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"The Comeback" BIlls-Oilers, January 3, 1993 20 Year Anniversa


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'Within his reach': The greatest comeback in football history started with Mark Maddox

 

 

 

Thursday is the 20th anniversary of the greatest comeback in the history of the National Football League: The Buffalo Bills, trailing 35-3 in the third quarter of a playoff game against Houston, righted themselves and pulled out a victory that remains surreal, two decades later. Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich is rightly remembered as the guy in the middle of that rally. But it started with a fumble that came achingly close to being recovered by the Oilers, and the game turned on a desperate effort by Mark Maddox, an effort at the bottom of a pile that was invisible to the crowd in the stands. This is a column - edited for timeliness - that I wrote about Maddox and that moment 20 years ago, while the Bills were preparing for what would be a Super Bowl defeat against the Dallas Cowboys.
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Greatest football game ever, period.

 

indeed.

 

from a different era of NFL football.

 

watching that video, on the drive that cut the score to 35-17, there was

 

a beebe catch that would have been overturned and ruled a fumble by modern day instant replay

 

a beebe spike of the ball after a drop that would have been flagged for delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct by todays officials

 

and beebe clearly stepped out of bounds before catching the td, which would have been overturned by instant replay

 

i have long been an opponent of instant replay, and this video may be my prime example of why.

 

although its the "greatest comeback ever," really, it was the oilers playing a great half of football, then the bills playing a great half of football.

 

you can feel the "momentum" ( a tricky concept to define,) changing with every successful play in that game. kenneth davis running for a first down when we were still down 35-10 elicited a monster fist pump from kent hull: when was the last time you saw a bills O line man celebrating a first down run at midfield?

 

that day was magical, a game the league as a whole still remembers 20 years later. a game that couldnt even exist in todays NFL. magic like that requires illusion and slight of hand, like beebe stepping out by half an inch before catching a touchdown. he was still covered by the corner, the spirit of the play remained unchanged. in todays nfl, that play would be nullified, that comeback wouldnt happen. the nfl has sacrificed the magical and the impossible, to replace it with "perfection." you tell me whats better.

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Can't ever lie. I was like 10 and the game wasn't on TV. So I went outside with my friends and played hockey until the 3rd quarter. When they started coming back, I jumped right back on the bandwagon and listened to Van. I love all technology now, but there was nothing better than the whole family listening to one of the greatest games called by one of the greatest announcers ever by radio.

 

And I still believe the bills win the SB if they started Reich. He was Tebow without the fanfare.

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True story...I had been recording every Bills playoff game (in my lifetime) and at halftime of this game, I stopped the VCR with no intention of restarting it. My mother suggested I keep recording, so I did. Good thing...

 

I also recorded a piece by NBC run a week later showing how many plays that went the Bills' way in the second half. Had any one of those plays gone Houston's way, the outcome of the game would likely have been different. A pass by Reich to Metzelaars that went through the hands of a Houston LB, the Beebe non-fumble, Beebe stepping out of bounds on the TD, a hold by Talley in OT that led to Odomes' INT, etc.

 

What I loved about the comeback was how it was primarily the backups (Reich, Kenneth Davis, Beebe) that led the charge while the starters (Kelly, Thurman) were all cheerleaders on the sidelines. Andre Reed played a huge part, obviously, but Reich & Davis were the big players. You hardly even heard from Bruce Smith that game (save for a costly roughing the passer), since Darryl Talley, Carlton Bailey, and Mark Kelso were all making plays.

 

It really was a great half by Houston, then a great half by Buffalo.

 

And I still believe the bills win the SB if they started Reich. He was Tebow without the fanfare.

 

I doubt it. Reich was the master of preparation, but Dallas had everything going for them in that game. Don't forget that Kelly started the AFC Championship against Miami and played well. Why do you say Reich was Tebow? Tim Tebow's got nothing on Frank Reich - two different types of QBs.

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I doubt it. Reich was the master of preparation, but Dallas had everything going for them in that game. Don't forget that Kelly started the AFC Championship against Miami and played well. Why do you say Reich was Tebow? Tim Tebow's got nothing on Frank Reich - two different types of QBs.

Tebow could not carry Reich's jock as a QB. That said, we weren't beating Dallas with any quarterback. Like JJ said at halftime of that game, "We're not Houston." He was right.

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True story...I had been recording every Bills playoff game (in my lifetime) and at halftime of this game, I stopped the VCR with no intention of restarting it. My mother suggested I keep recording, so I did. Good thing...

 

I also recorded a piece by NBC run a week later showing how many plays that went the Bills' way in the second half. Had any one of those plays gone Houston's way, the outcome of the game would likely have been different. A pass by Reich to Metzelaars that went through the hands of a Houston LB, the Beebe non-fumble, Beebe stepping out of bounds on the TD, a hold by Talley in OT that led to Odomes' INT, etc.

 

What I loved about the comeback was how it was primarily the backups (Reich, Kenneth Davis, Beebe) that led the charge while the starters (Kelly, Thurman) were all cheerleaders on the sidelines. Andre Reed played a huge part, obviously, but Reich & Davis were the big players. You hardly even heard from Bruce Smith that game (save for a costly roughing the passer), since Darryl Talley, Carlton Bailey, and Mark Kelso were all making plays.

 

It really was a great half by Houston, then a great half by Buffalo.

 

 

 

I doubt it. Reich was the master of preparation, but Dallas had everything going for them in that game. Don't forget that Kelly started the AFC Championship against Miami and played well. Why do you say Reich was Tebow? Tim Tebow's got nothing on Frank Reich - two different types of QBs.

 

I just meant in that they were both very open about their faith and it seemed like there was something magical in some of the games they played in.

 

Hate Tebow all you want but the Pittsburgh playoff game was amazing.

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I was living in Rochester then. The game was blacked out but I could get ch.3 from Syracuse which had the game. I had to work at Lakeshore Ice Arena during the game so I recorded it. When my shift ended right around 4pm I ran home got the VCR tape, brought it into the bar at Lakeshore and had a packed room watch it.

 

PTR

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I was living in Rochester then. The game was blacked out but I could get ch.3 from Syracuse which had the game. I had to work at Lakeshore Ice Arena during the game so I recorded it. When my shift ended right around 4pm I ran home got the VCR tape, brought it into the bar Lakeshore and had a packed room watch it.

 

PTR

I had my in-laws, who live outside Utica, tape it for me and as soon as I got home from the game I called them and asked that they get me that tape ASAP. They knew somebody driving to Rochester the next day so I met them and picked it up. I did record the ESPN pre & post games shows also.

 

Still have those tapes.

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Remember when we didn't suck?

Actually what I remember most is how jaded Bills fans became after 2 SB losses. Seems unthinkable now but we were just awful. Some actually wanted to bench Jim Kelly in favor of Frank Reich, and get rid of "losers" like TT, Andre and Bruce. I know it's hard for the youngins to believe that but Bills fans have always been cynical...always.

 

PTR

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I was living in Rochester then. The game was blacked out but I could get ch.3 from Syracuse which had the game. I had to work at Lakeshore Ice Arena during the game so I recorded it. When my shift ended right around 4pm I ran home got the VCR tape, brought it into the bar at Lakeshore and had a packed room watch it.

 

PTR

 

I watched the first half, then went to a friends house and recorded the game... then at some point during the hangout I heard the Bills had gotten close and turned off all radios and otherwise... rushed back home to watch the recorded game and it was awesome.

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