Remember back to the year 1990.
The Bills started the season after being handed a first round playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns the previous year. The game was within reach but a Jim Kelly pass to Ronnie Harmon was dropped in the end zone and the Bills were eliminated.
The Dream Season
The 1990 season started with that awful feeling of "what if", and sadly, ended with the same question, "what if"?
The season started with a unique hurry-up offense that often put Jim Kelly in the shotgun formation—we got to know it as the "K-gun" (named after Bills tight end, Keith McKeller).
Week after week, Kelly, Thurman Thomas, James Lofton and Andre Reed thrilled us with offensive firepower. That year Kelly passed for 2,829 yards and 24 TDs—he was the number one rated quarterback in the NFL.
Thomas was the prototype "dual threat" back running for 1,297 yards and gaining 532 yards receiving. The offensive line was spectacular and was led by center Kent Hull and guard Will Wolford.
On defense Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennet, Shane Conlan and Darryl Talley made life unbearable for opponents. Smith alone had 19 sacks to his credit.
The Bills stormed through the AFC on its way to a 13-3 record. They were the favorite to go the Super Bowl.
The Bills headed into Super Bowl XXV as a favorite against the mighty defense of the New York Giants, and most felt that the Bills offense would be too much for Lawrence Taylor and the rest of the Giants defense.
The Giants came in with a ball control strategy in an attempt to minimize the time that the Bills offense would have to do damage. The Giants set the Super Bowl record for time of possession (over 40 minutes).
The Bills and Giants battled back and forth in mainly a defensive struggle with a few explosive plays on offense. The Bills ended up with the ball on their own 10-yard line and only 2:16 left on the clock.
Buffalo drove the ball down field to the Giants' 29-yard line with a masterful final drive by Jim Kelly. That set the stage for kicker Scott Norwood to win the game for the Bills and complete their quest for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Norwood was six for nine on field goals over 40 yards going into this kick—"The Kick" that would go down in NFL history as one of the most painful.
The wind was blowing in Tampa Stadium and this kick would have been difficult for Norwood anyway, as this was about the end of his range, but it was the Bills only chance. The snap from center, good; the hold, good; the kick—wide right.
Imagine though, a different scenario, one that could have very well happened. "The kick is up, it looks long enough...It's good! The Bills win! The Bills win!"
Scott Norwood is smothered in a wave of jubilant Bills, Coach Marv Levy is doused with Gatorade and Lawrence Taylor kneels on the ground with helmet off, tears streaming down his face.
Buffalo fans cheer at the ticker tape parade when the Bills return home. Super Bowl MVP Jim Kelly vows to repeat as champions.
The next three seasons, the Bills go on to repeat as Super Bowl champs an unprecedented four times in a row, creating one of the most historic legacies in modern sport.
The Bills are projected into the national spotlight behind the coaching prowess of Marv Levy. Teams throughout the NFL adopt the "Levy offense".
The Bills offensive line is affectionately nicknamed the "The Electric Company - Part II" and a television sitcom is created with the lead character being Kent Hull.
Cornelius Bennett is asked to be on the President's Committee for Youth Fitness.
The Bills dominance of the early 1990's leads to collegiate athletes and NFL free agents hoping for a chance to play for the Bills.
And the hero of Super Bowl XXV, Scott Norwood, is forever remembered as "Mr. Clutch".
The Bills had an awesome run during the early 1990's and we as fans truly appreciate those days. The pain, the joy, the tears and the screams of laughter—we, as fans love imagining "what if". The past influences the way we look at the future.
Buffalo fans have a unique view of the future tempered by the pain of the past. The Bills will go on and grab the Golden Ring one of these years and I want to be there when they do.
Until they do, we look to the future and imagine, "What if"—this year could be the year to celebrate again.
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