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Devastating Loss Ends Season 22-16
Special teams breakdown will put the "lateral" right up there with "wide right".
by Steve Saslow
Jan 8, 2000
It was as crushing a loss as Super Bowl XXV's wide right was. You don't get as emotional roller coaster as the last 16 seconds of the Wildcard matchup against Tennessee that ends with a 22-16 loss.
Steve Christie hit a 42 yard field goal after Rob Johnson drove the Bills 38 yards in 6 plays with no timeouts left to give the Bills what should have been the 16-15 victory. The special teams and a questionable call by the refs cost the Bills a devastating loss that will forever be known as "the lateral". Frank Wychek took a handoff from Lorenzo Neal on a short kickoff that should've either been kicked deep or have been a squib kick. Instead it was a nice short kick. Wychek lateraled it to Kevin Dyson who streaked down the sidelines for the winning score after the officials review wouldn't overturn the call.
Phil Luckett's crew had other questionable calls before the half. They called a defensive holding call on a missed FG by Al Del Greco giving him a chance to hit one and give his team a 12-0 halftime lead. When do you see a holding call on a FG attempt?! Other questionable calls also went against the Bills. They refused to look at the replay on an apparent third down reception by Peerless Price, who had a great game. Later on, they overturned a stop of McNair on a third down run and gave him a first time that led to the eventual referee given Del Greco field goal before the half.
The Bills came out running in the second half as Antowain Smith had a 44 yard run to setup a the first of two touchdowns for the oft-injured back to give them the 13-12 lead. The two point conversion went off of the hands of Kevin Williams that should have given the club a field goal lead.
The dropped attempt gave Al Del Greco a chance to give the Titans a 15-13 lead with a field goal with less than two minutes left for what should've been the only second half points for the Titans. The Bills defense lived up to their number one ranking playing stellar football in containing Steve McNair the whole game led by Bruce Smith's two and a half sacks. Eddie George did manage a 100 yard game but it wasn't the deciding factor.
The bottom line is, the lateral was close but the Bills coverage team needs to make the play. The officials did make call after call that went against the Bills. The banged up offensive line struggled in the first half and we can take solace in the fact that the Bills still should have won it. But it hurts, to lose a game on the last play like that. Maybe, Phillips should have run the clock down to nothing before Christie's attempt but that was risking ending the game on a sack or not getting out of bounds. Christie hit his kick, but his kickoff and poor coverage cost the Bills their chance to advance. The lateral will go along with wide right forever as daggars in the heart of Bills fans.
TBD Gameday Review - My position by position breakdown and grades.
NFL Gamebook - Most complete game statistics available including play by play from NFL.com.
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