Let’s continue with the miracle theme, shall we?
The first part of this history lesson should probably focus on reframing your perspective: there was a time in the not-so-distant past when it wasn’t at all abnormal for the Buffalo Bills to be perennial playoff hopefuls. Really. The 80’s and 90’s were the Bills’ golden years. They made the playoffs 10 out of 12 years in those decades, and even went to four Super Bowls back to back to back to back in the 90’s. They didn’t win any of them, but still, that’s a huge feat.
Then, in the ’99 season wildcard round in an away game against the Titans, something happened. And the Bills haven’t made a post-season appearance since.
That something, as you might surmise, was the Music City Miracle.
It was the 4th quarter. The Bills had just taken a 1-point lead by kicking a 41-yard field goal and were kicking it off to the Titans with 16 seconds remaining. The Bills objective was clear: do anything to run out the next 16 seconds and prevent the Titans from getting into field goal range.
Bills kicker Steve Christie kicked the ball off, and the Titans’ Lorenzo Neal made a standard catch. He then pitched it back to tight end Frank Wycheck, who threw it across the field to Kevin Dyson. Dyson proceeded to run, untouched, 75-yards for the touchdown, and the victory.
But it would be a few minutes before that victory was confirmed. Throwing a forward pass during a kickoff return is illegal, and if Wycheck’s pass had landed further ahead than where it was thrown, the touchdown would be revoked. It had to have been a lateral pass – a pass that goes either perfectly sideways or behind (and is legal at any point in the game).
The ref goes in. The ref comes out.
It was a lateral. Titans win a Music City Miracle, and eventually advance to the Super Bowl.
(That “1 Yard”? That’s another significant history lesson you can be looking forward to next week!)