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Buffalo comeback was one for the books. By Vic Carucci. Down by 32 points with 28 minutes remaining in the game, the Buffalo Bills staged the biggest comeback in the history of the NFL. In the wildest of wild-card games, the Buffalo Bills, their toes hanging over the brink of playoff elimination, came back-and back, and back-to defeat the Houston Oilers in overtime.
The issue was settled by Steve Christie's yard field goal into the extra period, but that kick was among the least notable of the Bills' accomplishments on January 3, The odds they overcame just to reach that point were so mammoth, so impossible, they boggle the mind.
Consider that, besides falling behind early in the third quarter, the Bills were without starting quarterback Jim Kelly and big-play linebacker Cornelius Bennett for the whole game, and without star running back Thurman Thomas for most of the second half. Consider, too, that the Oilers-and especially their quarterback, Warren Moon-had been almost flawless through the first 32 minutes. Anybody who does is dreaming.
This time, the dream came true, thanks to a long list of Buffalo heroes. Making the first playoff start of his eight-year NFL career, backup quarterback Frank Reich had an incredible game. After seeing his role diminished through the final 10 games of the regular season, wide receiver Andre Reed came to life with 8 receptions for yards and 3 touchdowns, equaling his regular-season total for scoring catches. Taking over at running back after Thomas left for the day with a sore hip, Kenneth Davis carried 13 times for 68 yards and a touchdown.
After a half of playing as it if never had seen a football, Buffalo's defense held the Oilers to 3 points through the final 30 minutes. Cornerback Nate Odomes made the defensive play of the day, intercepting Moon in overtime to set up the winning points.
And as a football player, you gear your mind to not thinking how far you are behind. We're geared to the game not being over until the final whistle blows. This is another look at a football miracle, through the eyes of those who made it happen. Picking up where they left off in a victory over Buffalo the week before at the Astrodome, the Oilers raced to a halftime lead. Moon was phenomenal, completing 19 of his first 22 attempts for yards and 4 touchdowns.
He was 6 for 7 on each of the Oilers' first two drives. They were hitting screens on us, they were doing draws on us. They were just moving on us, and there was nothing we could do. You sit there and think to yourself, 'How can we turn this thing around and not be totally embarrassed? He could have been a plastic surgeon that day and given nine million facelifts. Walt Corey, the Bills' defensive coordinator, did some carving of his own when he addressed the members of his unit during intermission. He made his point in a colorfully phrased, two-minute tirade.
The thing that bothered me was their approach. To me, they looked timid. They looked like they were going to get in the right spots, but they weren't going to make anything happen afterward. This is an attitude game. Sometimes you start playing and you're afraid to make things happen or afraid to make a mistake. We were embarrassing him, we were embarrassing ourselves, we were embarrassing Buffalo Bills fans.
After Corey spoke, it was head coach Marv Levy's turn. Maybe it's the last thirty minutes of your season.
When your season's over you're going to have to live with yourselves and look yourselves in the eyes. You'd damn well better have reason to feel good about yourselves, regardless of how this game turns out. Meanwhile, in the Oilers' dressing room, Moon was stressing caution to his teammates. Not laughing, but they had a look of comfort on their faces.
And that's when I started saying, 'Remember Denver last year [when the Oilers wasted a lead on the way to playoff elimination]? We didn't play the full sixty minutes.
Don't let it happen again. We can't relax, we can't relax. I knew the explosiveness of Buffalo, and I knew what happened to us before. Back in the Bills' dressing room, Reich received an insightful message from Gale Gilbert, the Bills' third-string passer. There's no reason why you can't do it here.
Five plays into the second half, there suddenly was a good reason why Reich wasn't likely to do it that day. He threw a pass that bounced off the hands of tight end Keith McKeller and into the arms of strong safety Bubba McDowell. Fifty-eight yards later, McDowell was high-stepping into the end zone with the Oilers' fifth touchdown. Some fans headed for the exits. They were convinced the season was over. But it was about the same chance as you have of winning the New York Lottery.
Despite Moon's warning, the Oilers turned their thoughts to the next round of the playoffs. Oilers 35, Bills 3. The Oilers had decided to give up the wind to start the third quarter because they wanted to have it at their backs in the fourth. With gusts at 17 miles per hour, Al Del Greco tried to squib the kickoff down the middle. But the ball hit the leg of Mark Maddox, who was on the front line of the Bills' return team, and the young linebacker recovered at the Ten plays later, Davis ran 1 yard around left end for a touchdown.
Oilers 35, Bills At halftime, Levy had instructed his special-teams coach, Bruce DeHaven, to try an onside kick down the middle of the field the first chance he got. The Bills had practiced the play for the first time just two days before.
Christie had been practicing the squib kick by himself for the three weeks. The ball squirted free and Christie recovered-just as the play is deed-at the Buffalo Four plays later, Reich found Beebe wide open down the left sideline for a yard touchdown pass. Beebe had been pushed toward the sideline by Oilers cornerback Jerry Gray, and both of Beebe's feet had been out of bounds before he came back in play to catch the pass.
Expecting deep help from McDowell that never came, as well as an official to negate the play because Beebe had stepped out of bounds, Gray let up. Beebe kept going. No call was made.
You could just feel it. I mean, we felt if we got the ball, we were going to move it. And we did. With remaining in the third quarter, Houston's offense finally got on the field, at its own And it was here that the Bills made their first defensive stand of the day. At halftime, Corey had decided to scrap the Dime defense that Moon had shredded in the first half, and go with a basic alignment the rest of the way.
He sat down the two extra defensive backs and replaced them with linebackers Carlton Bailey and Marvcus Patton. On first down, Patton nailed Webster Slaughter after a 3-yard catch. Then defensive end Phil Hansen stuffed running back Lorenzo White, followed by free safety Mark Kelso's brilliant play to break up a deep out pass for Curtis Duncan.
That set up a punt by Greg Montgomery, which, in the face of a stiff wind, traveled only 25 yards. The Bills took over at their Five plays later, Reich hit Reed on a yard touchdown pass down the left sideline. That's when I thought it was within reach. If the defense kept playing the way it was playing, and we kept executing on offense, there was plenty of time to come back and win this football game.
Now, the crowd was in a frenzy-that is, the fans who had stayed past McDowell's interception-turned-touchdown. Many of those who had left and were listening to the game on the radio turned around and headed back to the stadium. Because their tickets didn't permit re-entry, they began climbing over the fences to get back in.
Security guards tried to stop them at first, but they eventually relented. With remaining in the third quarter, Moon threw his first bad pass of the game, over the middle and far above the head of Slaughter. Henry Jones, the Bills' young and opportunistic strong safety, intercepted and returned the ball 15 yards to the Houston Three plays later, the Bills faced fourth and 5 from the Reich called time out to talk to Levy about whether to attempt a field goal or go for the end zone.Wanted real down to Buffalo woman 38 54
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Bills - Greatest Comeback