adam j. sontag

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the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL

the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL

Yesterday the Buffalo Bills were losing to the Houston Oilers 35 to 3 at halftime, but in the second half then the Bills got one touchdown and then it was 10 to 35 and 3 more made it 38 to 35 and then the Oilers scored a field goal that was 38 to 38. It went into overtime the Bills scored a field and won the game! I was the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL.

While many of the other football games I chronicled have largely been forgotten by history, the epic contest I witnessed the day before remains one of the most memorable clashes in NFL history. My account of what is now known simply as The Comeback is entirely accurate: After a lacakadaisical half-plus of football, the reigning AFC Champion Buffalo Bills stormed back from a 32-point defecit with one touchdown, and then three more, taking the lead and eventually winning the game in overtime. I was just old enough to really understand what was going on, and it was thrilling to be a witness to history*.

Watching the highlights again today is deeply anachronistic. The game is instantly dated not only by the standard-definition footage and simplistic motion design, but the lack of official video replay review that would have nullified a crucial Buffalo touchdown.

At the same time, however, the contest could have been part of this past weekend’s action. Just sit back and truly soak in the orchestral revelry that is the ESPN NFL Primetime Highlight Song. Let Chris Berman and Tom Jackson do their good-cop-bad-joke-cop routine for the umpteenth time, and you may just forget that Houston Oilers have long since ceased to exist - assuming you’re part of the 50% of my readership who knew they did in the first place.

*History in the sense that in 100 years, no one will care anymore. That’s not to say we don’t know about century-old sports results, just that it’s hard for us to imagine these events today as anything more than “a bunch of dead guys running around.”