Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3, 1993: The Buffalo Bills Pull Off The Biggest Comeback In NFL History

On January 3, 1993, in front of a home crowd in Orchard Park, New York down 28-3 at the half then 35-3 early in the third quarter, Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Frank Reich led his team to an improbable 41-38 overtime victory in the first round of the playoffs. It was and still is the biggest comeback in the history of the NFL. It seemed that Murphy's law was in full effect for the Bills, they had lost their starting QB Jim Kelly in the last game of the season, all-pro linebacker Cornelius Bennett was out due to injury, and their starting running back Thurman Thomas suffered an injury in the second half. Facing the insurmountable deficit Reich and the Bills just wanted to put together something that gave them respectability as they were being embarrassed by Warren Moon's squad out of Houston. Reich was no stranger to the huge comeback, in 1984 he led the Maryland Terrapins to a 42-40 victory over the Miami Hurricanes after being down 31-0 and he was about to make history once again. In the first half Moon built the Houston lead with four touchdown passes from 3,7,26, and 27 yards out as he was torching the Bills secondary. After the half it seemed as if the Oilers drove another nail into the proverbial coffin when Reich was picked off by Bubba McDowell who took it 58 yards into the endzone and opened up the lead to 35-3. It might have looked like the nail driven but Reich and company came storming back with four touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-31. It all started with a one yard run by Ken Davis, then Steve Christie recovered his own onside kick and 56 seconds later Reich found Don Beebe on a 38 yard hookup and the Bills were in business. The Buffalo defense found a way to stymie the Houston offense and Reich finished off the four touchdown quarter by connecting with Andre Reed on touchdowns from 26 and 18 yards out to cut Houston's lead to 35-31.  Reed was also the recipient of the touchdown that gave the Bills a 38-35 lead in the fourth, it was a 16 yard catch and score and the comeback looked to be complete. Warren Moon had other ideas, he helped drive his team 63 yards before Al Del Greco booted a 26 yard game tying field goal with just 12 seconds to go in regulation. It was gonna take overtime to determine a winner and on this day Buffalo would not be denied. Houston won the toss and took over on the 20, two plays later Moon was picked off by Nate Odomes which setup the game winning field goal by Christie, a 32 yarder that put the icing on the 41-38 cake. The Bills came into the game as two time defending AFC Champions, after the unbelievable comeback Reich would lead them to another win over the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 before Kelly and Thomas returned to the field and helped lead the team to a 29-10 over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Title game. Their run would end in Super Bowl XVII when the Bills were knocked off 52-17 but that road to the Super Bowl would not be forgotten, especially that one game. It will be talked about for many years to come.

The comeback win was one for the ages. You can check the box score out here: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199301030buf.htm I remember watching it and I can tell you this I'm glad I didn't turn the channel. At the time I didn't root for either team so the comeback was just an absolute great game in my eyes. I'm sure the fans of the Bills were besides themselves while the fans of the Oilers were shocked and stunned by the turn of events. I bet there were quite a few fans that either left the game or turned off the television as they couldn't bear watching the beatdown they were witnessing. One lesson that can be taken from that is to not give up even when the chips are down. Stay tuned because you might just witness something great.

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