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Steelers Turn Opportunistic in Routing Bills

September 17, 1996|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like a team intent on returning to the Super Bowl. Jim Kelly apparently thought he was playing in one.

Pittsburgh turned all three of Kelly's second-quarter interceptions into scores, including Carnell Lake's 47-yard touchdown on the final play of the first half, and the Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills, 24-6, Monday night.

Jerome Bettis ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns in his second consecutive 100-yard game and Kordell Stewart turned a seemingly routine screen pass into a 48-yard big play that set up Bettis' first score as the Steelers (2-1) defeated Buffalo (2-1) in Pittsburgh for the fourth straight season.

Erric Pegram added 84 yards in 17 carries as Pittsburgh alternated running backs to outrush the Bills, 222-86.

"When you make a great quarterback like Jim Kelly hesitate and throw the ball to you, you've done a great job," Steeler defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "They tried everything, but when a defense is playing well like ours is, it looks like you're sitting on everything they're doing."

The Steelers are 8-1 under Coach Bill Cowher and 6-0 at home on Mondays, apparently their favorite night of the week. But it again wasn't Kelly's night in his hometown.

Kelly--playing without his top pass protector, the injured Ruben Brown, and under constant pressure from a revived Steelers' Blitzburgh defense--had four passes intercepted and was sacked twice in one of the worst games of his career outside of a Super Bowl, in which he has an 0-4 record.

"They played their rear ends off and we got beat bad," Kelly said. "I wish I had answers, but I don't. We came in confident. We had a great week of practice. But we couldn't click any way you looked at it."

Kelly completed 15 of 31 passes for 116 yards. He has thrown two touchdown passes and had nine passes intercepted in his last four games in Pittsburgh--all losses.

"It wouldn't matter if we were playing in Pittsburgh or Dallas or China," Buffalo linebacker Mark Maddox said. "They beat us. We let them dominate us."

The loss continued the Bills' offensive problems that began in tight, come-from-behind victories over the Giants and Patriots. They have scored only two touchdowns in their last two games.

"Offense, defense and coaching are all responsible for a loss that to all of us is humiliating," Buffalo Coach Marv Levy said.

Steve Christie kicked a 31-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead, 3-0, midway through the second quarter, and safety Kurt Schulz missed a great chance to make it 10-0 by dropping a sure touchdown interception in the open field on Pittsburgh's next play.

Then, three plays later, Stewart--who alternated between quarterback and receiver in his familiar Slash role--took Mike Tomczak's screen pass and ran down the Steelers' sideline to the Bills' 13 behind Dermontti Dawson's block. Bettis scored from the one three plays later, and the Bills never got any closer.

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