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Smith, Bills Rally to Overtime Victory

September 02, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For half a game, the Buffalo Bills were practically invisible. Then, when things got serious, the Bills' veterans, led by a disgruntled Bruce Smith, were everywhere.

Smith, who talked about boycotting the game early last week because of a contract dispute, set up Steve Christie's 34-yard field goal in overtime by sacking Dave Brown and forcing a fumble in the Bills' 23-20 victory on Sunday night.

"Despite the fact we didn't play great early, I'm proud of our team for hanging in there and coming back and playing the game out," Buffalo Coach Marv Levy said. "The Giants did a hell of a job and scared the pants off us."

The Bills had to rally from deficits of 17-0 and 20-7 to beat a team picked by many to finish last in the NFC East.

"I think we were a little stunned," Bill quarterback Jim Kelly said of the early deficits. "Not too much was said. Everybody in their mind knew we had been in this situation before."

Christie forced the overtime with a 39-yard field goal with 7:14 left in regulation and Smith helped provide the margin of victory by sacking Brown at the New York 33, where new middle linebacker Chris Spielman recovered.

"I was kind of surprised they left me one on one with the guard," Smith said. "I was able to beat him around the corner, and I just tried to hit [Brown] as hard as I could to knock the ball out."

Six plays after the recovery, Christie trotted onto the field determined to make the field goal. He had spent the past few minutes being serenaded by chants of "Norwood, Norwood, Norwood," by fans, recalling the missed 47-yard field goal attempt by Scott Norwood that enable the Giants to beat the Bills in the 1991 Super Bowl.

"I just said, 'Fine' it's going in regardless," he said. "I'll throw it in if I have to."

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