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THE NFL / 1996

Colts Still Have Some Kick Left, Beat the Bills

AFC: Indianapolis remains in race for wild-card spot with 13-10 overtime victory.

December 02, 1996|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — With one kick of his right leg, Cary Blanchard kept the Colts thinking playoffs and kept the Bills waiting.

Blanchard, who missed two field-goal attempts earlier in the game, redeemed himself with a 49-yarder 8:14 into overtime as the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Buffalo Bills, 13-10, on Sunday.

"I knew it was good," Blanchard said of his fourth game-winning kick since he joined the Colts last year. "I was excited as soon as the ball started off. I know I've got the leg to kick for 49 yards, so I know it's going to go the distance."

With the victory, the Colts (7-6) remained in the race for a wild-card spot and pulled within two games of the AFC East-leading Bills (9-4), who were without quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas. The loss prevented Buffalo from clinching a playoff spot.

Blanchard's career-long field goal was 52 yards against Dallas this season. He had missed only two other field-goal tries all year and tied the game with a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter. The winning kick was his 31st of the season, a Colt record.

Paul Justin, starting in place of injured Jim Harbaugh, set up both of Blanchard's field goals with big pass plays to Sean Dawkins and Aaron Bailey. A 38-yard completion to Dawkins and an offside penalty on Buffalo set up the tying field goal.

Justin finished 22 for 40 for 228 yards.

In overtime, Justin's 28-yard pass to Aaron Bailey took Indianapolis to the Buffalo 33. A short gain by Clif Groce and two runs by Marshall Faulk produced only one yard before Blanchard kicked the winner.

Without Kelly, out with a sore hamstring, and Thomas, who has an injured ankle, Buffalo's offense sputtered. The Bills started four possessions in the fourth quarter from inside their own 10 and couldn't overcome the poor field position.

"We got killed in the fourth quarter," said Todd Collins, who started in place of Kelly and was nine for 17 for 204 yards. "We couldn't move the ball and had terrible field position. Inside the 10 consistently, it's hard to make anything happen."

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