Last Sunday I was presented with a dilemma that perhaps many of you were dealing with as well. I sat down in my comfy chair to relax and watch sports. The New York Rangers were playing the Boston Bruins on NBC and I figured it would be an entertaining game to watch. But “Linsanity” was on ABC as New York and Boston were doing battle in the NBA. Do I watch one game and blow off the other? Do I flip back and forth and get a feel for both games? I thought that was my dilemma but that was kids play compared to what happened when I did what guys do best. Flip around and see what else is on as if I don’t have enough on my TV plate.
I decided to check out NFL Network to see what they were showing. Perhaps a Combine replay where I can see how fast 300 pound guys can run the shuttle drill? But there was a game on and not just any game. The Bills were playing the Houston Oilers. Say it isn’t so! The Comeback Game? Now what do I do? Sure I knew the outcome but it’s the greatest comeback in NFL history. Up until last Sunday, I had never seen a replay of the game, just the highlights but this was the actual NBC telecast. This is probably where my wife would walk in and wonder why I would watch the replay of any game when I knew how it would turn out. Cue the conversation during a replay of game 6 of the 1986 World Series. “You know the Mets win so why do you always watch this?” By the way, I love you dear!
I struggled for a few minutes and even turned the hockey game on but I knew deep down inside, I had to watch the Bills. I even watched the ugly part since the replay was in the 2nd quarter when I joined in. I have forgotten so many things over the years. One of the reasons I watch old games is to remember all the interesting things that happened. Here are some of my observations from the “Comeback Game”.
*WHAT’S THE SCORE!!! HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT!!! WHAT QUARTER IS IT!!! Back in 1993 the telecasts didn’t include the continuous information at the top of the screen. How did I survive that back then? For that matter, no yellow first down line and super slow motion, super zoom replays either!
*I chuckled when then Oiler and future Bill Eddie Robinson had an interception go right through his hands. At least he wasn’t juked out of his game uniform.
*I remembered future Bills Coach Kevin Gilbride was on that Oilers staff but I did a Holy (bleep) when Oilers cornerback Jerry Gray broke up a pass. Totally forgot he played in that game.
*I miss Kent Hull. Every time I saw number 67 I felt a certain sadness and remembered he was one of my all time favorite athletes to cover.
*While Houston was rolling to a seemingly insurmountable lead, the announcers(Charlie Jones and I think Todd Christenson) were talking about how amazing this was because Buffalo is one of the toughest places to play in the league. I miss that feeling.
*Down 35-10 in the 3rd quarter, the Bills go with the onside kick(nice call) and Steve Christie recovers. That play doesn’t get talked about enough as one of the key moments.
*The Bills get a touchdown on that possession and thank goodness there was no replay/challenge system. The TD pass went to Don Beebe and replays show he clearly stepped out of bounds during his route and it should have been an illegal touching penalty.
*Despite the fact that I’ve been told over the years that LOTS of people left the game at halftime or when Houston went up 35-3(I was out of town with the Niagara basketball team)the stands still looked pretty full on TV.
*A TD pass to Andre Reed makes it 35-24 making up for the fact that a pass to Beebe which would have given the Bills a first and goal at the Oilers 1 yard line was wiped out by a false start.
*In a 35-24 game, facing a 4th and 5 at the Houston 18 yard line, the Bills go for it. The NBC announcers think they are crazy and should attempt a field goal. It made me wonder, if a 2 point try was part of the rules back then, Marv Levy probably would have attempted the field goal to make it a one possession game. The heck with just a first down, Frank Reich connects with Andre Reed over the middle for a TD.
*The Bills trailed 35-3 with 13:19 to go in the 3rd quarter. The TD to Reed came with 2:00 left which means the Bills scored 28 points in 11:19 of game time. WOW!
*Great play by Nate Odomes as he breaks up a TD pass to Haywood Jeffires.
*YESSSSSS!!!!!.........NO!!!!!! What my reaction would have been when Carlton Bailey picks off Warren Moon but the play is negated by a Bruce Smith roughing the passer penalty.
*Thank you Oilers for botching a field goal that would have made it 38-31.
*Reed had a monster half of football. He catches his 3rd TD of the 2nd half and the Bills go up 38-35. A twitter follower who is also watching tweets that Reed should be in the Hall based on this game alone.
*Give the Oilers credit. They convert on a 4th and 4 at the Bills 34 with under 2:00 to go and finish off the drive with the game tying field goal.
*No long, convoluted explanation of the overtime rules back then.
*The Bills catch a MAJOR break. Odomes picks off Moon and the replay shows that Darryl Talley got away with taking down Ernest Givens, the intended receiver. It looks like Moon thinks Odomes is a teammate because the ball is thrown right to him.
*Christie hits the kick and I hear Van Miller’s call in my head. Absolutely unbelievable. Even 19 years later and even though I knew the outcome. Now I have to buy the DVD so my son can watch it.
The Rangers and Bruins game was a blast(according to twitter) and the Knicks and Celts went into OT(which I watched) but I made the right choice. It felt great to watch the Bills make history.