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January 03, 2019

The game isn't over until the clock reads all zeroes and the Houston Oilers learned the hard way on this date in 1993.

The NFL Wild Card Playoff games were underway as the Oilers faced off against the Buffalo Bills, a team the Oilers had defeated 27-3 in the final game of the NFL regular season. The Oilers had also knocked out the Bill's QB Jim Kelly in the regular season game, forcing the Bills to roll with Frank Reich to close out that game and play in the Wild Card rematch.

The Oilers dominated early and often as Warren Moon had more touchdowns (4) than incompletions (3) in the first half. The Oilers' offense not only put up an absurd amount of points in the first half, they also managed to control the clock and kept Buffalo's offense off the field. The Bills would manage just a field goal, leaving them with a 28-3 deficit heading into the second half.

There would've been plenty of points where it'd be easy for a player to simply give up. The team was getting blown out at home and the Bills seemingly couldn't get anything going on offense or stop the Oilers offense on defense. But Reich was no stranger to staging a comeback.

In college, Reich lead the Maryland Terrapins to the biggest comeback in college football history (at that time) when he helped erase a 31-0 deficit against the Bernie Kosar-lead Miami Hurricanes. The Terrapins wound up winning the game by the score of 42-40.

Still, the second half got off to a less than stellar start for the Bills as Reich would throw an interception to Bubba McDowell who would return it for a touchdown, stretching the Oilers lead to 35-3. But it was after this play in which the breaks finally started to go the way of the Buffalo Bills.

The wind would cause the ball to move as the Oilers kicked off, allowing the Bills to recover the football in prime position. The Bills would score a touchdown and recover a subsequent onside kick. Reich would connect with wide receiver Don Beebe for a 33-yard touchdown reception that should've been ruled as illegal contact as Beebe stepped out of bounds prior to catching the pass.

The Bills would force the Oilers to punt on their next drive and would again score another touchdown, trimming the deficit to 35-24.  In a span of 10 minutes in the third quarter, the Bills ran 18 plays, gained 176 yards, and scored 21 points, while stifling the Oilers' offense to 3 plays for 3 yards.

Houston's woes continued as Moon threw an interception on the Oilers next drive which gave the Bills great starting field position again. Reich would throw a touchdown pass on a fourth down play that put the Bills within four points of their adversary. In just under seven minutes, the Bills went from down by 32 to just down by four points.

As the final minutes ticked by in the fourth quarter, Reich would toss another touchdown pass to Andre Reed that gave Buffalo it's first lead of the game. Moon would lead the Oilers on a final drive to score a field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The Oilers would win the coin toss in overtime and looked to be back in a groove until Moon's 50th pass attempt of the day. Bills DB Nate Odomes intercepted the pass and after a facemask penalty, put the Bills in starting position at the Oilers' 20 yard line. Two plays later, the Bills kicked a field goal to cap off the greatest comeback in NFL history.

 


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