This is number five on my list of worst moments or games in the history of the Buffalo Bills. As hard as some of these moments have been, we Bills fans wear our hearts on sleeves and consider some of these events badges of honor. Enjoy.
I am back after a hiatus with my list of all time worst Bills moments. If you have ever moved out of state, you know what a pain in the butt it is. But I am back and ready to make your day (or not, whichever way you look at these painful reminders).
If you are a hardcore fan that remembers each Super Bowl like it was yesterday, you might agree with me that that the middle two were almost like a blur. Everyone remembers Norwood, and Dallas beating us a second straight time on their way to becoming a 90’s dynasty. But what really passes a lot of people by, and easily, are the shellacking’s that the Bills took at the hands of Washington and Dallas in Super Bowl’s 26 and 27.
The 1991 regular season was arguably the best in team history. The team selected defensive cornerstones in Henry Jones and Phil Hansen in the April draft on their way to a 13-3 season. The Bills were rarely threatened week in and week out as they topped thirty points in games nine times.
The season was split into two halves as they had their bye week after week 8. Save a meaningless three point home loss to a very good Detroit Lions team the last week of the season, the Bills lost just one game in each half. They picked up right where they left off after the Super Bowl run, erasing any doubt about the teams staying power in the AFC.
In the divisional round of the playoffs in which the Bills were the AFC’s top seed, they avenged a week six spanking at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs by dismantling them 37-14. Things were a bit tougher the next week against John Elway and the Denver Broncos as both teams went into halftime scoreless. Jeff Wright and Carlton Bailey ended the boredom in the third quarter when Wright tipped an Elway pass at the line and Bailey ran it in for a touchdown from a short field out. The Bills added a field goal and held off a Denver charge to advance to their second straight Super Bowl.
The 1993 season saw a veteran savvy team led once again by Jim Kelly. As the team posted a stellar 11-5 record, they struggled down the stretch; losing three of their last five and the AFC East title to the Miami Dolphins. While they were unstoppable on offense the first four games of the season, they only scored over thirty points in a game once the rest of the way out.
Still, hopes were high even though fans knew that the team would have to go through enemy territory most of the playoffs, and that they did. After completing the greatest comeback in NFL history against Houston(come on, I don’t even have to talk about that one), they took apart the top seeded Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 and then marched into Miami and won an especially sweet AFC title by beating the rival Dolphins.
This playoff run could be considered one of the greatest in NFL history. Greatest comeback in league history, followed by knocking off the conference number one and then defeating a division rival that gave the team fits in the regular season. This culminated in a third straight Super Bowl for the Bills. Unfortunately these were essentially side notes that preceded the horror shows that fans witnessed in the Super Bowls that would follow these achievements.
I group the middle Super Bowl’s together because as I’ve previously said they seemed like a big blur to me and probably do to a lot of fans. They lost by a combined score of 89-41. So much can be said about the games. They were never in it, they looked unprepared, and they had bad luck. Whatever your view point is, bottom line is it was bad. Really bad.
Super Bowl 26 against Washington featured the league’s best offense versus the league’s best and nastiest defense. A bad omen popped up from the very first play the Bills ran when Thurman Thomas lost his helmet and missed the first handful of offensive plays. From there on out the Bills were physically manhandled by the Redskins. They didn’t score a single point in the first half.
Late in the first half, Andre Reed felt that he was interfered with on a pass play that would have set the Bills deep in Washington territory with a chance to get back into the game. This was a common occurrence, as the Bills’ wide receivers seemed to be getting mobbed all game with no pass interference calls. In what was a microcosm of the game and Buffalo’s Super Bowl run as well, Reed angrily slammed his helmet down to the turf which resulted in a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, effectively knocking them out of field goal range.
As the Bills were heading into halftime down 17-0, Marv Levy shouted at the referee’s “you’ve been bought!” Probably not, but he was echoing what we all thought at the time. The second half was tough to get through, as Kelly was knocked out with a concussion as the Redskins continued to physically destroy the Bills. Points were put up, as the Bills actually outscored Washington over the final two quarters. But they built themselves too big of a hole in the first half and they could not catch up, and the Bills lost their second straight Super Bowl.
Super Bowl 27 was going to be “IT.” After the playoff run the Bills had, they seemed like a team of destiny. The Dallas Cowboys had a better regular season record than the Bills, but no one seemed to care. Third time’s a charm. The Bills were going to break through and finally win the big one. Buffalo native Tim Russert, host of NBC’s “Meet The Press” and avid Bills fan, claimed Dallas didn’t need it because they already have the world. Let Buffalo have it for once.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t hear Russert’s plea. This was the most embarrassing of the four Super Bowl’s. Frank Reich played the end but there was no comeback this time. The only bright spot of the 52-17 loss was Don Beebe chasing Leon Lett down the sidelines to save a touchdown and add another goofy mistake to Lett’s career.
In hindsight, these two Super Bowls were simply just flashes. Bad nightmares. You couldn’t watch yet at the same time you couldn’t look away. It was also amazing how these games would affect the general public’s viewpoint on the Bills franchise forever. Losing the first one was tough and people felt bad for the Bills. Losing a second and a third and pity turns into snickers and laughs. Pretty soon the Bills became punch lines. We’ve all heard the jokes and the B.I.L.L.S.: Boy I love Losing Super Bowls, although I’m not sure where the “B” on the “Bowls” comes into play.
One of these days we all hope they make it back to the big show, yet one can’t help but think could we handle another Super Bowl loss, especially if there is a similar result? I don’t know, but I would love to find out.