-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor. The rest of the time for the 49ers it
was dink and dunk and hope that the defense stood firm and bailed out the
But this time it
was the New York defense that rose up and knocked Joe Montana out of the game
with about 10 minutes left and then got a big play from Erik Howard. Operating
at defensive end for the first time, instead of his normal nose-guard position,
Howard knocked the ball loose from Niner back Roger Craig. Lawrence Taylor was
in just the right spot to catch the fumble, and the Giants' offense had just
enough left to drive 33 yards and position Matt Bahr for his game-winning field
goal. And now New York must face the whirlwind.