Great Moments in Buffalo Bills History - The Comeback Game vs Houston Oilers

Don't ever give up hope
Don't ever give up hope

Could The Buffalo Bills Be This Good Again?

A week one stomping of the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium might be an indication that the Bills are finally on the road to recovery. It's been a long time since the Buffalo Bills were a good team, so I thought I'd open up the video vault and take a look at one of my favorite games from the greatest Bills game ever, and according to many football fans the greatest football game ever. The game that became known simply as "The Comeback" was the highlight of that early-90's era for Bills fans, back when they dominated the AFC. Let's take a walk down memory lane to that wild card playoff game in Buffalo, 1993.

The Prelude

The story of The Comeback actually starts the week before the game. The Bills played the Houston Oilers in the final week of the regular season, and got crushed by a score of 27-3. Bills starting quarterback Jim Kelly injured his leg in that game and would not be available for the playoff game the following week in Buffalo. That meant backup QB Frank Reich would be in control, leaving many Bills fans nervous. 

Reich was hardly known to NFL fans. His most famous achievement came in 1984, when he filled in for an injured quarterback at Maryland with his team down 31-0 to the undefeated Miami Hurricanes and proceeded to orchestrate the then-greatest comeback in college football history, winning the game 42-40.  

The First Half

Warren Moon dominated the start of the game, completing 19 of his first 22 passes. The Oilers kept the Bills offense off the field, controlling the ball for over 21 minutes (out of a possible 30) in the first two quarters. As the teams went back into the tunnel at halftime, the Bills were down 28-3.

Bills defensive coordinator Walt Corey ripped into his defense in a profanity-laced tirade during halftime. Head coach Marv Levy told his team that they had 30 minutes left in the game, and no matter the outcome the players were going to have to live with themselves when it's done, and they better do something out on the field to make the feel good about themselves.

The Second Half

Their words did not immediately resonate with the team. On the Bills first drive of the second half, Frank Reich threw a interception that was returned for a touchdown, stretching the Houston lead to 32 points. It was after this touchdown that a Houston Oilers broadcaster made this statement on the air:

"The lights are on here at Rich Stadium, they've been on since this morning, you could pretty much turn them out on the Bills right now."

It all started with a gust of wind. A burst of air swept across the field of Rich Stadium just before Oilers kicker Al Del Greco's foot made contact with the football on the ensuing kickoff after the touchdown. The ball shifted, and Del Greco's kick only went about 15 yards. The Bills were able to recover the ball around midfield.

A 10 play drive took the Bills 50 yards and Kenneth Davis ran the ball in for the Bills first touchdown of the game. Houston still led the game, 35-10.

On the Bills kickoff, kicker Steve Christie did something bold. He kicked an onside kick, but not to the left or right side of the field. Instead, he kicked it straight up the middle. He ran just behind the ball, then slid as the ball passed the required 10 yard mark and recovered it himself before being jumped on by several Oilers players. It remains one of the few instances in football history where a kicker has recovered his own onside kick, and he actually did it intentionally.

Several plays later, Frank Reich connected with Don Beebe for a 38-yard touchdown pass.  

  • Houston Oilers - 35  Buffalo Bills - 17.

The Bills forced the Oilers to punt for the first time in the game on their next drive, the first time the Bills defense had shown any life in this game. Three plays later, the Bills scored again with a touchdown pass to Andre Reed.

  • Houston Oilers - 35  Buffalo Bills - 24.

Warren Moon threw an interception on their next drive, and the Bills offense got to start with the ball on the Oilers 23 yard line. The Bills were faced with a 4th down and 5 a few plays later, and they were well within field goal range. Instead, Levy decided to go for it, and it paid off when Reich threw a touchdown pass to Andre Reed.

  • Houston Oilers - 35  Buffalo Bills - 31. 

The Oilers and Bills went up and down the field in the 4th quarter but both squandered opportunities to score. The Bills finally broke through with a touchdown with 3 minutes left in the game, giving them the lead for the first time in the game.

  • Houston Oilers - 35  Buffalo Bills - 38

The Oilers weren't quite finished. The put together a brilliant drive that was capped by a game tying field goal at the end of regulation time.

  • Houston Oilers - 38  Buffalo Bills - 38 

The Oilers won the coin toss in overtime and chose to receive the ball first. On third down, Warren Moon would make his final pass of the season. The ball was intercepted by Nate Odomes. The Bills offense took over and drove the ball another 20 yards before bringing out Steve Christie to attempt a field goal. The 32-yard kick was good, giving the Bills the victory.

  • Final Score: Houston Oilers - 38  Buffalo Bills - 41 

Bills vs. Oilers - The Comeback Video Highlights has been removed. The No Fun League doesn't want us watching decades old football games without getting their c

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Cody Hodge profile image

Cody Hodge 4 years ago

Even as an 8 year-old, I sort of understood how epic that game was. However, if the same thing were to happen today, I don't think I would have believed it. Too bad the game was blacked out.

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