The Comeback vs. Houston
January 3, 1993
After consecutive Super Bowl appearances following the 1990 and '91 seasons, the Bills finished 11-5 in 1992, but lost the division title to Miami on the conference-record tiebreaker. As a result, their journey back to the Super Bowl would have to begin on January 3, 1993 with a home game vs. the Houston Oilers.
The Bills got off to a slow start as the Houston offense enjoyed a 21:12 time of possession edge in the game's first 30 minutes. Houston averaged 7.3 yards per offensive play behind quarterback Warren Moon's 19 of 22 passing for 218 yards and four touchdowns - a 147.5 passer rating. At halftime, the Bills trailed the Oilers 28-3.
The second half start was no better. Fewer than two minutes into the third quarter, the Bills yielded a 58-yard interception-return touchdown and fell behind 35-3. However, with 13:15 remaining in the third quarter, the Bills embarked on the greatest comebacks in NFL history, which in 1999 was chosen by fans as the Fifth Most Memorable NFL Game of the Century in voting on NFL.com.
Here's How It Happened:
After allowing the INT-return touchdown, the Bills drove 50 yards in 10 plays on their next possession, capping the drive on a Kenneth Davis' one-yard touchdown run. Houston 35, Buffalo 10.
Bills kicker Steve Christie then recovered his own onside kick. Four plays later, Bills quarterback Frank Reich, starting for an injured Jim Kelly, connected with Don Beebe on a 38-yard touchdown. Houston 35, Buffalo 17.
The Bills' defense produced a three-and-out on the ensuing Houston possession and Buffalo took over on its own 41-yard line. Five plays later, Reich hit Andre Reed for a 26-yard touchdown. Houston 35, Buffalo 24.
Two plays into the Oilers' next drive, Bills safety Henry Jones intercepted a deflected Moon pass and returned it 15 yards to the Houston 23-yard line. The Bills gained five yards on three plays and faced a fourth-and-five. Time out, Buffalo. Reich convinced Levy to go for it on fourth down. He then saw Reed break away from the safety and hit him on the goal line for 18 yards and a touchdown. Houston 35, Buffalo 31. In a span of six minutes and 52 seconds, the Bills had cut their deficit from 32 points to four.
After the teams traded punts, Moon led the Oilers on a 76-yard drive early in the fourth quarter over seven-and-a-half minutes. Houston then caught a break. A Buffalo interception was wiped out by a penalty called on the Bills' for a late-hit foul against Moon.
The Oilers reached the Buffalo 14-yard line and set up for a field goal. It was then that the Bills received some help from above - it started raining. Montgomery fumbled the snap and kicker Al Del Greco recovered but the Oilers had turned the ball over on downs.
Buffalo then drove 74 yards in seven plays into the wind, taking the lead on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Reich to Reed - the duo's third scoring connection in little more than 16 minutes. Buffalo 38, Houston 35.
Moon then led Houston 63 yards in 12 plays, setting up the game-tying 26-yard Del Greco field goal with 12 seconds remaining. Buffalo 38, Houston 38.
The game went to overtime and the Oilers won the coin flip but after two completions for seven yards, Moon faced a third-and three from the Houston 27. It was then that Bills safety Nate Odomes stepped in front of a Moon pass at the 37 and returned it to the 35. The Bills gained 15 more yards on a penalty when Odomes was grabbed by his facemask.
After two Davis rushes for six yards, Christie kicked a 32-yard field goal 3:06 into overtime. Buffalo 41, Houston 38.
In addition to keeping their Super Bowl hopes alive (the Bills would win their next two on the road to make that third consecutive appearance), Buffalo set an NFL record. Their 32-point comeback victory remains the largest in NFL history.