Music City Miracle

The Music City Miracle is an American football play that took place on January 8, 2000 during the National Football League (NFL)'s 1999–2000 playoffs. It occurred at the end of the American Football Conference (AFC) Wild-Card playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills at Adelphia Coliseum, now known as Nissan Stadium, in Nashville, Tennessee. After the Bills had taken a 16–15 lead on a field goal with 16 seconds remaining in the game, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson on the ensuing kickoff return, and Dyson then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown and earn a 22–16 victory.

Music City Miracle
LP Field 2009 crop
Adelphia Coliseum, the site of the game
Buffalo Bills (5)
(11–5)
Tennessee Titans (4)
(13–3)
16 22
Head coach:
Wade Phillips
Head coach:
Jeff Fisher
1234 Total
BUF 0079 16
TEN 012010 22
DateJanuary 8, 2000
StadiumAdelphia Coliseum, Nashville, Tennessee
RefereePhil Luckett
Attendance66,782[1]
Current/Future Hall of Famers
Bills: Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed
Titans: Bruce Matthews
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
AnnouncersMike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire

Pregame info

Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie controversy

Going into the game, Bills coach Wade Phillips created a stir by starting quarterback Rob Johnson, rather than Doug Flutie, who had started 15 games and led them into the playoffs by winning 10 games.[2]

In the 1998 offseason, the Bills signed Johnson as a free agent. He gained a considerable amount of interest around the league after playing well in a Week 1 contest against the Ravens, and was expected to become the primary quarterback for the Bills. However, the Bills also signed former Canadian Football League (CFL) star Flutie after A.J. Smith, their Director of Pro Personnel, heavily valued his talents. Johnson only led the Bills to a 1–3 start before being injured in the middle of his fifth start in Week 6 at Indianapolis. Flutie came in and not only led the Bills to a come-from-behind win, but earned the starting job and led the Bills to a 7–3 record after. The Bills finished with a 10–6 record and Wild Card berth. In 1999, Flutie's stats were down with 19 touchdowns against 16 interceptions, but he went 10–5 as a starter and led the Bills to a second Wild Card berth. With a playoff berth decided, Wade Phillips decided to let Johnson start the Week 17 game against the AFC East division champion, the Colts. Johnson played well in Flutie's place, going 24–of–32 for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions in a 31–6 win. The following day, Phillips told Johnson he would start in their first round playoff game against the Titans. Years later, Phillips claimed that it was not his decision to start Rob Johnson, and that owner Ralph Wilson had ordered him to do so. It remains unknown why the Bills started Johnson, but it is possible that the investments the Bills had spent on the players played a key role. While Flutie was a low-cost signing for the Bills, Johnson was being paid $25 million over 4 years with the expectation that he become the Bills' franchise quarterback. As a result, Wilson may have wanted to see a return on his investment.

On paper, Rob Johnson appeared to be a better choice. At 6'5", he was a much more ideal height for a quarterback than the 5'9" Doug Flutie. Johnson also possessed a stronger arm than Flutie, and like Flutie, could make plays on his feet as well as with his arm. However, Johnson also held onto the ball for an abnormally long amount of time when dropping back to pass. This resulted in him taking a considerable number of sacks, and with these sacks he was injury-prone.

Virtually all parties were shocked upon hearing the news that Rob Johnson would start ahead of Doug Flutie, and most of the Bills players reacted negatively to the decision. Many of them expressed bafflement that the quarterback who led their team to the playoffs would not start, while receiver Eric Moulds expressed disappointment because he felt he had established a great rapport with Flutie and having a different starting quarterback would take away from that. Other football media outlets also considered the decision to start Johnson over Flutie a bad move. On the statistical website Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz routinely labeled the decision to start Johnson over Flutie as the worst coaching decision in NFL history.[3][4][5][6]

Expectations

Many fans and media outlets had high expectations for this game. Even though it was only a Wild Card game and the first playoff game of the weekend, it was believed that both teams in the contest were better than their playoff seedings indicated. The Bills, who finished at 11–5, possessed the league's #1 defense in yards allowed, holding their opponents to just 252.8 yards per game. Meanwhile, at 13–3, the Titans were the most over-qualified Wild Card team in NFL history. As a result, it was believed that whoever won the game would be a serious contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.[3][7]

Game details

While the Bills-Titans Wild Card game is best known for its conclusion, the game was, first and foremost, a defensive battle. Both teams struggled to move the ball as the Bills outgained the Titans in total yardage by a margin of 219–194. Rob Johnson completed less than half his passes, while Steve McNair was held to just 76 yards passing.[8]

First half

After a scoreless first quarter, the Titans opened up the scoring when Jevon Kearse sacked Buffalo quarterback Rob Johnson in the end zone for a safety. Johnson completed just 10 of 22 passes while being sacked 6 times, including twice by Kearse. Wide receiver Derrick Mason returned the free kick 42 yards to the Bills' 28-yard line; five plays later, Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. After forcing a punt, the Titans drove 56 yards in 11 plays. Kicker Al Del Greco initially missed a 45-yard field goal attempt, but the Bills were penalized for defensive holding on the play and Del Greco's second attempt was good from 40 yards on the last play of the half. At the end of the half, the Bills were trailing 12–0 and had gained only 64 yards, while also losing 44 yards on 9 penalties.

Second half

In the second half, the Bills rallied. On Buffalo's first play of the third quarter, Antowain Smith broke off a 44-yard run, sparking a 62-yard drive that ended with his 4-yard touchdown run 4 plays later. Later on, the Bills drove 65 yards, featuring a 37-yard completion from Johnson to Eric Moulds, with a roughing the passer penalty on Kearse adding another 15. Smith finished the drive with another 4-yard touchdown run, giving the Bills a 13–12 lead after receiver Kevin Williams dropped a pass from Johnson on the two-point conversion attempt.

Conclusion

Music city miracle lateral
Kevin Dyson receiving the lateral pass.

Late in the fourth quarter, the stage was set for an exciting finish. Tennessee received the ball with 6:15 remaining. Titans receiver Isaac Byrd's 16-yard punt return gave the Titans good field position at the Bills' 45 yard line. On the second play of the drive, the Titans got a break when a Steve McNair pass bounced off linebacker John Holecek's arm and into the hands of Frank Wycheck for a completion. Five carries from Eddie George for 17 yards set up a wobbly 36-yard field goal by Al Del Greco, giving the Titans a 15–13 lead with 1:48 to go. Throughout the game, the Bills' defense began to face a myriad of injuries. As a result, by this point in the game they were exhausted and losing composure on the field. The situation became so dire that Holecek burned a timeout without his coaches' approval. As a result of this timeout and another one called before Del Greco's field goal attempt, the Bills would get the ball back with no timeouts.

On the ensuing drive, Bills quarterback Rob Johnson led a 5-play, 37-yard drive to the Titans' 24-yard line. It started after Del Greco's field goal for Tennessee, with Kevin Williams returning the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to give the Bills good field position at their own 39 yard line. Johnson began the drive with a completion to rookie wide receiver Peerless Price for 14 yards and a first down. After an incomplete pass, the Bills ran a draw play on second down, and running back Jonathan Linton picked up a 12 yard gain for another first down at the Titans' 35 yard line with less than a minute remaining. On the next play from scrimmage, Johnson lost a shoe in a scramble, and with the clock running, he had no time to put it back on. With only one shoe, Johnson rolled out and hit Price on an out pattern, and he broke a tackle and got out of bounds at the 24 yard line with 20 seconds left. After this play, Wade Phillips sent out the field goal unit for what appeared to be a game-winning attempt. Special Teams Coordinator Bruce DeHaven wanted the Bills to run another play so the Bills could kick the field goal with less time on the clock, but was overruled. With only 16 seconds remaining in the game, Bills kicker Steve Christie made a 41-yard field goal to put Buffalo in the lead, 16–15.[3][9]

The play

The play was named "Home Run Throwback" by the Titans and was developed by special-teams coordinator Alan Lowry. Lowry had learned the play while watching a Southern Methodist University game against Texas Tech University as a member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff in 1981. The Titans ran the play regularly in practices during the regular season, though the practices usually involved Derrick Mason, who had been injured earlier in the game and was unavailable for the situation. The number 2 option for the play, Anthony Dorsett, was also unavailable for the play due to cramps. As a result, the Titans put in wide receiver Isaac Byrd as their main option to retrieve the lateral pass, with Kevin Dyson put in as a trailer. Dyson, as one of the team's lead wide receivers, rarely practiced with the special-teams unit and was mostly unfamiliar with the layout of the play. As a result, head coach Jeff Fisher pulled him over before the play and gave him a brief rundown of what to do and what to expect on the play. Nevertheless, his execution of Lowry's vision would be flawless.

Finding a player to throw the lateral pass was easier. Frank Wycheck was discovered one day by offensive coordinator Les Steckel playing a throwing game with lineman Bruce Matthews entitled "Reindeer Games," which they invented to play while the two were bored at practice. Steckel then designed an option pass play with Wycheck in mind. When the team ran the play against the Atlanta Falcons in the 1999 season, Wycheck threw a 61-yard touchdown pass. After the success of this play, Alan Lowry assigned Wycheck to throw the play's lateral.

Meanwhile, because the Bills had so many injuries by this point, the coaches asked for volunteers to cover the kickoff. As a result, numerous regular defensive starters, including outside linebacker Sam Rogers, were in the game to cover the kickoff. This gave the Bills' special teams unit players with more NFL experience than the average special teams unit, but because many of the Bills covering the kick were not regular special teams players, it also gave the Bills a particular disadvantage in terms of actual special teams experience. Initially, the Bills planned on kicking the ball deep, but then Bruce DeHaven suggested that the Bills attempt a pooch, or bloop kick, where the ball goes higher and shorter than a regular kickoff to limit the opportunity for a runback. This added a unique twist to the play. When practicing the "Home Run Throwback," the Titans always practiced against a regular kickoff or a squib kick. Thus, they would be forced to improvise with what they knew about the play's execution.

As DeHaven suggested, Steve Christie kicked a high and short pooch that was fielded by Lorenzo Neal. Neal handed the ball to Wycheck, who had been behind him and nearly ran into him. This formed the key shift in the play: The Bills chased Wycheck to the right side of the field, breaking their lanes in the process.

As devised, Wycheck then threw the ball across the field where Dyson was positioned. As he caught the ball, the momentum of the play abruptly went to the left and caught every Bills defender except for Christie out of position. Dyson thus had an open path in front of him and ran seventy-five yards into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

The play was not official yet, however. The replay officials in the booth notified referee Phil Luckett that they wanted him to review the play to see if Wycheck's throw had been a lateral, as had been called. If not, the Titans would have been penalized for an illegal forward pass at the spot of the throw and the touchdown would not count. Fans watching were getting impatient and nervous while the refs were making up their mind. Luckett upheld the call, and the Titans were victorious.

Upon crossing midfield, Dyson later said he considered going out of bounds in field goal range, as all the Titans needed was a field goal to win the game. However, upon seeing that the only player with a shot at him was Christie and realizing that he was blocked by two players anyway, he simply kept going.[10][3]

Official review

Per the instant replay rules, a booth review was called. The play was reviewed by referee Phil Luckett to determine whether the line judge's ruling that the throw had not been a forward pass was correct. Luckett was already a controversial figure before the game due to two highly disputed calls in the 1998 NFL season. During a Thanksgiving game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions, Luckett decided a coin toss when the game went into overtime. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis appeared to call tails, but upon making a "he-" sound before saying tails, Luckett ruled that Bettis had called heads instead and awarded the Lions the ball with the coin coming up tails. The Lions scored on overtime's opening possession to win the game 19–16. Just a few weeks later, Luckett was thrown into controversy again with another controversial call in a game between the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde ran a quarterback sneak on a fourth and goal and was tackled down about a foot short of the goal line, but the play was ruled a touchdown and the Jets won the game as a result. While this play was not Luckett's fault as he did not make the call of touchdown, the play was non-reviewable and he was forced to take the blame as the head official. This play, along with Jerry Rice's non-fumble in a wild card game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers was ultimately considered the last straw in convincing NFL teams to vote overwhelmingly for instant replay's return for the 1999 NFL season. As a result, the Music City Miracle was among the first controversial plays where the current instant replay system played a key role.

One of the on-field sideline mobile cameras had been repositioned to provide a sideline view of the Titans' reception of the kickoff. This camera angle showed the unintended reception of the kickoff by Neal, but was blocked (by Titans players) from recording the single reverse handoff by Neal to Wycheck. However, it fully captured the lateral by Wycheck to Dyson.

Upon the replay of its feed, the camera showed that the line judge began to follow the development of the play when Neal had handed the ball off to Wycheck. The line judge had moved to the sideline yard marker as Wycheck had slowed to position himself to throw the lateral. After the lateral was thrown, the line judge moved again to realign himself with the yard marker, at which he had observed Dyson receiving the lateral. Because that second position was up field from the point where the line judge had positioned himself when Wycheck had thrown the ball, the line judge's hand signaled during the play that the pass was indeed a lateral and not an illegal forward pass. Therefore, Dyson's advancing the ball to the Buffalo end zone after the reception resulted in a legal touchdown. After a long official review, the video was deemed inconclusive to overturn the line judge's ruling on the field.

The Titans made one final kickoff, and the clock expired during the Bills' return. The Titans held on to win 22–16.

Officials

Aftermath

The victory, in front of a franchise-record crowd at Adelphia Coliseum, advanced the Titans to the AFC divisional round for the first time since 1993, when they were still based in Houston. Subsequent victories over the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars sent the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV to face the St. Louis Rams, in which they lost by a touchdown in another game that went down to the final seconds, known as "One Yard Short" or "The Tackle."

For the Bills, the debacle led to the firing of special-teams coach Bruce DeHaven, who had been with the team for 13 seasons. (DeHaven was eventually rehired by the Bills into the same position for three seasons beginning in 2010.) DeHaven's replacement, Ronnie Jones, did not perform well. In 2000, the Bills had one of the worst special teams units in NFL history, and it completely neutralized their #9 offense and #3 defense with the team going 8–8. After the 2000 season, Phillips was fired, having failed to lead the Bills past the first round of the playoffs during his tenure. Phillips was replaced by Titans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

The Music City Miracle was added to the list of infamous moments in Buffalo sports history, joining "Wide Right" and "No Goal". It marked the start of what eventually became the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major North American sports leagues, as the Bills would go on to miss the playoffs for 17 straight years, finally qualifying again in the 2017 season (the playoff game in question then taking place in 2018). The Bills' last playoff win came in 1995. Although the Bills had lost four consecutive Super Bowls before this game, many Bills fans consider this game to be their single most humiliating loss in franchise history, due to the more surreal and controversial ending as well as the long-term impact the game had on the team. Bills fans generally refuse to call this game and climactic play by its standard "Music City Miracle" name, and instead have taken to calling it more insulting names, most popularly "The Forward Lateral" and "The Immaculate Deception." In his 2017 autobiography Son of Bum, Bills coach Wade Phillips called the play "The Music City Mistake."

The drought eventually came to be called "the Curse of (Doug) Flutie." [11] As the Bills' slump wore on, rumors circulated around upstate New York that Flutie's father Richard Flutie had become so enraged after learning his son had been benched on Ralph Wilson's orders that he swore the Bills would not make the playoffs again in his lifetime and/or that of the Bills' owner. Either way, such a "curse" would have held - Wilson died on March 25, 2014 while the elder Flutie along with his wife and Doug Flutie's mother both died of natural causes on November 21, 2015.

The game is also notable for its effect on fans who had bet on the game. Before the game, the Titans were favored by five points. Because the Titans were leading by two points in the final two minutes with the Bills attempting to win the game, it was expected that regardless of outcome, fans who had bet on the Bills against the spread would win their bets. However, not only did the Titans win the game on the ensuing kickoff return, but they also won against the spread with their ensuing extra point, winning by six points.

Due to the massive amount of interest the game received as a result of its climactic play, the NFL scheduled a rematch between the Titans and Bills as the opening Sunday Night game of the 2000 NFL season. The Bills won this time, 16–13. However, the Titans would get the last laugh as they finished the season with the NFL's best record at 13-3 while the Bills finished 8–8 and missed the postseason. After this game, the Bills never defeated the Titans again until 2015. In that year, they finally won their first game against the Titans in Nashville - 16 years after the Music City Miracle - with a 14–13 win.

NFL Films hired a computer analyst to determine whether Luckett had made the correct call. They determined that the ball did not travel forward and that Luckett had made the correct ruling.[12]

References

  1. ^ "Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans – National Football League Game Summary" (PDF). NFLGSIS.com. NFL Enterprises, LLC. January 8, 2000. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  2. ^ "Rob Johnson still bitter about losing Buffalo Bills QB job to Doug Flutie". NewYorkUpstate.com. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  3. ^ a b c d Dunne, Tyler (October 10, 2015). "Fifteen Years Later, the 'Miracle' Lingers On for Bills". The Buffalo News.
  4. ^ "1999 Buffalo Bills Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. January 2, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills - January 2, 2000". Pro Football Reference. January 2, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  6. ^ Schatz, Aaron (November 28, 2004). "2000 DVOA Ratings and Commentary". Football Outsiders.
  7. ^ "1999 Buffalo Bills Statistics & Players". Pro Football Reference. January 2, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans - January 8, 2000". Pro Football Reference. January 8, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  9. ^ "Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans - January 8, 2000". Pro Football Reference. January 8, 2000. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  10. ^ "Music City Miracle" Bills vs. Titans 1999 AFC Wild Card Playoffs (Full Game) (YouTube). National Football League. 2016-07-29.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Tennessee vs. Buffalo, 1/8/00". NFL Films Game of the Week. 2007-07-11. NFL Network.

See also

1999 Buffalo Bills season

The 1999 Buffalo Bills season was the 30th season for the team in the National Football League (NFL) and 40th overall. It would be the final season that Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, and Thurman Thomas, the last three players remaining from the Bills' Super Bowl teams were on the same team together. All three were released at the end of the season due to salary cap reasons.

The Bills surrendered only 229 points (14.3 points per game), the lowest total in franchise history in a 16-game season, and second-fewest in the league. Buffalo's 2,675 passing yards and 4,045 total yards allowed were both the fewest totals in the NFL in 1999.

The Bills finished in second place in the AFC East and finished the National Football League's 1999 season with a record of 11 wins and 5 losses. The Bills qualified for the postseason for the seventh time in the decade. They would lose to the Titans in the game called "The Music City Miracle".

The team would not make the playoffs again until 2017, where they were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wild-Card round.

1999 Tennessee Titans season

The 1999 Tennessee Titans season was the franchise’s 40th season and their 30th in the National Football League (NFL). It was the first year for the club under the moniker “Titans”, while the nickname “Oilers” was retired by the NFL. The Titans became the seventh Wild Card team to qualify for the Super Bowl. However, after defeating the Bills, Colts, and Jaguars in the postseason, they lost the Super Bowl to the St. Louis Rams, 23–16 on a famous last second tackle made by Rams defender Mike Jones at the goal line that prevented Titans receiver Kevin Dyson from scoring a game-tying touchdown. The highlight of the season was the Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills, dubbed the Music City Miracle. In the games closing seconds, Kevin Dyson caught a lateral on a kickoff and ran all the way down the sidelines for a touchdown.

The team drafted defensive end Jevon Kearse with the 16th pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. He had his best years in Tennessee, being named to three consecutive Pro Bowls (1999–2001).

Alan Lowry

Alan D. Lowry is a former National Football League and college football coach, best known as the architect of the Music City Miracle. He coached for several teams over more than 25 years, winning one Super Bowl and going to another. Prior to coaching he played football at the University of Texas, where he won a national championship and three conference championships, was named to the All-Conference team twice at two different positions and was named the 1973 Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The Bills compete in the National Football League (NFL), as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays their home games at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills are the only NFL team that plays its home games in the state of New York. The Bills conduct summer training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York, an eastern suburb of Rochester.The Bills began play as an original franchise of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. The club joined the NFL as a result of the AFL–NFL merger for the 1970 season. The 1964 and 1965 Bills were the only teams representing Buffalo that won major league professional sports championships ("back-to-back" American Football League Championships). The Bills are the only team to win four consecutive conference championships and are the only NFL team to lose four consecutive Super Bowl games. The team was owned by Ralph Wilson from the team's founding in 1960, until his death in 2014 at the age of 95. After his death, Wilson's estate reached an agreement to sell the team to Terry and Kim Pegula, which was approved by the other NFL team owners on October 8, 2014. The Bills formerly possessed the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major professional sports in North America: they did not qualify to play in the NFL playoffs from 1999 until 2017 and were the last NFL team (and last team in the major North American professional sports leagues overall) to compete in the playoffs in the 21st century.

Darius Reynaud

Darius Reynaud (born December 29, 1984) is a former American football running back and return specialist. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He played college football at West Virginia.

He has also played for the New York Giants, Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, and Chicago Bears.

Doug Colman

Douglass Clayton Colman (born June 4, 1973) is an American football coach, former player and son of former NFL player Wayne Charles Colman. He was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for five seasons with the New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns after playing college football at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Frank Wycheck

Frank John Wycheck (born October 14, 1971) is a former American football tight end and sports talk radio host. He played college football at the University of Maryland. As a professional, Wycheck played 11 seasons for the Washington Redskins and the Tennessee Titans, where he threw the lateral pass in the Music City Miracle. He has also spent time as a professional wrestler. Wycheck was the color commentator on the Tennessee Titans Radio Network from 2005 to 2016, and from 2004 to 2017, Wycheck co-hosted a morning sports radio show on Nashville radio station WGFX.

Kevin Dyson

Kevin Tyree Dyson (born June 23, 1975) is a former American football wide receiver of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Tennessee Oilers 16th overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Utah.Dyson is perhaps best known for his part in two historic NFL plays – the Music City Miracle and The Tackle. Kevin Dyson and his brother Andre Dyson were the first brothers in NFL history to score touchdowns in the same game.After his football career ended, Dyson earned two Masters' degrees and a doctorate, and became the principal of a middle school.

Lateral pass

In American football and Canadian football, a lateral pass or lateral (officially backward pass in American football and onside pass in Canadian football) occurs when the ball carrier throws the football to a teammate in a direction parallel to or away from the opponents' goal line. A lateral pass is distinguished from a forward pass, in which the ball is thrown forward, towards the opposition's end zone. In a lateral pass the ball is not advanced, but unlike a forward pass a lateral may be attempted from anywhere on the field by any player to any player at any time.

While the forward pass is an invention of the North American games, the lateral and backward pass is also a part of rugby union and rugby league, where such passes are the norm. Compared to its use in rugby, laterals and backward passes are less common in North American football, due to a much greater focus on ball control in American football strategy; they are most commonly used by the quarterback, after taking the snap, to quickly transfer ("pitch") the ball a short distance to a nearby running back (or, rarely, wide receiver) on a rushing play. Laterals are also often seen as part of a last-minute desperation strategy or as part of a trick play. Examples of plays utilizing the lateral pass are the toss, flea flicker, hook and lateral, and buck-lateral.

List of Buffalo Bills seasons

This is a list of seasons completed by the Buffalo Bills American football franchise. The list documents the season-by-season records of the Bills' franchise from 1960 to present, including postseason records, and league awards for individual players or head coaches. The Bills finished their most recent season (2018) with a record of six wins and ten losses.

For complete team history, see History of the Buffalo Bills.

Mike Keith (sportscaster)

Mike Keith is the radio play-by-play voice of the NFL's Tennessee Titans. A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Keith's career began in 1987, when he worked as a student for the University of Tennessee's Vol Radio Network, one year after graduating from Franklin's Battle Ground Academy. Keith is also a graduate of the University of Tennessee, getting his degree from the school in 1991.Keith began working with the Titans in 1996, when the team was still the Houston Oilers. He worked as the pregame show host for Tennessee radio stations that aired the Oilers' games. In 1997, when the team moved to Tennessee, he became the scoreboard host. He finally moved into the booth in 1998, the team's second year in Tennessee, and became the color commentator. In 1999, the team's first year as the Titans, he finally took over the play-by-play announcer position.

Keith's most famous call is that of the Music City Miracle, near the end of his first season as play-by-play announcer. The unbelievable play resulted in a last-minute Titans win that kept them alive in the 1999-2000 NFL Playoffs and eventually led the team to Super Bowl XXXIV.

Keith won the Tennessee Sportscaster of the Year Award four years, and eight out of ten years (as of 2010). He also hosts the television show Titans All Access, in addition to hosting daily Titans updates on Titans Radio, and hosting the weekly Mike Vrabel Show, a radio show which features the Titans' head coach as co-host.

Keith was also the play-by-play radio voice of the Arena Football League's Nashville Kats during the Titans' offseason.

Keith is married to his wife Michelle and has two children, Abby and Matthew.

Miracle in Miami

The Miami Miracle, also known as the Miracle in Miami, was an American football play that took place at the end of a game on December 9, 2018, between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. Down 33–28 with 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins completed a 17-yard pass and two lateral passes resulting in a 69-yard touchdown by running back Kenyan Drake. It is the first walk-off game-winning touchdown in NFL history to involve multiple lateral passes, and the first multi-lateral touchdown since the River City Relay in December 2003. After the game, the play was known by several names, most commonly the "Miami Miracle" and the "Miracle in Miami". The play went on to win the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year Award at the 8th Annual NFL Honors Award Show on February 2.

NFL's Greatest Games

NFL's Greatest Games is a series of television programs that air on NFL Network, ESPN and related networks. They are condensed versions of some of the most famous games in the history of the National Football League, using footage and sound captured by NFL Films, as well as original interviews. All installments produced before 2015 are 90 minutes in length, and are presented with a title in respect to the game being featured. Starting in 2015, new installments produced run for either 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or 90 minutes, and no longer have a title beyond the actual game itself that is featured.

The series began with Super Bowl III, the New York Jets' 16-7 upset of the Baltimore Colts. ESPN debuted the program in 1999, on the 30th anniversary of the original game. More telecasts followed in the ensuing months.

In 2007, NFL Network unveiled Super Bowl Classics, a version of this program using complete videotaped games.

The "NFL's Greatest Games" banner is also occasionally used for episodes of the 1970s public television series The Way It Was that covered classic NFL games prior to 1958.

NFL Top 10

NFL Top 10 is a documentary program produced by NFL Films for airing on the NFL Network. The host and narrator is Derrin Horton.

The program counts down 10 items directly related to the players, coaches, and events of the National Football League. Throughout segments on each selection, a wide variety of personalities weigh in on the list. They include former and current NFL players, coaches, national and local sports analysts, and journalists, among others. In addition, multiple celebrity guests have appeared on the show, such as David Copperfield, Richard Simmons, and the Sklar Brothers. Reruns show on weekdays, while new episodes air on Friday nights. It also fills time in markets on an alternate feed where game coverage (usually in the pre-season) is blacked out in deference to a local broadcast station's coverage of that game.

National Football League controversies

The National Football League (NFL) is the premier professional American football league in the United States, and is also one of the major North American professional sports leagues. However, the NFL is not without its share of controversies. Throughout history, everything from questionable championship rulings to team relocation decisions to allegedly criminal behavior by players has been part of the conversation surrounding the NFL. Many of the recent controversies have surrounded NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, player conduct, and/or the league's role in player safety.

Nissan Stadium

Nissan Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Owned by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, it is primarily used for football and is the home field of the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL) and the Tennessee State Tigers of Tennessee State University. The stadium is also the site of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, a postseason college football bowl game played each December, and is occasionally used as a venue for soccer matches. Nissan Stadium is even used for large concerts, such as the CMA Music Festival nightly concerts, which take place for four days every June. Facilities are included to enable the stadium to host other public events, meetings, parties, and gatherings.

Nissan Stadium is located on the east bank of the Cumberland River, directly across the river from downtown Nashville and has a listed seating capacity of 69,143. Its first event was a preseason game between the Titans and the Atlanta Falcons on August 27, 1999. Since opening in 1999, it has been known by multiple names, including Adelphia Coliseum (1999–2002), The Coliseum (2002–2006), and LP Field (2006–2015).

The stadium features three levels of seating, with the lower bowl completely encompassing the field. The club and upper levels form the stadium's dual towers, rising above the lower bowl along each sideline. All of the stadium's luxury suites are located within the towers. Three levels of suites are located in the stadium's eastern tower: one between the lower and club levels, and two between the club and upper levels. The western tower has only two levels of suites, both between the club and upper levels. The pressbox is located between the lower and club levels in the western tower. Nissan Stadium's dual videoboards are located behind the lower bowl in each end zone.

The playing surface of Nissan Stadium is Tifsport Bermuda Sod, a natural grass. However, the relatively warm climate of Nashville, combined with the wear and tear of hosting a game nearly every weekend, usually results in a resodding of the area "between the hashes" in late November.

On Nissan Stadium's eastern side is the Titans Pro Shop, a retail store which sells team merchandise. It remains open year-round and maintains an exterior entrance for use on non-event dates.

Phil Luckett

Phil Luckett is a retired official in the National Football League (NFL), having served from 1991 to 2005, and again in 2007. His officiating uniform number was 59. He entered the NFL as a field judge in 1991 and officiated Super Bowl XXXI, his last game at that position before he became a referee in 1997 after Red Cashion and Howard Roe announced their retirements. He also refereed in the WLAF/NFL Europe, including being assigned World Bowl '97. He returned to the NFL back judge position in 2001, three years after the NFL switched the titles of back judge and field judge. He took a leave of absence from the NFL for the 2006 season. In 2007, he returned to officiating as the back judge on Bill Carollo's crew and retired at the end of the season. After retiring, he was employed by the league as an officiating supervisor.

During an overtime coin toss in a November 1998 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions the coin landed on tails and Luckett awarded the toss to the Lions. Steelers captain Jerome Bettis said he had called "tails", but Luckett insisted that Bettis had called "heads-tails". According to NFL rules, a team's first call is the one the referee will use, and Luckett noted in his game report to the NFL that Bettis was attempting to deceive. The Lions scored a field goal on their first possession of the overtime to win the game. The game tape was later enhanced, and Bettis is clearly heard saying "hea-tails." A sideline microphone enhancement also clearly had Bettis telling Coach Bill Cowher that (Bettis) had said "hea-tails."Following this incident, the coin toss rules were changed. Now, instead of calling the toss while the coin is in the air, the team captain chooses heads or tails before the coin is flipped and the referee confirms the selection before he flips the coin.

The following week Luckett and his crew were assigned to Giants Stadium for the game between the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks, a game with playoff implications for both teams. Late in the game, with his team trailing, Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde attempted a quarterback sneak near the Seahawks' goal line and Luckett's head linesman Earnie Frantz signaled that he had scored the go-ahead touchdown. Various television replays showed Testaverde was clearly down by contact on the play and never crossed the goal line. Luckett, however, did not reverse the call and the play stood as the winning score in New York's 32-31 victory. At the time, the NFL did not use instant replay to review officials' decisions and the call would be cited as a major reason why the NFL reinstituted instant replay the following season.He was also the referee when the Music City Miracle play occurred during the 1999 Playoffs between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. Despite protests, Luckett ruled that a legal lateral pass had been thrown for the game-winning touchdown, a controversial call that was much disputed, even years later.Luckett was the league supervisor assigned to the 2012 Green Bay Packers–Seattle Seahawks game that contributed to the end of the 2012 NFL referee lockout.

Sports in Buffalo

Buffalo, New York and Western New York are home to two major league sports teams. The Buffalo Sabres (hockey) play in the City of Buffalo. The Buffalo Bills (football) play in the suburb of Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo is also home to several minor sports teams including the Buffalo Bisons (baseball), Buffalo Bandits (indoor lacrosse) and FC Buffalo (soccer). Several Buffalo-area colleges and universities are active in college athletics. The State University of New York at Buffalo play division I FBS football as well as other sports in Buffalo and the suburb of Amherst, New York.

Sports are a major part of the city's culture. In recent decades Buffalo based teams have become known for crushing, and sometimes controversial, defeats. "Wide Right", "No Goal" and the Music City Miracle have come to define the suffering of Buffalo Sports fans. In February 2012 Forbes listed Buffalo #4 on its list of "Most Miserable Sports Cities."Buffalo has received franchises in three major sports leagues, starting with the Buffalo Bills who began play in the inaugural 1960 American Football League season and eventually joined the National Football League in 1970 as part of the NFL-AFL merger. That same year, the Buffalo Braves joined the National Basketball Association, and the Buffalo Sabres joined the National Hockey League as expansion franchises. However, the Braves struggled financially and were relocated in 1978 to California and became the Clippers. That caused a perception that Western New York cannot economically support three major sports franchises. The Bills' decision to play one home game a year in nearby Toronto in 2008 in order to expand revenue has bolstered that perception further.

Buffalo last hosted Major League Baseball in 1915 with the Federal League's Buffalo Blues. Currently the highest level of professional baseball in the greater Buffalo region is the Buffalo Bisons, a AAA International League franchise.

The Play (American football)

The Play was a last-second kickoff return during a college football game between the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears on Saturday, November 20, 1982. Given the circumstances and rivalry, the wild game that preceded it, the very unusual way in which The Play unfolded, and its lingering aftermath on players and fans, it is recognized as one of the most memorable plays in college football history and among the most memorable in American sports.

Stanford took a 20–19 lead on a field goal with four seconds left. The Golden Bears used five lateral passes on the ensuing kickoff return to score the winning touchdown and earn a 25–20 victory. Members of the Stanford Band came onto the field midway through the return, believing that the game was over, which added to the confusion and folklore. There remains disagreement over the legality of two of the backward pass attempts, adding to the passion surrounding the traditional rivalry of the annual "Big Game."

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