Getting back to the Super Bowl is not enough for the Buffalo Bills. They want to eliminate any remembrance of their first two appearances in the title game.
Losers to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins in the past two Super Bowls, the Bills took heart from Sunday's 34-31 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers even though their defense was chewed up for 598 yards."We have a long way to go, but the 49ers are a great team and there's this AFC-NFC thing," said tight end Pete Metzelaars, who caught two of Jim Kelly's three touchdown passes. "To win a game against the NFC is a great thing for us."
"We had a lot to prove to ourselves," Kelly said.
"Defensively, as bad as we played, we still won the game," Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith said, adding, "I feel a bit of urgency (to win the Super Bowl this season), after all the turmoil and lack of success in the Super Bowl the past two years."
The Bills (2-0) emerged with a win even though the 49ers (1-1) moved the ball better than any other team ever had against a Buffalo defense, surpassing the 559 yards allowed to Seattle on Oct. 30, 1977.
Trying to defend against the Steve Young-led attack was "60 minutes of hell," Buffalo linebacker Darryl Talley said.
Linebacker Mike Walter, Talley's San Francisco counterpart, said the Bills' up-tempo offense that included variations of the no-huddle and shotgun was also defender's nightmare.
"What they do is cause us such problems with the no-huddle thing. It can be very chaotic," Walter said. "All of a sudden you face it, and you've got to learn how to play against it. They just kept us off balance. I feel that as a defensive guy, I've got to go over and apologize to our offensive guys. They did a great job out there."
Both Kelly and Young threw for more than 400 yards, and four players, two from each team, had more than 100 receiving yards. Neither team punted, the first time that's happened in NFL history.
"At times, I thought both teams were a little delirious," Talley said.
Together, Kelly and Young combined for 852 passing yards - the third highest total for a game in NFL history - although each was missing a key receiver. Buffalo tight end Keith McKellar is on injured reserve and the Niners lost Jerry Rice with a concussion in the first period.
The game pitted the two winningest teams in the league since 1988. One or the other has been in each of the past four Super Bowls, although they have not faced each other in the NFL championship game.
San Francisco had a chance to tie with 54 seconds remaining but Mike Cofer's 47-yard field goal sailed wide right. The Bills lost the 1990 Super Bowl in a similar manner when the the now-departed Scott Norwood missed as time ran out a 20-19 Giants' victory.
Young finished with 449 yards, completing 26 of 37. He became the first 49ers quarterback other than Joe Montana to go over 400 yards, something Montana has done seven times.
Kelly completed 22 of 33 throws for 403 yards, second only in club history to Joe Ferguson's 419 yards at Miami on Oct. 9, 1983.
John Taylor scored on 7- and 54-yard receptions for San Francisco and Odessa Turner added a 23-yard catch.
Both sides had three turnovers, and it was the last of those that led to Buffalo's winning touchdown.
Young tried to get a pass to Mike Sherrard, but Nate Odomes stepped in front to make the interception at the Buffalo 27 with 6:48 remaining.
"(Odomes) baited me pretty good," Young said. "We had run that route a couple of times, and you know, he's a professional too. He made a nice play."