Worth Waiting For
The Silver Anniversary of the Super Bowl was deserving of a good game, and the fans were not disappointed. Certainly it was the closest Super Bowl, with a one- point margin separating the winning New York Giants from the losing Buffalo Bills. It had the virtue of having the underdog triumph--the Bills were favored by about a touchdown, even though the AFC hadn't won a Super Bowl since XVIII. And, the decision came down to the last play of the game.
After Buffalo failed to move after the opening kickoff, New York took over on its own 31. The Giants drove to the Bills' 11 yard line in 11 plays before settling for a 28-yard FG by Matt Bahr. A Jeff Hostetler-to-Mark Ingram third-down pass for 16 yards was the key play of the drive.
When Buffalo got the ball back, Jim Kelly threw a 61-yard pass to James Lofton to move to the Giants' 8-yard line, but the drive stalled. Scott Norwood tied the game with a 23-yard FG.
Late in the first quarter, Buffalo began a drive at its own 20. In 12 plays, including passes by Kelly for 20 yards to Andre Reed and 16 yards to Thurman Thomas, the Bills drove for a touchdown. Don Smith scored on a one-yard slash.
After an exchange of punts, New York found itself in trouble when Dave Meggett elected to fair catch at the Giants' 7-yard line. A few seconds later, Hostetler tripped over Ottis Anderson's foot while dropping back to pass and sprawled into the endzone. He scrambled to his feet but couldn't avoid Buffalo's Bruce Smith, who pulled him down for a safety. With New York kicking to them and leading 12-3, the Bills seemed about to take control, but three passes by Kelly fell incomplete. Neither team could put together a scoring drive until the Giants started from their 13 with 3:49 left in the second quarter. Hostetler mixed passes with the running of Anderson and Meggett to move the ball to the Buffalo 14, where a Hostetler-to-Stephen Baker scoring pass completed the 87-yard drive.
Trailing 12-10, the Giants began the second half with a long drive--a 75-yard, 14-play, grind 'em-out one that took 9:29 off the clock. Anderson's 1-yard run put New York in front. Key plays were Hostetler's 11-yard pass to Meggett on a 3rd and 8 and Anderson's 24-yard burst on third and 1.
With the Giants' two long drives plus extended halftime, the Bills hadn't run anything more than a first-half-ending kneel down in more than an hour, and it took them a while to get back on track. But, with 1:19 left in the 3rd quarter, they started a drive from their 37 that ended in Thurman Thomas' 31-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Down 19-17, the Giants put together their third long, time-consuming drive of the game--74 yards in 14 plays--with Bahr's 21-yard FG giving New York back the lead, 20-19. Again, a clutch Hostetler pass, 16 yards to Mark Bavaro, salvaged a third down situation.
But Buffalo wasn't finished. In the final two minutes, the Bills drove from their own 10 to the New York 29, but Norwood's 47-yard, game-winning FG attempt sailed wide right.