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THE NFL / 1996

Mistakes Get Best of Bills in 26-18 Loss

AFC:They commit five turnovers and give up nine sacks against Seahawks, and fall out of first place in AFC East.

December 09, 1996|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — The Buffalo Bills had expected to be peaking by now, not falling apart.

"I'm dumbfounded," center Kent Hull said. "Our first play was a fumble and that was a sign of things to come. Anything bad that could happen happened."

The Seattle Seahawks turned two Buffalo fumbles into touchdowns--and kicked two field goals after intercepted passes--en route to a 26-18 victory Sunday in their final home game.

The Bills (9-5) had a season-worst five turnovers and gave up a season-worst nine sacks in losing their second consecutive game on the road.

Buffalo dropped into second place in the AFC East behind New England (10-4). The Bills still can make the playoffs, but they face the tough prospect of being an AFC wild-card team that must go on the road.

Two weeks ago, the Bills had a four-game winning streak and were talking optimistically about going to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in the 1990s. Now, they're not so sure.

"We're worse off than we were two weeks ago," Coach Marv Levy said.

Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly had two passes intercepted, but his biggest turnover was a fumble with 9:38 to play when he was sacked by Michael Sinclair. Sam Adams recovered, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Buffalo 13.

Lamar Smith scored on a 12-yard run with 8:41 to play to give Seattle (6-8) a 26-11 lead.

"It's embarrassing to play like that in a big game," said Kelly, who completed 24 of 41 passes for a season-best 324 yards and a touchdown. "Everyone made mistakes and we paid for it in our backfield. I'm too old to get beat up like that."

The Bills, who play in Miami next Sunday before winding up their regular season against Kansas City at home, replaced Kelly with Todd Collins because of a shoulder injury Kelly suffered on the play when he fumbled.

After a 45-yard punt return by Jeff Burris, Collins passed 22 yards to Chris Brantley for a touchdown for the Bills with 3:41 left.

Buffalo got the ball back when Eric Moulds recovered an onside kick at the Bills' 40. But Jay Bellamy intercepted a pass--Seattle's final takeaway--by Collins with 3:05 to play. Rick Tuten punted 43 yards and James McKnight downed the ball on the Buffalo one with 1:06 left.

The Bills were limited to a season-low 70 rushing yards, 65 in 17 carries by Thurman Thomas.

"It's hard to run the ball when you're playing from behind all day," said Thomas, referring to Seattle's 16-0 lead in the first half. "We started out thinking we needed three road wins in a row. Now, we're thinking we have to win our last two games so we can sneak into the playoffs."

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