The no-huddle showed no mercy.
And when it came to stopping Buffalo's hurry-up attack, the Los Angeles Raiders had no clue.From the very first drive, the Bills marched all over the Raiders and toward Tampa for their first Super Bowl.
"I think we surprised a lot of people," Jim Kelly said after guiding the non-stop attack to a record-setting 51-3 victory for the Bills first championship since winning the AFL crown in 1965. "We knew we had it and we just surprised Los Angeles a little bit. They didn't think we were going to be that tough."
And, Kelly promised, the Bills will be just as tough in the Super Bowl against the Giants.
"We don't just want to go to Tampa," he said. "We're going there to win."
He's bringing along Thurman Thomas, the NFL's total offense leader the last two seasons, who destroyed the Raiders. And James Lofton, cut by Los Angeles in 1989 but now revitalized at 34. And Andre Reed, the most dangerous receiver in the AFC.
"I have so many weapons," Kelly said after going 17-for-23 for 300 yards with two TDs. "I feel comfortable calling on any of them."
Thomas, of course, was the main weapon in a 502-yard attack. He had 138 yards rushing, including a touchdown, and 61 yards receiving. He ran inside and out through massive holes opened by an outstanding line, caught passes on circle patterns, screens and flares, and devastated the Raiders (12-5), who had the AFC's No. 2 defense.
"I don't think you really dream about putting that many points up on the scoreboard," Thomas said after his team set a playoff record with its 41 first-half points and tied the AFC Championship game mark with 51. "I think what you dream about is just winning the game, no matter if it is 3-0 or 24-7."
Things got ugly for the Raiders early and never improved. They needed to call timeout after just five plays, which produced 46 yards, to figure how to deal with the no-huddle that Kelly runs so devastatingly well.
"I don't know how they did it," linebacker Jerry Robinson said. "It was like clockwork; everything they did was just like clockwork. They were marching down the field. It didn't take a genius to figure out they were going to score."
The Raiders had no defensive geniuses this day, however. Kelly hit Lofton for a 13-yard touchdown on a broken play after the quarterback dropped the snap in the shotgun.
After the Raiders got their only score, a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Jaeger, Buffalo struck again. And again. And again.
Among those running plays were three short ones for scores by Kenneth Davis, tying an AFC Championship record. The best run of the day was by linebacker Darryl Talley, who scampered 27 yards with one of five interceptions of Jay Schroeder, equaling yet another AFC record.
"The first thing I thought was, `Is that the football coming?' " Talley said. "I got the ball and said to myself, `Do something. Run with it, go down, but don't stand still.' "
The Bills never stood still. The scariest aspect of their romp is that neither Bruce Smith nor Andre Reed, their defensive and offensive game-breakers, weren't needed.
"If they play like they did today," the Raiders' Howie Long said, "there's nobody who's going to beat them, plain and simple."
The Raiders certainly weren't going to with Marcus Allen gaining just 26 yards going solo at tailback because Bo Jackson was out with a hip injury. Los Angeles had no chance because Schroeder, who has a history of collapsing in pressure situations, came unglued, going 13-for-31 for 150 yards.
"A couple of them weren't really good throws," Schroeder said, "but they made some good plays, too."
The Bills (15-3) already beat the Giants, 17-13 at the Meadowlands on Dec. 15. As governor Mario Cuomo has pointed out, this Super Bowl is not a matchup of New York teams.
"The Bills are New York's team, and they have our full support," said Cuomo, noting correctly that the Giants train, play and live in New Jersey and have no ties - other than their name - to his state.
The Bills could care less about bragging rights and matchups right now. They're too hot to let anything bother them.