On this day in 1993, backup quarterback Frank Reich leads the Buffalo Bills to a 41-38 overtime victory over the Houston Oilers in an American Football Conference (AFC) wild card playoff game that will forever be known to football fans as “The Comeback.”
By halftime of the game, Houston was out in front, 28-3, behind four touchdown passes by future Hall of Famer Warren Moon. At the beginning of the second half, things got even darker for Buffalo when the Houston strong safety Bubba McDowell intercepted a pass from Reich, who was filling in for the injured Jim Kelly. McDowell ran 58 yards for another Oiler touchdown, putting the score at 35-3. At this point, many Bills fans headed home out of the chilly western New York weather, convinced the game was lost.
On the very next possession, however, Buffalo began to rally, driving 50 yards in 10 plays and scoring a touchdown on a one-yard run by Kenneth Davis. Bills kicker Steve Christie then recovered his own onside kick to give Reich the ball. Reich needed only four plays that time, connecting with Don Beebe on a 38-yard touchdown to put the score at 35-17. A stellar job by the Bills’ defense gave Buffalo possession again, and Reich capitalized by finding Andre Reed for a 26-yard touchdown. On the Oilers’ next drive, Bills safety Henry Jones intercepted a deflected Moon pass for a 15-yard return, enabling Reich to find Reed for another score. By that point, the Bills had cut their deficit to four points, in a span of only six minutes and 52 seconds.
After the Oilers botched a field goal attempt and turned the ball over again, Reich made a 17-yard touchdown pass to Reed to put Buffalo up 38-35 with less than three minutes left in regulation. In the waning seconds of the game, Houston’s Al Del Greco made a 26-yard field goal kick to tie the score and send the game into overtime. On a Houston drive, the Bills defensive back Nate Odomes intercepted a Moon pass. Davis made two six-yard rushes, and Christie stepped up for a 32-yard field goal attempt. He booted the ball through the uprights, winning the game for Buffalo 41-38 and completing the largest comeback victory (32 points) in National Football League (NFL) history.
The Bills made it to the Super Bowl that year but lost to the Dallas Cowboys. It was the third of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances for the Bills; they lost all four games.