Quarterback Bruce Mathison, a waiver player making the first start of his three years in the NFL, rushed for a team-high 57 yards and scored a touchdown in enabling the Buffalo Bills to beat the Houston Oilers, 20-0, today.

He completed 11 of 22 passes for 121 yards as a replacement for Vince Ferragamo, a less-mobile quarterback who had started the Bills' first nine games, eight of which they had lost.

"You have to remember that I played at Nebraska and they use that option all the time, so I know how to run," he said. "I'm going to run if they give me the opportunity to, but I'd rather throw the ball or hand it off to someone.

"Houston came in here and was used to that sun and warm weather in Texas. We've been practicing in it (bad weather) all week."

No quarterback for the Bills had rushed for as many yards since M.C. Reynolds' 65 yards in 1961.

"Mathison hurt us a couple of times when Ferragamo probably wouldn't have," conceded cornerback Patrick Allen of the Oilers (4-6), who had won three straight.

The Oilers hadn't been shut out since Pittsburgh did it, 21-0, in 1976. They entered the game the second-ranked AFC team in the giveaway-takeaway ratio with plus six. But steady rain washed away that ranking as Warren Moon threw three interceptions and his teammates lost three fumbles. Moon, who had completed 56 percent of his passes before the game, completed three of 14 passes for 22 yards before Oliver Luck replaced him late in the third quarter.

Scott Norwood kicked two field goals and Greg Bell ran two yards for Buffalo's other points.