Minnesota Vikings Coach Bud Grant has been around so long that he’s seen everything.
But he couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen the Statue of Liberty play go for a touchdown.
“I’m getting a little bit senile,” Grant said.
Grant dusted off the play, and Ted Brown ran 22 yards for the tie-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday to give the Vikings a 27-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
“That was something they dug up out of the archives,” Buffalo Coach Kay Stephenson said. “You can’t prepare for everything the Minnesota Vikings have ever done.”
The Vikings (3-1) needed to execute the novelty play with just under three minutes to play to shake off the Bills (0-4), who erased a 17-point halftime deficit.
The whole Buffalo defense was slow to react to the play, but fooling rookie defensive end Bruce Smith, the league’s first overall draft choice, was the key.
“Smith came real hard (on the pass rush),” Grant said. “He takes the inside route a lot. Once he got inside, we got outside with it.”
The Vikings dominated in the first half, with Tommy Kramer also throwing touchdown passes to Brown, Leo Lewis and Anthony Carter to build a 20-3 lead.
Buffalo’s Greg Bell had his best day of the season, rushing 24 times for 92 yards and 1 touchdown to help the Bills rally for a 20-20 tie.
Vince Ferragamo scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak for Buffalo’s other touchdown, and Scott Norwood kicked two field goals for the Bills.
A second-quarter interception and 67-yard runback to the Buffalo 17 by the Vikings’ 300-pound defensive tackle Tim Newton halted a Bills’ drive and set up Kramer’s 15-yard scoring pass to Brown.
Ferragamo’s arm was hit by Minnesota’s Doug Martin and the ball popped into Newton’s hands at about the Vikings 20. He rumbled to Buffalo’s 17, and recovered his own fumble at the end of the run. The extra point was blocked, but Minnesota had a 13-0 lead.
Minnesota took a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game, moving from its 45 to the Buffalo 10 before Kramer found Lewis for the touchdown.
After the Kramer-to-Brown pass gave Minnesota a 13-point lead, the Bills got on the scoreboard on a 49-yard field goal by Norwood.
The Vikings made it 20-3 on Kramer’s 43-yard bomb to Carter.