The Buffalo Bills had a super Sunday.
They could only wish it had come a week earlier.Turning the Pro Bowl into a Bills' showcase, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith led the AFC to a 23-21 victory over the NFC in a well-played contest that went down to the wire.
Miami defensive end Jeff Cross horned in on the Bills' show at the end, preserving the victory by blocking a 46-yard field goal try by the Saints' Morten Andersen with seven seconds remaining.
Kelly, who had been nursing a sore left knee, courtesy of the New York Giants in their 20-19 Super Bowl victory over Buffalo the previous Sunday, threw for two touchdowns in the Pro Bowl, including a 13-yarder to Ernest Givins of Houston for the game-winner with 1:49 left.
Voted the MVP of the all-star game, Kelly completed 13 of 19 passes while splitting duty with AFC starter Warren Moon of Houston.
"I would have loved to have won the MVP a week earlier (in the Super Bowl), but this feels good," Kelly said.
The Bills had 10 players, most of any team, in the Pro Bowl game. The Giants topped the NFC with seven representatives.
Buffalo's Andre Reed had four receptions for 80 yards, tops in the all-star game, and caught a 20-yard scoring pass from Kelly. Bills running back Thurman Thomas rushed for a game-high 38 yards on seven carries and also had 36 yards on four receptions.
And Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith was the defensive star for the AFC with three quarterback sacks and a blocked field goal.
The winning pass to Givins capped an AFC comeback from a 21-13 deficit 9:49 into the final quarter.
After Givins scored, Jim Everett of the Los Angeles Rams drove the NFC from its own 29-yard line to the AFC 28, but Andersen had his kick blocked for the second time in the game.
"We had a chance to pull the game out at the end, but we came up short," said Everett, who replaced the injured Joe Montana on the NFC squad and completed 13 of 18 passes for 138 yards while sharing duty with starter Randall Cunningham of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Cunningham threw the ball well, too, completing 6 of 11 for 168 yards.
Moon was 6 of 11 for 72 yards while playing the first and third quarters for the AFC.
Unlike some past Pro Bowl games, where it was obvious the teams had been working together for just a week of short practices, the 1991 all-star game was relatively error-free. There were no interceptions and no lost fumbles by either team.
Buffalo's Smith said that while the players enjoy the week in Hawaii leading up to the game, they play hard when it begins.
"I wasn't on vacation all week," Smith said. "People thought we were taking it lightly this week, but once you get out there and start competing, no one's taking it lightly."
Phoenix Cardinals rookie Johnny Johnson had a fine game for the NFC, scoring on runs of 1 and 9 yards and picking up 32 yards on 10 carries.
"It's an honor to play in a game like this, when I grew up watching a lot of these players," Johnson said. "It also was a great feeling to contribute by scoring two touchdowns."
The first half was low-scoring with the AFC getting a 26-yard field goal from Kansas City's Nick Lowery in the opening quarter, then Johnson putting the NFC up 7-3 with a 1-yard dive in the second.
Lowery's 43-yarder made it 7-6 in the third quarter, then Johnson scored on his 9-yard run to put the NFC ahead 14-6.
Kelly brought the AFC to life in the final quarter, hooking up with Reed to make it 14-13 early in the period. After Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions scored on a 22-yard run to give the NFC an eight-point lead, Lowery kicked a 34-yard field goal with 2:58 left, then Kelly hit Givins with the winning pass.
Kelly, smiling afterward, said he was nervous as he watched Andersen line up for the last-second field goal.
"I thought, `Oh, no, not another one-point loss,"' the Buffalo quarterback said. "Man, I'm glad the kick went our way today."
The previous Sunday, Kelly watched as Buffalo teammate Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal as time ran out in the Super Bowl.