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SUPER BOWL XXVII : Thomas Missing in Action : Bills: For the second Super Bowl in a row, he is not a factor, and he says it's because the defense makes him a target.

February 01, 1993|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A tip of the cap to the Bills: They proved their point.

It doesn't really matter if Thurman Thomas can find his helmet in time to play in the Super Bowl. The Bills are going to lose, and Thomas is going to be a no-show.

Thomas, who has led the NFL four consecutive years in yards gained from scrimmage, was no factor in the Bills' 37-24 loss to Washington in Super Bowl XXVI after misplacing his helmet for the first two plays of the game.

Thomas had his chin strap buckled in time to start in Super Bowl XXVII on Sunday, but by the start of the third quarter he could have been out of uniform and no one might have noticed.

The Cowboys took a 28-10 halftime lead, and while they would go on to record a 52-17 victory, Thomas would touch the ball three times in the second half and finish the game with 19 yards on 11 rushes and 10 yards on four catches.

In his last two Super Bowl appearances, Thomas has run 21 times for 32 yards and has caught eight passes for 37 yards.

"What about it?" snapped Thomas. "Hey, I guess their defensive scheme was to stop Thurman. And if you have 11 guys trying to stop one person, you're not going to have a good game.

"You're going to go out and try and do the best you can, but every time there's somebody in your face you're just not going to do it."

The Bills rely heavily on Thomas during the regular season and have been almost desperate in their search for such success in Super Bowl play.

"If anybody is going to base my career on the last two Super Bowl performances, you're all ignorant, you're all crazy," Thomas said. "We got 11 guys out there trying to do a job. You just can't throw the load on one guy's shoulders."

The Bills went nowhere on offense against Dallas, and Thomas suggested the problem might have been in the way he was used/ignored by Buffalo's coaching staff.

"It seems like when we come into these games we have a pretty good game plan, but once the game starts we seem to go away from the game plan," Thomas said. "It was the same thing that happened last year. I was involved in the offense, and when the running game wasn't going they had me out a lot on the passing routes.

"I felt with my ability I could beat Ken Norton, but they just never gave me the shot or the opportunity to do that. It's pretty hard to swallow right now. It's pretty hard to say whether we were out-coached. I can tell you one thing, we weren't outplayed. . . ."

When the outcome of the game remained in question, the Bills had turned to Thomas. His two-yard run in the first quarter had given them a 7-0 lead, but the Cowboys struck back for a 14-7 advantage.

The Cowboys rebuffed Thomas' one-yard dive in an attempt to tie the score in the second quarter, and two plays later Thomas Everett intercepted Jim Kelly's pass.

Thomas questioned the call from the sideline that had Kelly throwing, and he said he was not alone in his criticism.

"I was surprised, and I know a lot of the players were," he said. "You can't question the coach's call. You just have to try and execute the play.

"We should have known at the time when they brought in their regular defense . . . we should have gone to another play. But Marv (Levy) felt like that play was the play that was going to work, and obviously it didn't.

"After that interception a lot of the players came over to the sideline and said we could have run another play. We could have called time out."

On the Bills' next possession, however, Thomas had another chance to tie the score. He tried left tackle on third and one from the Dallas three-yard line and went nowhere, prompting a Steve Christie 21-yard field goal.

Dallas went ahead, 21-10, and then on first and 10 from their own 20 with 1:54 to play in the second quarter, Thomas took a short pass from Frank Reich and fumbled. The Cowboys recovered, and one play later they extended their lead to 28-10.

"It seemed like they had a man for me wherever I went," Thomas said. "Whether it was Ken Norton, or Charles Haley or Kenneth Gant, they always had somebody in my face. They had a great scheme. I still don't know what it was, but it was great."

Thomas said he was also hampered by a sore ankle, sore quadriceps muscle and a sore shoulder.

He had run for 135 yards in the Bills' 20-19 defeat to the Giants in Super Bowl XXV, but now he has been left behind in the past two Super Bowls and he's upset.

"Getting beat, like we have in the last two Super Bowls, is ridiculous," he said. "This hurts. I thought the field goal that (Scott) Norwood missed (against the Giants) hurt.

"But this--I mean we really just embarrassed ourselves. We couldn't protect the football. We had nine turnovers, and you can't beat a high school team when you have nine turnovers."

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