We will never forget. The Bills will never forget, the fans of their team will never forget, fans everywhere will never forget, but above all Scott Norwood is the man that will remember this moment more than anyone else, and perhaps that is unfair, but it’s the sad tragic truth.
It did, however, make for one heck of a memorable Super Bowl moment.
I will preface this one by saying that I respect what the 1990 Giants did that season. They got the job done, and proved that they could win it all without their starting quarterback, and that makes them great.
At least to me, however, this moment has little to do with them, and it is really about the Bills. In fact, the Giants will almost never be remembered with this moment, and it always goes back to the kick and to the poor, poor Bills who began a run of almost greatness.
At the end of the eighties a sorry Bills franchise had reinvented themselves under Marv Levy. They began to win, and the 1990 season was supposed to be the culmination of the rebuilding process.
It was meant to be a crowning moment for a once sorry team, and a championship that could make a city proud. It was supposed to perhaps spark a dynasty, and be remembered for all time as one of the great American sports stories. Instead all of that was lost with one kick.
It all starts with a man named Jim Kelly. He was the Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl quarterback, who led the team’s deadly offensive unit, nicknamed the K-Gun. This offense led the league in points scored with a total of 428 over the season. Jim Kelly also had the highest passer rating in the league, to go along with that.
The running back Thurman Thomas had a stellar year, and was the yards from scrimmage league leader. On the defensive side of the ball, Bruce Smith, their leading defensive lineman was the defensive player of the year, and had 19 sacks to go with the accolade.
The mighty Bills stormed through the regular season and finished with a record of 13-3. They were also undefeated at home, and after a bye week played the Dolphins in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
They emerged victorious, winning 44-33. In the Conference Championship they would play a tough Raiders team, but the game itself proved to be a farce. The Bills demolished their opponent 51-3, and set the stage for what was supposed to be their crowning moment.
They were eight point favorites over the New York Giants, and the game started out that way as the Bills built a 12-3 lead in the first half. They were running the ball effectively, and a sack in the end zone provided the difference.
The Giants however were resilient and drove the length, in an extremely long drive, to draw to within two points after the touchdown.
The second half started and the Bills were on defense. The drive that followed helped define this game. The Giants would control the clock for nine minutes before finally scoring the go ahead touchdown. This kept the dangerous Bills offense off the field and wore down the Bills defense.
The Bills got the ball back and scored quickly off a run from Thurman Thomas, but still their defense could not catch their breath.
The Giants got the ball and ground out another brutally long drive, and despite not getting a touchdown were able to put up three points and lead by one. After a few punts the Bills got the ball back with 2:16 left. Their offense had been sitting on the bench for most of the half, but now had the chance to make the finishing drive.
They had the chance to seal a season with a championship.
It all started well for the Bills. Jim Kelly looked like Joe Montana as he drove the Bills the length of the field and set them up in scoring territory. Levy sent out his kicker to attempt a 47 yard field goal to win the game.
20-19, it came down to this. Despite the Giants offense controlling the entire second half, and not allowing the Bills offense to score very much, by simply not allowing them on the field, had hurt them. They were unable to blowout this team as they had so many others, but now came a field goal shot. Despite the tough game, they could end it all with one kick.
An entire city was ready to cheer. Jim Kelly looked on, hoping he had driven them close enough, and hoping that he would finally have his championship. The tired Bills defense looked on hoping to be redeemed for an entire half. A half in which the Giants converted first down, after first down, after first down, but it could all end here.
The kick was off...an entire season of winning led to this…they watched as all they had accomplished was about to be cashed in for the ultimate prize…some could envision the papers tomorrow 22-20 Buffalo…they couldn’t wait for their rings…it looked good…they were World Champions…but wait…no one was cheering…it couldn’t be…it can’t end this way…it sailed wide right…no good…Bills lose…the Bills lost.