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SCOTT NORWOOD/Bills kicker


MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Norwood is back for another shot at Super Bowl history.

The Buffalo Bills place-kicker muffed his chance a year ago when he missed a 47-yard field goal that would have beaten the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. That missed kick -- wide right -- has haunted Norwood all season.

And it was especially haunting in a regular-season game in Los Angeles against the Raiders. He missed field goals of 49, 32 and 42 yards, and an extra point, but salvaged a 30-27 victory with a 42-yard kick in overtime. Said teammate Thurman Thomas after that game, "If we'd lost, we would have dropped him over North Dakota on the way home."

Norwood made 18 of 29 field goals in the regular season, and his 62.1 success rate was the lowest of his seven NFL seasons. He ended the regular season in a slump, missing five of his last six.

But Norwood found his touch again in the playoffs, going 4-for-4. He has hit from 33, 20, 47 and 44 yards. His 44-yarder against Denver supplied the points that put Buffalo back in the Super Bowl.

Faced with that prospect, Norwood said, "There is no situation I'd rather be in at this point. I'm thankful for the opportunity, confident in myself."

Nevertheless, Norwood has said he won't talk about last year's Super Bowl this week in Minneapolis. "That's ancient history," he said.

Bills coach Marv Levy defends his kicker by pointing out the hazards of kicking in Rich Stadium, where weather can make Norwood's job treacherous at best.

"As these other kickers, Eddie Murray and other guys, who come in here will tell you, you start taking his season percentage . . . and compare it with some guy that kicks in the Superdome, that's truly comparing apples and elephants," Levy said.

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