The NFL playoffs for the 2015 season began at 3:20 p.m. Central Time today. The Chiefs are kicking the crap out of the Texans, who are getting absolutely shitty quarterback play from Brian Hoyer, who has thrown three interceptions and fumbled. It frankly should be a lot worse than 20-0.
The Houston Cougars, who went 13-1 and won the Peach Bowl under first year coach Tom Herman, would have put up a better fight today than the Texans. The Cougars’ quarterback, Greg Ward Jr., could have used his athleticism to make plays out of the pocket, and Herman would not have put Ward in bad situations the way Bill O’Brien has done with Hoyer.
Houston has never experienced a Super Bowl, whether it be with the Oilers from 1966 (the first season of the Super Bowl) through 1996, or the Texans since 2002. Guess what? It won’t happen until Houston finds a quarterback. Save for a couple of decent seasons from Matt Schaub with the Texans, the last time a Houston NFL team had a strong quarterback was Warren Moon with the 1993 Oilers.
Speaking of the 1993 Oilers, the Chiefs are one quarter away from winning their first playoff game since winning 28-20 over the Oilers at the Astrodome in that season’s AFC divisional round. Houston started 1-4 in 1993, but won its last 11 regular season games, and many experts believed the Oilers would win the AFC and prevent football fans everywhere the misery of the Buffalo Bills losing in the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive season.
Instead, the Chiefs came to Houston and rode the right arm of some guy named Joe Montana to advance to the AFC championship game for the first time since Kansas City won Super Bowl IV in January 1970.
The Chiefs are still looking for their first trip to the championship game since defeating the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans. Kansas City lost the 1993 AFC championship game at Buffalo, with Montana exiting in the second quarter due to a concussion after a hard hit by Bruce Smith. The Bills won 30-13, and would lose Super Bowl XXVIII by the exact same score to the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike Super Bowl XXVII, when Buffalo turned it over nine times in losing 52-17, the Bills led 13-6 at halftime, only to squander the lead early in the third quarter when the Cowboys’ James Washington returned a Thurman Thomas fumble for a touchdown.
The Bills have won ONE playoff game since Super Bowl XXVIII. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999, when they were eliminated by the Tennessee Titans in the wild card round by the Music City Miracle.
Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson resigned two months after Super Bowl XXVIII. Barry Switzer came in and led the Cowboys to victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, but Dallas has won just two playoff games since, and has yet to return to the NFC championship game.
The Chiefs now await the outcome of tonight’s Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game to see where they play next. If the Steelers win, Kansas City is on its way to New England to face Tom Brady and the Patriots. If the Bengals win, the Chiefs are in Denver for a third meeting with the Broncos. The last thing I would want as a coach is facing Brady and Belichick in Foxborough. No way.
Kansas City fans, do NOT wave Terrible Towels. You want the Bengals to win.
In an utterly meaningless NFL game yesterday, the Bills defeated the Cowboys 16-6 in Buffalo. Both teams came into the game out of the playoff race, and neither can have a winning record, since the Bills are now 7-8 and the Cowboys fell to a wretched 4-11.
I guess Buffalo still has something to play for next week since if Rex Ryan can lead the Bills to victory over the Jets, Ryan may be able to keep his former employer out of the playoffs.
The Jets overtook the Steelers for the second AFC wild card when Pittsburgh lost in Baltimore and New York defeated the mighty Patriots 26-20 in overtime in New Jersey. New England won the overtime coin toss, but Mr. Sunshine himself, Bill Belichick, told his captains to kick off to start overtime. Ryan Fitzpatrick burned the Pats with the winning touchdown pass to Eric Decker (Mr. Jessie James).
Back to Dallas and Buffalo. Yesterday’s matchup brought me back to an earlier meeting between the two clubs.
The clubs played in back-to-back Super Bowls following the 1992 and 1993 seasons, the only time that’s happened, although there’s a chance it could this year if the Patriots and Seahawks oblige, although the Cardinals are in no mood to help their NFC West rival.
The first matchup was horrendous; the Bills turned the ball over nine times and lost 52-17, and it might have been worse had Don Beebe not knocked the ball out of the right hand of Leon Lett at the 2-yard line in the closing minutes, forcing a fumble which resulted in a Buffalo touchback instead of a Dallas touchdown. The second meeting saw the Bills lead 13-6 at halftime, only to lose 30-13.
Yet it wasn’t either Dallas-Buffalo Super Bowl I remembered yesterday while I sat in Buffalo Wild Wings watching the games.
It was November 18, 1984, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I was eight years old and in the third grade at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic school, about one mile from my home and only a few feet from the home of the Dauterive family.
My parents, my brother and I went to visit my maternal grandmother, who lived by herself in a shotgun duplex in the Algiers section of New Orleans, the part of the Crescent City which was on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River from the rest of the city. We would go over there on many a Sunday after lunch, but this time, we were there earlier, in time for the early NFL games to kick off at noon.
The early game on CBS was Dallas at Buffalo. The Cowboys were starting to crumble, but still had future Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Randy White, and were in the thick of a four-team fray in the NFC East with the Giants, Washington and the St. Louis Football Cardinals, who were having a rare good season.
The only race the Bills were in by November 18, 1984, was the race for the #1 draft pick. And thanks to Buffalo’s perfect record–the wrong kind of perfect–it really wasn’t a race.
Buffalo came in 0-11. The Bills’ standout quarterback, Joe Ferguson, was hurt. Their top running back of previous seasons, Joe Cribbs, had defected to the United States Football League following the 1983 NFL season, signing a contract with the Birmingham Stallions, a popular move given Cribbs starred at Auburn in the late 1970s. Buffalo’s defensive leader, inside linebacker Jim Haslett, was out with an injury. Nose tackle Fred Smerlas was getting absolutely bludgeoned, simply because the Bills lacked competent ends.
Ferguson wasn’t supposed to be the Bills’ starting quarterback in 1984.
That was supposed to be the domain of Jim Kelly, who was selected 13th overall by Buffalo in the 1983 draft. Kelly, who played for Howard Schnellenberger at Miami, refused to sign with the Bills and instead went to the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. He wouldn’t play for the Bills until 1986, and only after the USFL won only $3 in its antitrust case vs. the NFL.
CBS’ announcing team, Dick Stockton and Hank Stram, focused on the Cowboys in their opening spiel. The Bills were winless, and CBS probably resented having to cover a game in Buffalo. Since Buffalo is in the AFC, CBS had to only go to western New York twice a year at most. The game was blacked out in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse since it was not sold out, even though the Cowboys were in Buffalo for the first time since 1971.
Those who weren’t at what was then known as Rich Stadium (now Ralph Wilson Stadium) missed a really good show.
On the first play from scrimmage, Greg Bell, a rookie from Notre Dame who became an immediate starter following Cribbs’ departure for Alabama, took a handoff from backup quarterback Matt Kofler. Bell burst past the Cowboys’ defensive line led by White and Ed (Too Tall) Jones, outran the linebackers and left Everson Walls and Ron Fellows in his wake.
The 85-yard touchdown left the Cowboys, dressed in their unlucky dark blue jerseys, shell-shocked.
Bell finished the day with 206 yards on 28 carries, becoming the first opposing player to rush for 200 yards vs. the Cowboys since Jim Brown did so for the Browns two days after President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963.
Buffalo 14, Dallas 3. Maybe the most embarrassing loss for the Cowboys to that point in franchise history.
The Bills ended the year 2-14. The consolation was the #1 draft pick, which the new general manager, Bill Polian, used to select Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith. Once Smith, Kelly, Cornelius Bennett, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and all the rest of the pieces were in place, the 1984 disaster (and the one glorious afternoon) were a distant memory.
As for Dallas, the decline was on whether or not anyone knew it. The Cowboys finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974. They won the NFC East in 1985, largely by going 3-1 vs. the Redskins and Giants, but in 1986, Dallas finished 7-9. In 1988, the Cowboys went 3-13, and two months after the season ended, Tom Landry was unceremoniously fired by new owner Jerry Jones, who hired his college roommate, Jimmy Johnson.
Later that afternoon, I watched the 11-0 Dolphins lose 34-28 in overtime at San Diego when Buford McGee rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown.
The next night, the Saints won their first Monday night game, defeating the Steelers 27-24 in the Superdome. I couldn’t watch, because the game was blacked out.
Any Given Sunday? It was never more on display than November 18, 1984.