Bills 0

(1-10, 1-4 away)

49ers 35

(9-2, 5-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, December 2, 2001


1 2 3 4 T
BUF 0 0 0 00
SF 0 14 7 1435

Niners put it all together, Bills flounder

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- There was no looking ahead by the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, they stared straight at the woeful Buffalo Bills -- with impressive results.

Terell Owens caught his league-leading 13th TD pass of the season.

Garrison Hearst rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown, and Ahmed Plummer had two of San Francisco's four interceptions to lead the 49ers to their first shutout of the season, a 35-0 victory over the Bills on Sunday night.

Next week's showdown with the St. Louis Rams looms so large that 49ers coach Steve Mariucci admitted his team might have been tempted to think past Buffalo. But his young team gave Mariucci another reason to praise its maturity with overwhelming performances on both sides of the ball.

"It was one of the more dominating games we've had around here in a while," said Mariucci, who wore an ice pack on his left shin after a sideline run-in with Jeff Garcia.

During their implausible run to a tie for the NFL's best record at 9-2, the 49ers specialized in escaping from trouble. They've already matched an NFL record with four overtime games, and they had only one win by more than 10 points.

But against bumbling Buffalo (1-10) on a typically blustery night on Candlestick Point, the young 49ers pounded the Bills. It was the 49ers' biggest win since a 45-10 victory at Washington on Sept. 20, 1998.

Despite taking several hard hits, Garcia had another outstanding game. He was 19-of-27 for 189 yards and two TDs, completing his first nine passes before hitting Tai Streets for his first career TD and Terrell Owens for his league-leading 13th score of the season.

"We hit him in the mouth, and he was fogged, but his toughness showed through," Bills coach Gregg Williams said. "That was the only point where we were physical enough to match up with that team. We weren't good enough."

J.J. Stokes, a forgotten man on San Francisco's offense for much of the season, had eight catches for 68 yards. Hearst had another steady game, while fullback Fred Beasley scored his first TD of the season.

Moreover, the 49ers' offensive line was simply overwhelming. Even Paul Smith, the 49ers' fourth-string running back, got his first NFL touchdown with 3:08 remaining after the Bills' fourth turnover.

"Those guys up front are the keys to it all," Hearst said. "Tonight, they just took control and smashed people."

Plummer, the rising star at cornerback on the 49ers' young defense, made a team-best seven tackles and picked off two passes by Alex Van Pelt. The Bills' quarterback was 21-of-38 for 168 yards and four interceptions, a real turnaround after back-to-back 300-yard passing games.

The Bills did very little right in their sixth straight loss, though much of their ineffectiveness could be attributed to the 49ers' fired-up defense.

Larry Centers got his 750th career reception, but he also was Buffalo's leading rusher with 14 yards; Eric Moulds had seven catches for 55 yards, but the 49ers limited his effectiveness.

San Francisco's defense set up the 49ers' second TD midway through the second quarter. As Lance Schulters leveled Van Pelt on a safety blitz, Plummer stepped in front of Moulds and tipped the ball out of the receiver's hands to himself for an exceptional interception.

"It's good that we learned to play while we're ahead," said Plummer, who has four interceptions in the past two games and seven on the season. "We don't want to keep our habit of playing from behind. It's too tough."

Three plays later, Garcia took his third straight hard hit, but he delivered a 23-yard TD pass to Streets.

Owens scored on a 17-yard TD pass late in the third quarter, capping a 68-yard drive.

Game notes
Hundreds of fans couldn't park near 3Com Park because of flooding in the stadium's parking lots. ... Bills TE Jay Riemersma suffered a concussion. ... Shayne Graham, the Bills' latest choice to solve their kicking woes, badly missed a 49-yard field goal attempt at the halftime gun. San Francisco's Jose Cortez missed a short field goal, had another blocked and shanked a kickoff. ... The Niners are off to their best start since 1997, when they went 11-1 in Mariucci's first year.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 3 plays, 24 yds, 0:39
sfTD3:40Paul Smith, 13 yd run
Drive info: 3 plays, 21 yds, 1:45
Drive info: 3 plays, 24 yds, 0:39
Drive info: 3 plays, 21 yds, 1:45
sfTD5:10Fred Beasley, 3 yd run
Drive info: 4 plays, 26 yds, 2:35
Drive info: 4 plays, 26 yds, 2:35
Drive info: 9 plays, 29 yds, 5:28
Drive info: 9 plays, 29 yds, 5:28
sfTD15:00Garrison Hearst, 1 yd run
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 15:18
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 15:18