AFC East: Frank Wycheck
That's one of the hotter topics in sports lately.
So what's the most controversial call in AFC East history?
There are a number of candidates to choose from. The Tuck Rule comes to mind. While technically not a blown call, it sure didn't look right.
The Patriots had a magical bicentennial season in 1976, but it came to a screeching stop. Defensive lineman Ray Hamilton was called for a highly questionable late hit on Ken Stabler, allowing the Oakland Raiders to turn a fourth-and-18 into a touchdown five plays later and eventually eliminate the Patriots from the playoffs.
The Music City Miracle still resonates with Buffalo Bills fans certain Frank Wycheck made a forward lateral across the field to Kevin Dyson. The Bills haven't been to the playoffs in the 11 years since.
In 1998, Bills receiver Andre Reed claimed he overheard an official say "Just give it to them" after Patriots receiver Shawn Jefferson made a controversial sideline catch with six seconds left, setting up Drew Bledsoe's winning touchdown pass to Ben Coates.
New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde scored a phantom touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in 1998 on a fourth-down plunge that didn't cross the goal line. The Jets went on to win the AFC East.
Last year, the Miami Dolphins lost a potentially season-changing game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when officials ruled the video replay couldn't determine Ikaika Alama-Francis recovered in the end zone. The Steelers kicked a field goal to win by a point.
Those are just a few that come to mind.
What call do you think is the AFC East's worst of all-time?
AFC East teams dominated the list. They were involved in over half the plays, pulling off the big stunt in five of them, but getting victimized in the biggest trick of all.
10. Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown unleashes the Wildcat on the New England Patriots in 2008.
8. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hits Wes Welker on a Statue of Liberty against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007 playoffs.
5. Buffalo Bills punter/holder Brian Moorman passes to defensive end Ryan Denney for a touchdown on fake field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in 2008 opener.
3. Dan Marino's fake spike and touchdown toss to Mark Ingram to beat the New York Jets in 1994.
2. Dolphins hook and lateral -- Don Strock passes to Duriel Harris, who pitches to Tony Nathan -- against the San Diego Chargers in 1981 playoffs.
1. Music City Miracle kickoff return -- Lorenzo Neal hands off to Frank Wycheck, who passes across the field to Kevin Dyson -- to stun the Buffalo Bills in their last playoff appearance 10 seasons ago.
Multiple outlets are reporting the Patriots have reached terms with Crumpler, a four-time Pro Bowler who spent the past two seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots had a major void at tight end after losing free-agent Benjamin Watson to the Cleveland Browns and releasing Chris Baker. Those moves left them with only Robbie Agnone and Rob Myers, undrafted rookies on last year's practice squad, on their roster.
"It's a loss," Titans radio analyst and former tight end Frank Wycheck said of Crumpler's departure. "He's such a great professional, a stand-up guy win or lose. Theyr'e going to lose that leadership and that presence.
"The Patriots are getting a guy who fits the mold of what they've done over the years, bringing in guys you can trust to step up and play well."
In Crumpler's time with Tennessee, he evolved into a balanced tight end. He was known as a dangerous receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. He caught 24 touchdown passes in his last four seasons with them before joining the Titans as a free agent.
Wycheck said Crumpler excelled when the Titans gave him greater blocking responsibilities. Crumpler played a significant role in helping speedy running back Chris Johnson hit the corner throughout his 2,000-yard rushing season.
"He really blocked well, something he hasn't gotten enough credit for over his career," Wycheck said. "He's a really stout blocker, really holds the edge well.
"He embraced the role of going both on the line as a lead blocker and still being an effective receiver."
Crumpler had 27 receptions for a career-low 222 yards and one touchdown last season. Bo Scaife was the primary receiver at tight end, catching 45 passes for 440 yards.
Wycheck noted Crumpler won't be breaking down the middle of the field like he used to. But Crumpler still has incredible hands and the size to post up between the hash marks.
"It'll be a little bit of a change because everybody remembers Ben Watson tracking down Champ Bailey from behind," Wycheck said. "If you're expecting Alge to run like Ben Watson, that won't be the case."
"But I see him like Tony Gonzalez the past few years. Alge uses his smarts and experience. No one expects him to be the Alge that he was in Atlanta, but he's still playing really well and enjoying the game."
CANTON, Ohio -- Bruce Smith's final game in a Buffalo Bills uniform was a doozy. He broke the NFL record for most postseason sacks. It was the last time the Bills were in the playoffs.
|AP Photo/Wade Payne|
|Kevin Dyson and the Tennessee Titans broke the hearts of Bills fans everywhere with the Jan. 8, 2000, "Music City Miracle."|
The game also went down as the Music City Miracle, when the Tennessee Titans broke the Bills' hearts on a trick kickoff return.
With the Bills and Titans meeting Sunday in the Hall of Fame Game, reporters from Nashville are in town and stopped by Friday afternoon's interview sessions at the McKinley Grand Hotel.
A Nashville television reporter asked Smith what he remembered from that game.
"I remember it was a forward pass," said Smith, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night along with Bills owner Ralph Wilson. "That's all I remember."
The game shouldn't have been Smith's last with Buffalo. In the first round of the 1999 playoffs against the Tennessee Titans, Steve Christie kicked a field goal to put the Bills ahead by a point with 16 seconds left.
Then came the infamous kickoff return known as Home Run Throwback. Fullback Lorenzo Neal fielded the short kick and handed off to tight end Frank Wycheck fired the ball across the field to Kevin Dyson, who ran for a 75-yard touchdown to stun the Bills.
To the naked eye, it appeared the ball traveled forward. Replays were inconclusive. The ball looked like it might have traveled on a perfectly parallel line from Wycheck to Dyson.
Smith had a polite smile on his face Friday, but he didn't seem to pleased to be asked about the Music City Miracle.
"Certainly, it's something that's worth a conversation," Smith said. "But it's in the past. It's history."
For Bills fans, who have endured nine straight years without the playoffs, that kick-in-the-gut game must feel like ancient history.