SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
The San Francisco 49ers finally looked every bit as good as their record.
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 in a 35-0 victory
over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.
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 woeful Buffalo (1-10)
on a typically blustery night on Candlestick Point, the young 49ers pounded
the Bills with mature, dominant performances on both sides of the ball.
It was the 49ers' biggest win since
a 45-10 victory at Washington on Sept. 20, 1998.
Despite taking his share of hits
from the Bills' defense, Jeff 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.
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.
Even Paul Smith, the 49ers' fourth-string
running back, got his first NFL touchdown with 3:08 remaining after the
Bills' fourth turnover.
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
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.
Both teams had kicking problems.
Shayne Graham, the Bills' latest choice to solve their kicking woes, badly
missed a 49-yard attempt at the halftime gun. San Francisco's Jose Cortez
missed a short field goal, had another blocked and shanked a kickoff.