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JohnnyGold

I watched the Music City Miracle game in full last night on the NFL Network for the first time in 20 years. It changed my opinion on the game.

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There were A LOT of bad and missed calls that day. Kurt Schulz decleating Eddie George in the 3rd Q might be my favorite hit ever. 

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Bottom line; It was an illegal forward lateral, and the Bills got robbed.

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1 hour ago, JohnnyGold said:

Like most Bills fans my age, I've spent the last 2 decades convinced that Buffalo had a Lombardi trophy ripped from their hands that day, with a terrible call on what was clearly a forward lateral. I vividly remember watching that game and being absolutely devastated when they lost--I was 15 at the time, and it was right up there with Jim Kelly's retirement following the Jacksonville loss as my most disappointing sports moment. Re-watching the game in it's entirety last night didn't necessarily change my view on the throwback, but it put the entire contest in a better context. Here are my thoughts from it (in no particular order ;) )

 

1) The Tennessee Titans were a VERY GOOD football team.

Somehow, 15 year old me didn't understand this at the time. (In fact, it makes me wonder how many posters on here may be 15 years old and also missing this point about last week's Patriots game, but I digress) The Titans went into that game 13-3, which as they stated during the broadcast was the best record for a wildcard team in history. This was also a point in NFL history when the conferences only had 3 divisions, so the division winner ahead of the Titans, the Jaguars, were even better at 14-2. Buffalo has had only two 13 win seasons in their history, and both times made the Super Bowl--the Titans obviously made the Super Bowl that season. The Titans had young talent all over the field: Air McNair at QB, Eddie George at RB, "the Freak" Jeavon Kearse on D. They had stars, they had a great regular season, and they were a yard away from winning the Super Bowl. What's more, this season marked their arrival as a franchise, and they entered a period of dominance for the next 5 years where they would have campaigns of 11, 12, and 13 wins again, making it as far as the conference championship game. Buffalo, on the other hand, went from this loss to one of the longest runs of futility in NFL history, missing the playoffs for 18 straight seasons.

 

2) The Buffalo Bills were a team in complete disarray.

This was the death of their "dynasty", or at least their years of being a contender, and the self destruction was on complete display. Maybe because those guys were my heroes I was oblivious to it at the time. Maybe the lack of social media/24 hour news cycles didn't catastrophize their collapse as it surely would today. Whatever the case, that Bills team had issues, from top to bottom. As we learned years later, it was Ralph who insisted Johnson get the start over Flutie. Knowing that, it was interesting to hear the response of Wade Phillips when asked by Solomon Wilcox at halftime if he would bench Johnson for Flutie: quote "he said something to me that I can't repeat on TV, but it wasn't very nice." That's not a response you hear from McDermott very often, right? Then there was Andre Reed, who had apparently posted on his website a few days earlier that he felt disrespected and wanted to go to a team that appreciated him. Playing with that hanging over his head would be one thing, but he also wasn't on speaking terms with Flutie, who he said had changed as a man over the course of the previous year. Hmmm... I had never heard that--but it puts the benching into a new context.

 

3) Bruce Smith was the best player on the field, he's the all time sack leader, and the best Bill of all time

I wish I was old enough to appreciate that man's career. Seeing highlights of the greats doesn't do them justice, you need to see them on every play dominate a game. And boy, that's what Bruce did. A pure physical freak. At one point spun around the O lineman and got pressure on McNair with a move that would be replayed 10 times today, but was just a typical play for him in that game. Maybe younger me took it for granted that he was a Bill, or didn't realize how good he was compared to the rest of the league, or hadn't watched enough football yet to appreciate it, or all of the above, but wow. If the rest of his career looked like that (and I'd be willing to bet it was better), you could make a case that he's one of the 10 best players to ever play professional football. Am I crazy for saying that?

 

4) The Buffalo Bills were sloppy that day, the Titans were disciplined. 

The Titans didn't commit their first penalty until well into the second half, the Bills were jumping off sides with reckless abandon from the opening gun. This isn't a conspiracy theory either, in that the refs weren't calling it both ways. No, the Bills had 2, 3, maybe 4 defensive linemen literally jumping off sides anticipating snap counts. At one point Bruce ran across the LOS, made no attempt to get back and negated an Eddie George fumble. There was an egregious holding call ON THE DEFENSE of a field goal attempt that the Titans missed going into the half--they then made the retry. Obviously, every defender was out of position on the Homerun Throwback. Hey, I can say with confidence from posting here: If a McDermott team showed up to a playoff game like this---it would be a long offseason on here.

 

5) The Titans were a better team, and played a much (much) better game.

First: Rob Johnson was terrible. Absolutely, unequivocally awful. I don't know what his final stats were and it doesn't matter. He didn't throw a single pass with zip, with touch, or with accuracy. He didn't move the ball all day. Both touchdowns were the results of the ground game and field position. Were people open? I have no idea. But it was, maybe, the worst performance from a Bills QB that I have ever seen. Second: McNair didn't do much better, but their ground game was significantly better than ours. They were picking up big chunks with ease. Yes, their drives stalled (often), but they had bursts and "the momentum" for almost the entire game. They didn't protect the football well, and turned it over a bunch (some negated by Bills penalties), but they moved the chains and scored the ball all day. Many here hang on to the notion that that Bills defense was elite--Super Bowl worthy, even, but the Titans D outclassed us that day. 

 

6) The Universe righted itself with that Homerun Throwback--it was almost cosmically right. Not a pox on our house, but fair just dues for the Titans.

There's no other way to put it. I don't mean to sound like I believe in Atlantis, but that Homerun Throwback almost had to happen. When the greatest comeback ever took place, Buffalo was the better team than the Oilers, and how would we have felt if they nailed a field goal in overtime to beat us? Terrible right? The same could be said if Christies "game winner" bounced the Titans from the playoffs that year. They were the better team. They played better all day. They dominated us. They deserved to win for all of the above reasons, and that was their season to make the Super Bowl. We can dissect the rest of the conference for the rest of our lives: would the Bills have beaten the Colts the next weekend? The Jaguars? Even the Rams in the Super Bowl? What I finally came to the realization of last night is: it doesn't matter, because they DIDN'T beat the Titans, and didn't deserve to! The Titans were the better team, and beat the Bills all day long up and down the field. Somehow, someway, the Bills took the lead, for about 6 seconds of game time, and then lost it in historic fashion again--but they never should have had the lead to begin with, really. 

 

 

So there it is. Sorry if I need to hand in my fan card after this, but I have to admit, it's nice to make peace with that loss. Watching it again, after 20 years of accumulated football knowledge, makes me see it the way the rest of the NFL has seen it. A great play for the Titans in the context of their Super Bowl run. As a Bills fan, I've always viewed it as emblematic of the curse on our franchise, and a day when we were robbed of what may have been a championship season. But it's not that. We were simply a dysfunctional wild card team that got outcoached and outplayed on the road, and lost to a better team in heartbreaking fashion. Oh well. Life goes on.

 

If it makes you feel better so be it. 

 

No doubt the relationship between Ralph, Wade, and Butler had crumbled but you completely dismiss that a beat up veteran Bills team, playing in hostile road  environment, against a team on the rise was winning the game with just seconds left.   

 

Wade choked and left time on the clock.   Players on the Kickoff Team blew their assignments.  The lateral  was an illegal forward pass.   The best Evidence is the thrower was behind the line, the receiver was over it.  No amount of review can change the optics.  No way the ref should have ruled it any other.  The ref blew the call and that’s all there is. 

Edited by Bob in STL
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Yes Bruce was the best player on the field that game.  He was unstoppable that day at the age of 36 1/2 and the main reason we had the game won.  Yes the Titans were a great team and the best wild card team of all time.  That’s what made winning the game in the road and having it ripped away by an illegal forward pass as painful as it was. 

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So you are saying by blatantly making a bad call to give the win to the wrong team the refs actually righted the universe. 

That is absurd. 

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I seen Doug Flutie doing a male enhancement commercial last night I lost all respect for the guy what a weirdo

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It was a forward pass. You never even denied it. Maybe the Tennessee Thumbtacks played better that day, maybe they deserved the win, but they did not earn the win. They won due to an erroneous call, period.

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1 hour ago, HOUSE said:

Nice work Johnny, I can't watch that game anymore, gives me Lupus

It's never Lupus.

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44 minutes ago, Brianmoorman4jesus said:

The Andy Dalton play somehow appeased a lot of my pain from that game. Once we finally made the playoffs again, it doesn’t hurt as bad. If the Bills won that game, they certainly weren’t going to bench Rob Johnson and we were going nowhere with that loser. So the super bowl thing wasn’t happening.  If Flutie never got benched, it’s a different story.

You have no clue how that game would’ve ended with Flutie playing in that game. The year before Flutie played in the playoff game against Miami and the Bills lost 

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Just now, Little Dog said:

You have no clue how that game would’ve ended with Flutie playing in that game. The year before Flutie played in the playoff game against Miami and the Bills lost 

I know he wouldn’t be worse. So does probably every other person that was a Bills fan at that time. I’m not trying to be rude and I have a problem doing this in life, but it was 20 years ago...it’s over, agree to disagree. I’m not going to bother trying to convince you, it doesn’t matter now. We have a good thing going this season. I’m over the Flutie Johnson thing.

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19 minutes ago, nedboy7 said:

So you are saying by blatantly making a bad call to give the win to the wrong team the refs actually righted the universe. 

That is absurd. 

Ehhh, IDK if it was a bad call, tbh.

It has always appeared to me that the ball is thrown further ahead of the thrower, and caught further behind the receiver, making it perfectly lateral.

Using the 20 yard marker as a gauge, the ball is thrown directly on that line, regardless of body position.

It's a matter of inches, with 1 camera angel and standard definition replay.

Maybe it was slightly forward, but nothing that could be overturned in the moment.

I'm saying that it was an appropriate culmination of events from that day, in that the Titans outplayed Buffalo on special teams, offense and defense. And just like when we beat them 7 years earlier in a ridiculous comeback that maybe never should have happened, they got one over on us.

I know not every fan will see it that way, but the entire point of this thread was that after watching the entirety of the game last night, I changed my perspective on it, seeing how thoroughly they were outclassed that day. Like it or not: the Titans deserved to win and even though for a few minutes it looked like Buffalo had stolen victory, it wasn't meant to be.

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5 minutes ago, BUFFALOKIE said:

It was a forward pass. You never even denied it. Maybe the Tennessee Thumbtacks played better that day, maybe they deserved the win, but they did not earn the win. They won due to an erroneous call, period.

 

They definitely earned the win, which is again, what I realized last night.

As a kid, I viewed them as a "new" franchise, and it was a fluke for them to even be in the playoffs.
What I realized last night is: that was a good, legitimate football team, that went on to have great success, that beat an aging, dysfunctional Bills team that played very poorly that day.

I held on to the anger of being "ripped off" on that call, and "robbed of a Super Bowl" for 20 years, and never really watched or had any interest in re-living that moment, as it was pretty much my most painful sports memory of all time.
It helped to see it with fresh eyes, and an extra 20 years of football knowledge that I've accumulated.

If the pass was a forward pass, you're talking mere inches of ball movement across 30 yards in the air--tbh, I don't know if it would even be overturned today. 100 officiating crews wouldn't throw a flag in the moment, and 100 wouldn't overturn it based on that video evidence.

I think it's easy to say they won on a fluke, but go back and watch the Bills comeback win over the Oilers: how many noncalls did Buffalo benefit from that day? Our historic (and in some ways, maybe franchise high water mark) could just as easily be discredited by Titans fans saying we only got back into it because the refs didn't want to make calls against the home team that was rolling.

Really, that's the essence of my post: watching the game as a whole--not just analyzing inches of ball movement, no *****, on a lateral pass--puts that play into context. The Bills got worked that day by more than the refs. The entire Titans organization beat them, from start to finish.

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I was 26 then.  Stuck at work, luckily a very slow day.  Watched the game in the Hotel Lobby while on the clock.  Talk about a terrible experience.  GeeeeeZ

 

never rewatched.  Never will.  Won’t accomplish a dam thing but boost my blood pressure when I watch that forward pass

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5 minutes ago, JohnnyGold said:

Ehhh, IDK if it was a bad call, tbh.

It has always appeared to me that the ball is thrown further ahead of the thrower, and caught further behind the receiver, making it perfectly lateral.

Using the 20 yard marker as a gauge, the ball is thrown directly on that line, regardless of body position.

It's a matter of inches, with 1 camera angel and standard definition replay.

Maybe it was slightly forward, but nothing that could be overturned in the moment.

I'm saying that it was an appropriate culmination of events from that day, in that the Titans outplayed Buffalo on special teams, offense and defense. And just like when we beat them 7 years earlier in a ridiculous comeback that maybe never should have happened, they got one over on us.

I know not every fan will see it that way, but the entire point of this thread was that after watching the entirety of the game last night, I changed my perspective on it, seeing how thoroughly they were outclassed that day. Like it or not: the Titans deserved to win and even though for a few minutes it looked like Buffalo had stolen victory, it wasn't meant to be.

 

For me it is not about who "deserves to win".  If you are arguing the actual call was good then that's fine.  But imo there is no such thing as to who deserved to win based on previous plays or history.  Otherwise they would base wins on performance and not points. 

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1 hour ago, JohnnyGold said:

 

5) The Titans were a better team, and played a much (much) better game.

 

Thanks for the careful write-up, JohnnyG -- but did the Titans really play a THAT much (much) better of a game? I was (ahem) a little older than you at the time, and I remember the game differently. Certainly the numbers don't lie: Notwithstanding the Offside calls, the Bills D completely stifled Tennessee's prolific O that day, holding them to <200 total yards while toying with McNair and limiting star Eddie George to a pedestrian 3.5 yards/carry. Those stats alone negate the "much" better game argument, IMO. But I agree about Rob Johnson; my god, he was terrible -- and terrified. Tennessee had a great pass rush, and Johnson acted like a frozen deer in the headlights. What an amazingly stupid decision to start Johnson over Flutie under those conditions; for sure Flutie would have taken better advantage of Tenn's overly aggressive edge rushers, with his ability to make plays on the run. Also the Bills criminally underused Antowain Smith, who I always thought was underrated. Smith only had 14 carries in that game (at almost 6 yards a pop!), but ripped off some big runs, and got stronger as the game wore on. But in the end the only difference that mattered was that %$#@  forward lateral. Whatever one thinks of that play, the simple truth is this -- if the Bills had been at home, they would have gotten that call!

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2 minutes ago, JohnnyGold said:

 

They definitely earned the win, which is again, what I realized last night.

As a kid, I viewed them as a "new" franchise, and it was a fluke for them to even be in the playoffs.
What I realized last night is: that was a good, legitimate football team, that went on to have great success, that beat an aging, dysfunctional Bills team that played very poorly that day.

I held on to the anger of being "ripped off" on that call, and "robbed of a Super Bowl" for 20 years, and never really watched or had any interest in re-living that moment, as it was pretty much my most painful sports memory of all time.
It helped to see it with fresh eyes, and an extra 20 years of football knowledge that I've accumulated.

If the pass was a forward pass, you're talking mere inches of ball movement across 30 yards in the air--tbh, I don't know if it would even be overturned today. 100 officiating crews wouldn't throw a flag in the moment, and 100 wouldn't overturn it based on that video evidence.

I think it's easy to say they won on a fluke, but go back and watch the Bills comeback win over the Oilers: how many noncalls did Buffalo benefit from that day? Our historic (and in some ways, maybe franchise high water mark) could just as easily be discredited by Titans fans saying we only got back into it because the refs didn't want to make calls against the home team that was rolling.

Really, that's the essence of my post: watching the game as a whole--not just analyzing inches of ball movement, no *****, on a lateral pass--puts that play into context. The Bills got worked that day by more than the refs. The entire Titans organization beat them, from start to finish.

I appreciate your perspective, and your reply. Yeah, true, we've received favorable calls too (comeback game). Still does not make that call by the refs correct.

 

It was a forward pass. Do you disagree with that simple fact?

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No commentary on Byron Boston’s hit job?  The most blatant evidence that an official may have been paid off to referee an NFL game?

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5 minutes ago, Stranded in Boston said:

Thanks for the careful write-up, JohnnyG -- but did the Titans really play a THAT much (much) better of a game? I was (ahem) a little older than you at the time, and I remember the game differently. Certainly the numbers don't lie: Notwithstanding the Offside calls, the Bills D completely stifled Tennessee's prolific O that day, holding them to <200 total yards while toying with McNair and limiting star Eddie George to a pedestrian 3.5 yards/carry. Those stats alone negate the "much" better game argument, IMO. But I agree about Rob Johnson; my god, he was terrible -- and terrified. Tennessee had a great pass rush, and Johnson acted like a frozen deer in the headlights. What an amazingly stupid decision to start Johnson over Flutie under those conditions; for sure Flutie would have taken better advantage of Tenn's overly aggressive edge rushers, with his ability to make plays on the run. Also the Bills criminally underused Antowain Smith, who I always thought was underrated. Smith only had 14 carries in that game (at almost 6 yards a pop!), but ripped off some big runs, and got stronger as the game wore on. But in the end the only difference that mattered was that %$#@  forward lateral. Whatever one thinks of that play, the simple truth is this -- if the Bills had been at home, they would have gotten that call!

 

Watching the condensed replay of the contest, as the NFL network showed it, yes it seemed to me like the Titans played that much better.

Ironically, the closest game I can relate it to is the game last weekend against the Patriots.
In that case, the Bills were playing a much better team, both Ds showed up, and the Pats won with a flukey special teams play. The Bills showed some life on some long runs, and the QB never really got it going. 

The difference between those games is, the Titans had the "momentum" all day long--they drove the ball on several occassions, but ultimately turned it over. Also, in the Pats game last weekend, Allen killed any chances of winning with mistakes, whereas Rob Johnson killed any chances of winning just by lining up behind center. He never aggressively attempted to get the ball downfield, and the offense was simply stifled.

Throw in the obscene amount of penalties and the Bills really got their butts kicked.

Statistics have never interested me. Antoine had a high ypc, sure, but he also had one long run and a bunch of other pedestrian carries that did nothing.

Maybe the Bills would have gotten that call at home, but the only way that would have been a home game would be if they had been a 13-3 team, or even 14-2.

Lots of woulda/coulda/shouldas from this one, and I really don't want to sit here on a soap box and say that people are wrong for feeling whatever way about it, because 12 hours ago I was in the same boat, ha!

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I was a month shy of 16 myself. Watched the game with 2 good friends (Fins and Jags fans). 

What I recall from that game was that RJ was terrible (IIRC, he got the start against the Colts the week prior and the Bills blew them out...possibly the worst possible outcome besides a loss, since RW was so insistent on playing the QB that they highly-invested in, and that score helped the decision to play him over Flutie), but the defense was good, but put in a tough spot by the offense (QB) that day. Even still, the Bills did enough on offense to take a late lead.

 

As for the "miracle" at the end...I've always thought it was a forwars pass, or at least not a true backwards lateral, but there really wasn't enough "conclusive" evidence to overturn. I've had several non-biased fans tell me that it was a good lateral, and while I still have never been fully convinced, it's enough for me to live with the call (what choice do we have?). 

 

It was a roller coaster of emotion. When Christie made the kick, I jumped out of my chair and continued jumping with my arms up in celebration. After taking a late lead in a game that, in all honesty, the Bills offense didn't really deserve to win, the team as a whole did enough to give them a chance, and was suddenly staring victory in the face.

 

It was a different Bills team than what I had grown accustomed to seeing as a younger child in the early 90s (even though Reed and Smith were still there), but the feeling was back. I'm reminded of a quote from a commentator (Dierdorff?) from a Bills/Raiders playoff game in 93 or 94. It was like -15 that day, yet Hostettler and the Raiders had a considerable lead for much of the game. The Bills started making plays and made it a game, and he said something like "If there's one thing we know about the Bills, it's that you can never, ever, count them out"...a reference to the comeback game, among others by those early 90s teams. The Bills had just recaptured some of that in Nashville.

 

Then the "miracle" happened, and I went from pure elation, to literally falling to the floor in heartbreak in front of the friends that watched me celebrate prematurely (which I'm sure was a bit amusing to them, even though they knew the "pain" I just suffered). And as painful as that play was to watch, and then have to try and get over, the ensuing 17 years of playoff-less Bills football far exceeds thst pain IMO. Little did we know at that time, but that game and that play was truly the beginning of the end for what was overall a great decade of Bills football. Fitting that the game was played in early 2000. 

 

Since then, a lot of fans have said with conviction that that call prevented the Bills from a Super Bowl, but I never felt that way. Sure, the defense was great that year, but I always believed that there were at least 2 or 3 teams in the AFC that were better overall. And with what was going on upstairs in Buffalo that year, it was bound to unravel. Discord between head coach and owner, a QB controversy that was forced, older players from the glory years getting burnt out...there was too much going on with that team away from the field to overcome the offensive shortcomings that would have inevetebly persisted in the field woth RJ at QB, great defense and all.

 

Interestingly enough, we are currently wondering if our offense and special teams can improve enough to the point where our great defense won't be "wasted". Fortunately, there is far more competence and collectiveness upstairs now than there was back then. It is up to the players now (and Daboll), as there appears to be no level of discord going in away from the field. That is the difference between a "miracle" and 17 ensuing years of no playoffs, and a new HC breaking the drought in what was perceived to be a tank year for the Bills by outsiders (and many Bills fans as well...). 

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9 minutes ago, BUFFALOKIE said:

I appreciate your perspective, and your reply. Yeah, true, we've received favorable calls too (comeback game). Still does not make that call by the refs correct.

 

It was a forward pass. Do you disagree with that simple fact?

 

After 20 years, I can honestly say I have no idea if it was forward or not.

As a Bills fan, I can see it moving forward based on where the body positions of the players were when it was thrown and caught.

As an objective observer, I can see it moving laterally based on where the ball was released and caught.

I think the simplest way to phrase it is, let's say you meet the creator himself and ask him if it was a forward pass: he would say "yes, the ball moved forward an inch, but I would have made Dyson catch a 90 yard hail marry on the next play anyways and I had a famine to mitigate at 4pm that day so I had to move on, make yourself at home, Ralph's at the bar."

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1 hour ago, JohnnyGold said:

You should watch it again if you get the chance.

I had raw emotions about it too, like you, until last night.

The Bills played absolutely terrible. Their D kept them in it, but they lost to a better team that day. 

 

 

Wrong.  The Bills’ defense was outstanding. They held a very good Titans offense to 13 points and under 200 total yards on the road. I maintain that was the best defense in Bills’ history (although I think this year’s D could end up surpassing them).  Sure, the offense struggled, but the Titans had a great defense, too.  It was a heavyweight fight between two great defenses.  

 

Nothing in your write up supports your revisionist conclusion that the Bills sucked that day, or even that the better team won, although the latter is certainly possible.

 

Would you say the Bills played “absolutely terribly” against NE last week?  Of course not.    Such a statement completely ignores an amazing defensive effort and the fact that the other team’s defense was outstanding as well.

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2 hours ago, JohnnyGold said:

But it was, maybe, the worst performance from a Bills QB that I have ever seen

 

Then you, my friend, clearly weren’t in attendance for the Brian Brohm Experience in Atlanta a few days after Christmas 2009. People have given up their firstborn to avoid admitting they were there that day. 

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16 minutes ago, nedboy7 said:

 

For me it is not about who "deserves to win".  If you are arguing the actual call was good then that's fine.  But imo there is no such thing as to who deserved to win based on previous plays or history.  Otherwise they would base wins on performance and not points. 

 

If you believe in destiny, you think the "Music City Miracle" was meant to be, after the comeback game.

 

I used to believe in destiny, but I'm still not rich...

 

I am now a firm believer in karma and free will. Maybe the Bills got help in the comeback game (Beebe TD), and maybe the Titans got help in the MMM game, but karma played more of a rile than destiny. The Bills were seeing the effects of their own causes unfolding. 

 

Sure, we can say that we don't know how that game goes with Flutie at QB, and we can argue about how good or not good that Flutie was, but one thing he had that RJ didn't was elusiveness and escapability. Perhaps he fares better under pressure than RJ did that day (and pretty much every day), and has a little Flutie magic left in him. Maybe with Flutie, the Bills have a bigger lead, and a miraculous comeback would have been needed from the Titans, as opposed to one single play. If that were the case, and the Titans did it, maybe I would still believe in destiny.

 

Either way, the Bills were lying in the bed that they had made. 

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30 minutes ago, JohnnyGold said:

 

I know not every fan will see it that way, but the entire point of this thread was that after watching the entirety of the game last night, I changed my perspective on it, seeing how thoroughly they were outclassed that day. Like it or not: the Titans deserved to win and even though for a few minutes it looked like Buffalo had stolen victory, it wasn't meant to be.

How were the Bills “outclassed” by a team that they outgained and out-scored until the last play of the game?  

 

I agree with your take on the lateral, BTW.  It would have been wrong to overrule the call on the field.  It would have gone down in history as a travesty, and rightly so.

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