Buffalo Bills: Rob Johnson
July, 8, 2014
By Mike Rodak | ESPN.com
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Buffalo Bills history. Yesterday, we featured Scott Norwood's "Wide Right" kick against the New York Giants, and tomorrow we'll highlight Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett to prevent a Dallas Cowboys touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII. Please vote for your choice as the Bills' most memorable play.
Score: Titans 22, Bills 16
Date: Jan. 8, 2000 Site: Adelphia Coliseum
The Bills were one of the NFL's best teams of the 1990s, appearing in the playoffs eight times that decade. Yet just like their heartbreaking loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XXV, the Bills ended their 1999 season in stunning fashion.
These weren't the Bills once led by Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, but it was still a respectable group. Three years after Kelly's retirement, the Bills were riding the hot hand of 37-year old quarterback Doug Flutie. An 11-5 record behind Flutie was enough for a wild-card berth and an opening-round tilt with the Titans.
But it wasn't Flutie who got the call in Nashville, Tennessee. Instead, the Bills turned to backup Rob Johnson, who was impressive in a blowout win in the regular-season finale -- when Flutie was rested. Johnson didn't have nearly the same success against the Titans, mustering 131 yards on 10-for-22 passing with no touchdowns.
Instead, the game turned into a defensive battle, with two second-half rushing touchdowns by Antowain Smith putting the Bills in position to win the game. The seesaw contest continued late in the fourth quarter, when the Titans pulled ahead on a field goal only for the Bills to march back downfield and take a one-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.
After kicking the go-ahead field goal, Steve Christie stayed on the field for the ensuing kickoff. Trying to prevent a big return, Christie directed his kick shorter, so that it was fielded by fullback Lorenzo Neal. That began one of the more improbable plays in NFL history, with Neal pitching it to tight end Frank Wycheck, who heaved it across the field to wide receiver Kevin Dyson.
Forward pass? Lateral? As fans and players tried to figure out if Wycheck's pass was legal, Dyson sprinted down the left sideline and into the end zone. It was over. The Bills had been shocked … again.
The Titans carried their momentum all the way to the Super Bowl, a loss to the high-flying St. Louis Rams, while the Bills have never recovered. Since they walked off the field in disbelief on that day 14 years ago, the Bills haven't appeared in the playoffs and have finished with a winning record only once, in 2004.