This past week was Wild Card Weekend in the 2021 NFL season. Of course, my Los Angeles Rams blew the doors off the Arizona Cardinals to set up a crucial NFC Divisional round tilt against Tom Brady and the defending champion, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were a couple of really good games—the Bengals’ victory over the Raiders and the 49ers surviving the Cowboys—but most of them were kinda laughers. I’m expecting a little bit better this weekend with the Rams, Packers, Titans, and Bills as victors. All of this NFL playoff talk reminds me of the greatest NFL playoff game I’ve ever seen. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Bills-Oilers 1993 AFC Wild Card Game AKA The Comeback.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the game as it happened…on January 3, 1993. It was playing on NBC Sports at a time when NBC Sports had television rights to the AFC football games.
What it meant to me then? As I noted in this post almost 7 years ago, I cheered for the Buffalo Bills because of Steve Christie. That only came into being because of his game-winning kick in overtime of this particular game, which capped off the 32-point comeback. After seeing Oilers quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon torch the Bills secondary for 4 first-half touchdown passes en route to a 28-3 lead, I thought the game was over. When Frank Reich threw that pick-6 to start the 3rd quarter, everything in me said it was over. Hell, my dad was watching and said it was over. What happened after that was history. The Bills score 28 points in 12 minutes to go into the 4th down by 4. They actually had the lead late until the Oilers tied it with 10 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Of course, in overtime, it was Steve Christie that won it from 32 yards out.
What it means to me now? As I look back on this game 29 years later, I believe it led to the downfall of the Houston Oilers. Just a few years later, they relocated to Memphis to become the Tennessee Oilers and eventually the Tennessee Titans via the move to Nashville. The Bills followed up the thrilling Wild Card win by going on the road and destroying the Steelers and the Dolphins to win the AFC championship, advancing to Super Bowl XXVII. They fell into another hole against the Dallas Cowboys but there was no such repeat of heroics as “America’s Team” routed them 52-17. Still, the game in Orchard Park 4 weeks earlier is the endearing moment from that season and it survives with me today as one of the most amazing games of football I’ve ever seen…at any level.