The Music City Miracle deserves a deep rewind

The Music City Miracle deserves a deep rewind

– It’s January 8th, 2000. We’re at Adelphia Coliseum
in Nashville, Tennessee. Having just taken a one-point lead, the Buffalo Bills are kicking off and hoping that 16 seconds
won’t be enough time for the Titans to score. It’s a reasonable hope. This wild card matchup has
been a defensive slugfest where points had been at a premium and all sorts of other gridiron cliches, so it’d be asking a lot for
Tennessee to pull this out. But as they gather the kick, they’re far from ready for
their incredible season to end, and what comes next will make us forget that there was even a game
leading up to this moment. So, let’s rewind. (ambient electronic music) Look at this cluster of Titans. If you were in need of
some late-game heroics, this is not exactly
what you would draw up, so let’s celebrate Tennessee while we can. For the last three seasons, this team had been the
picture of mediocrity. As the Houston Oilers
became the Tennessee Oilers, they remained constant in their 8-8 ways. But after they fled Houston, they became wanderers of western Tennessee searching for some permanency, and along with it a home field advantage. In 1998 they missed the playoffs in part due to the five games lost in front of their quote-unquote home crowd at Vanderbilt Stadium, three of which were one-score games, and had they won two of those, it would’ve guaranteed
them a playoff spot. The pressure was turned up,
and it was felt by everyone, from the players to the front office. GM Floyd Reese admitted that there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room. The team hadn’t won a playoff
game since the ’91 season. Hell, they didn’t even have an appearance since their franchise cornerstones Steve McNair and Eddie
George joined the team. But 1999 offered a fresh start. They opened up the Adelphia Coliseum, started going by the Titans, and got a new defensive piece
that completely wrecked shop. Jevon Kearse came to Nashville
as a first-round pick and immediately helped
alleviate that pressure by causing some of his own. He was the NFL Defensive
Rookie of the Month for September, November, and December, and was voted to start in the Pro Bowl. That meant the defense
finally had a wrecking ball to match that of the offense. George once again cruised, this time setting career highs in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. And with an actual dedicated fan base that sold out every home game, they were unstoppable at the Coliseum. That included a Week 16
dismantling of Jacksonville, the kings of the league that year. Tennessee gave them their
only two losses on the season, and the Titans set a new
franchise-best record at 13-3. Unfortunately, since no one
else could beat the Jags, that meant the Titans could
only claim a wild card spot. And now, playing host in the stadium where they’ve never lost, that’s looking to change in
the most painful of ways. It hurts extra because at halftime, it felt like the Titans had this thing practically wrapped up, but clearly they’ve duffed it. During the scoreless first quarter, the teams swapped three-and-outs, the Bills had a turnover, and the Titans had a missed field goal. It was not the prettiest football, but at the start of the second quarter, Kearse found a way to
profit from the ugly play. On 2nd and 6, he sacked
the retreating Rob Johnson in the end zone, forcing a
fumble that bounced out the back and gave Tennessee a 2-0 lead. On the ensuing free kick, Titans receiver Derrick Mason
took the ball from the 30, returned it 42 yards and set
his team up in scoring position at the Buffalo 28. After three straight runs by George, McNair kept it himself
from the one-yard line, found the corner and
extended the Titans’ lead. The score held at 9-0
until just before halftime. After defensive holding
negated a 45-yard miss, Al Del Greco hit from 40 and gave Tennessee a 12-0 lead. Considering their defense
had kept the Bills to 65 total yards of
offense in the first half, there was reason to be optimistic. Or, there had been. Now with 16 seconds left
and the Bills kicking off, the Titans need some magic. Granted, if they do lose here, at least it’s to the Buffalo Bills, a team synonymous with playoff contender. But, today’s Buffalo team,
one-point lead and all, they’re out in front despite
just a touch of drama. Remember that quarterback
Kearse sacked for a safety? So, he wasn’t the guy that led them here. The credit for that goes to Doug Flutie, who has hung out on the
sideline today in full health. After eight seasons in the CFL, Flutie returned stateside, signing with the Bills in early 1998. But as the team tried to
quickly distance themselves from the Todd Collins experiment and find success in a
post-Jim Kelly world, a few weeks after Flutie signed, he was relegated to backup duty. They sent a first and a fourth to Jacksonville for Rob Johnson, a man with one career
start in three seasons, but it was good enough to be wanted. He was immediately named the starter and given a $25 million contract. That would be the high
point of his season. Once the games began, it wasn’t great. The first three weeks all ended in defeat, and he got battered,
taking 17 sacks combined during Buffalo’s second and third games. And after getting a win in week five, he was knocked out of the following game from a sack on just the third play. This finally opened the door for Flutie, who led the Bills to
a come-from-behind win against the Colts which
included 24 unanswered. After three more victories, Flutie was finally named the starter. He took Buffalo into the
playoffs with a 10-6 record, was named the NFL’s
Comeback Player of the Year, but by the following training camp, all it earned him was the label of co-number one with Johnson. Flutie was eventually
announced as the starter, but not until just before Week One. And while he didn’t have
quite as magical of a season, Flutie did put together a 10-5 record that locked Buffalo into a playoff spot. He got a big boost from the defense. They not only led the league
in fewest yards allowed, but gave up more than
six points less per game than they had a year ago. Flutie had veterans all around him, including some living
legends who many expected were making a final playoff
push to cap off their careers. While his season was somewhat
derailed by injuries, Thurman Thomas was still
a force at running back and became a much-appreciated
leader in the locker room. Their league-leading defense
was anchored by Bruce Smith. Now 36, the defensive end
continued to pile up sacks, but made it clear his absurd career was still missing something. And then there was Andre Reed. For a moment, it looked
like Flutie would lose one of his safety valves
coming into the season, but the receiver came to
an agreement with Buffalo and put together a solid 15th year. As they headed into their final
regular season game, though, many expected to soon say
farewell to the legendary Bill. And then Week 17 happened. On paper, it was great. Buffalo held the 13-2
Colts to just six points, they gained some more momentum heading into the playoffs, and Flutie got some rest
as Johnson came in to play an essentially meaningless game. But then with the wild card game looming, head coach Wade Phillips
decided to make a QB change and actually roll with Johnson. It was met by just a bit of criticism, which even Buffalo GM
John Butler acknowledged. But he added that talent
just oozed out of Johnson, and that the head coach had
seen that in practice every day. I suppose just not enough
talent had oozed from him to dethrone Flutie during
the regular season. Few supported the move
given the circumstances, and the quarterback who had worked so hard to get to this point didn’t
hide his frustration. For the Bills, they were just hoping for a change in fortune. While they had missed just two
of the last 12 postseasons, the success that previously eluded them in the cruelest of ways was now rarely even flirting with them. It was a move to hopefully capture a magic similar to what propelled
them past this very franchise earlier this decade in
arguably the greatest comeback in NFL postseason history, and as you now know, it’s worked. How, though? It obviously didn’t start great. Johnson has arguably been
bad, and yet we’re here, Bills up one with 16 seconds left. After being shut out in the first half, Buffalo got an immediate
spark in the third quarter. Smith went right tackle
on the very first snap, cut back to the left and
rattled off a quick 44-yard gain that ended in the red zone. A few plays later and
Smith powered through to put Buffalo on the board. He’d do it again from one yard out at the start of the fourth quarter, which gave the Bills a one-point lead, but a failed two-point conversion kept the score at 13-12. After trading punts,
Tennessee got the ball back with 6:15 remaining. They used nine plays to go 27 yards, forced Buffalo to use
their last two timeouts, and Del Greco connected from 36 yards out to put the Titans up two. So with 1:41 left, the Bills took over. Johnson had a chance
to prove Phillips right in giving him the start,
and with no timeouts, Johnson did just that. With the clock ticking,
he capped off the drive by escaping the pressure
and finding Peerless Price near the right sideline. Price shook off his tackler
and made it out of bounds. What’s even wilder is Johnson did this with just one shoe on,
having lost it a play before. In field goal range and
with 20 seconds left, Phillips had seen enough. He sent out Steve Christie for the 41-yard field goal attempt, and Buffalo’s kicking woes of
the past remained behind them. And nothing’s changed
between then and now. 16 seconds left, Buffalo kicking off, and the Titans running out of hope. But as they prepare to go for broke, we need to look at the miracle workers on the field for Tennessee. Among others, we’ve got
Frank Wycheck, Kevin Dyson, and catching the ball here, Lorenzo Neal. Neal’s a newcomer to the team,
but an immediately key piece. He stepped in and in front of George, clearing the way during
another Pro Bowl season for the running back. As for Wycheck, he was
McNair’s favorite target during the season and the
team’s leading pass catcher. He’d even gotten to show
off his arm in Week 15 when he threw a 61-yard
touchdown pass to Isaac Byrd. And then there’s Dyson, the former first-round pick
that the Titans selected over Randy Moss. The second-year player
that coaches had hoped would step up during the regular season. But after a monster Week One, he almost completely disappeared, including a three-week stretch of single-digit yardage gains. Realistically, he shouldn’t
even be on the field, not because up to this point he’s been somewhat of a disappointment, but more so since that spot normally would go to Derrick Mason. Mason had won the return duties
leading up to the season, but partially due to
a lack of competition. In their season preview, ESPN have little hope for
Tennessee’s special teams units, guessing that they were
due for a return touchdown since they hadn’t had one in five years. That wasn’t setting the bar too high, but Mason managed to clear it. He not only took a punt
back for a score in Week 12, but became the first player to
have over 1,000 return yards for the franchise since they left Texas. And now, when his team
needs their best return man, Mason’s on the sideline
after an earlier injury. Like McNair and George, he’s left to watch with
the rest of the Titans as their incredible
run comes down to this. In Mason’s place is a receiver
who has never returned a kick of any sort in
his short NFL career. It’s possibly the final 16
seconds of Tennessee’s season in front of their new home crowd that has backed them the whole way. For Buffalo, this could
start a new chapter and prove the franchise is capable of finding a fresh identity after the letdown that was the ’90s. To do that, they just have to keep Neal, Wycheck, and Dyson contained, and hope the clock can hit zeroes without the score changing. No one knows what’s to
come with this return, but no one will forget
this when it’s over. Welcome to a moment in history. – [Announcer] Lorenzo Neal at the 25. Pitches it back to Wycheck. He throws it across the field to Dyson. – He’s got something!
– 30! – He’s got something!
– 40, 50! – He’s got it!
– 40! – He’s got it!
– 30! 20, 10!
– He’s got it! – Five, end zone! Touchdown, Titans! Tennessee has pulled a miracle! – [Will] Hey, thanks for watching. If you want to relive what
happened to the Titans later in these same playoffs, check out this Rewinder, and don’t forget to
subscribe to SB Nation, and if you want to, you can
hit the bell for notifications. I mean, I would just really appreciate it.

100 thoughts on “The Music City Miracle deserves a deep rewind

  1. had wade Phillips not started Johnson and instead started Flutie, Titans don't win this game.  and i'm a titans fan too.

  2. As much as it would pain me as a Tigers fan, you guys should do a rewind on the 2013 ALCS “Boston Cop” moment.

  3. Would love to see a rewinder on these hockey moments:

    Darren McCarty series winning game 4 goal in 1997 vs Philadelphia

    Patrice Bergeron game 7 OT winner vs Toronto 2013

    Paul Kariya game 6 goal vs NJ in 2003 Stanley Cup finals

    Patrik Stefan missed empty netter vs Edmonton in 2007

  4. Aight, get working on a Rewinder for Kawhi Leonard's game 7 buzzer beater against the 76ers. It set up the Rap's championship.

  5. music city miracle??? please, they were just lucky that they weren't penalized by the refs for a forward pass. prove me wrong.

  6. The first mistake they made was kicking it short and letting them catch it at the 25. In normal circumstances, that already puts the other team at the 40. Which leaves them time for one play to get about 20 yards from, or the bare minimum a shot at a hail mary.

  7. I have a rewinder idea. 1986-87 World Series. Twins Vs. Cardinals. Game Six. Cards lead the series 3-2. Minnesota enters the Bottom of the Sixth up by only one run and looking to put the game out of reach for the Cardinals and force a Game 7. Bases are loaded with Gagne, Puckett, and Baylor. To the plate steps Kent Hrbek. You may know what's about to happen but do you know what just happened? Time to rewind.

  8. Cricket World Cup would be a good episode. And since you lived in England, that should be easy for you to understand the game.
    Wasim Akrams back to back dismissals in the '92 Final would be great to see.

  9. Ik this is outdated but if you do a rewind we on ‘the decision’ then you have to make an episode on Kevin Durant becoming a snake and leaving the best team I mean the thunder

  10. Gonna throw this out there. Kings vs Habs game 2 McSorley called for an illegal stick… Come on SB Nation do it!

  11. Well that was a horrible ending for this video . . so much extra fluff in there that we don't care about, and then you never talk about the actual play !!!!

  12. I was 8 years old and a proud Bills fan when this happened. It sucked and I still maintain that it was a forward pass.

  13. Bill's fan here, sorry to dislike your vid, but it's my duty. We'll be back to the divisionals sometime.

  14. I don't know if this will ever be seen but please do the 2008 mens 4×100 freestyle relay from the Beijing olympics, Michael Phelps 2nd gold medal on the way to winning 8 in one olympics. I don't like swimming that much but that was the most amazing finish to a race ever seen, even the announcers were in disbelief

  15. That lateral to Dyson still looks like a forward pass to me. But I don't have a dog in the fight. It made for an interesting Super Bowl.

  16. That looked like a forward pass, but then I looked at it frame by frame. That ball flew perfectly parallel with the 25 yard line.

  17. Kinda starting to dig on your rewinds. They're pretty well done and ur take is pretty in the middle and dry and funny.

  18. It's still as clear that it was forward lateral, the guy is Behind the 25 he catches Past the 25, no miracle, just a case why instant replay was necessary

  19. Can we talk about how Wade Phillips kicked a field goal with 20 seconds on the clock rather than take a knee, run clock then kick?

  20. As a Vikings fan, I'm boycotting this video. Bills fans are our brothers and sisters in suffering, and I for one won't be a part of it.

  21. Amazing that both the biggest comeback in NFL history (In the playoffs as well mind you) and the Music City Miracle involved games between these two franchises.

  22. It was the owner that actually benched flutie because he was paying rob Johnson so much money he wanted him to start wade just gets all the blame

  23. Idea for next rewinder: Pete Webber who do you think you are, I am!

  24. It actually wasn't Wade Phillips choice to start Rob Johnson in that playoff game it was actually the general manager and the team owner. Because they were paying him a lot of money and he wasn't really doing anything and they thought it was a good decision because at it the last game of the year which was meaningless. Rob Johnson threw four touchdown passes against the Colts.. if you would ask former coach Wade Phillips about that wild card game he would say that if we would have started Doug Flutie that game that. Is that the Buffalo Bills would have won that game and I believe it as well what horrible decision about the front office 2 start a quarterback who struggle in the beginning and only look good I can't stay meaningless game and to start him over a guy that's completely fresh and one of the reasons why they were winning I felt bad for the bills fence because they had a witness that

  25. Rewind of "The Play", Elways final college game as he enters the NFL with no bowl wins and simply the craziest play in football history with one of the best game calls. "THe band is on the field!"

  26. I was a kid back in the hay day of the Titans, and I really liked them- they were one of my favorite teams in all of sports. I remember this game and it was amazing.

  27. Rob Johnson was basically Matt Flynn before Matt Flynn. He balled out during a meaningless game, and keep getting chances based on that 1 games.

    Doug Flutie wasn’t just better than Rob Johnson, he’s the best QB they’ve had Period since Jim Kelly.

  28. I watched this game. Originally I was going to root for the Bills, but instead rooted for the Titans due to how Buffalo treated Flute, benching the QB who got them to the playoffs in favor of starting Johnson, who played poorly before getting injured. I believe that it was karma that beat the Bills that day.

  29. I think that play may very well be one, if not THE, greatest plays I personally witnessed. It was amazing. Wish we could've capped it off with a Super Bowl win.

  30. If Flutie would have played and not a QB that only completed 10 passes in this game, Bills would have Won
    Just remember Bills still stands for:
    So they would've lost in Superbowl If they went

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