Process - Greatest Comeback in NFL History

The Buffalo Bills head to the locker room trailing the Houston Oilers 28-3 at half-time of an opening round playoff game.  “Everyone was sitting at their lockers, dead silence,” Pike said. “Darryl was the last one in. He was ranting and raving, saying we were going to kick their [butts] in the second half, all this macho, gusto stuff. He was high-fiving, slapping everybody.”

Pike laughed at the memory. “You could feel the guys thinking, ‘Darryl, shut up. You’re stupid, we’re getting killed.’ I remember thinking, ‘We’re done.’ But Darryl never stopped the whole halftime. It was constant. But as it went on, guys collected themselves and said, ‘Why can’t we come back?’ “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Reich said. “I was sitting at my locker and Gale said, ‘I know you were part of a comeback like this in college, so you know it can be done.’ ”

The Bills ran out for the second half. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Reich’s pass went through the hands of tight end Keith McKeller to Houston’s Bubba McDowell, who returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.  That’s when most people, including the Oilers, figured the game was over.

 [Then something remarkable happened, the Bills somehow battle back in the 3rd quarter making the score 35 to 24].  The Bills now faced fourth and 5. There was 2:05 left in the third quarter. They were down by only 11. But Levy knew the Bills would be going into the wind in the fourth quarter. Levy wanted to go. Reich called timeout with the play clock running down. He wanted to be sure. “Marv had made the decision to go, but now there was a discussion about it,” “Frank said, ‘I think I know the play,’ ” Levy said. “I took a deep breath and said, 'Go for it, Frank.’ ”

“I knew exactly what play to run,” Reich said. “It was Bull 65. We were going to run four receivers on four vertical routes. If they play Cover 2, I have a chance to get Andre down the middle.” Reich hit Reed down the middle for the TD. “Probably the biggest gamble in Marv’s career,” Reed said. “It gives me chills just thinking about it. I remember in the huddle, we didn’t say, ‘We have to make this or else.’ It was, ‘Let’s make this and go get the ball back.’ ”

The Bills went on to win the game 38-35.  Frank Reich credits finding the strength he needed to lead this great comeback (the greatest in NFL history) from a song he listened to all week long about belief.

  • The players in the locker room asked a question, “Why can’t we come back?” In difficult times can people question their ability or they can question the obstacles in their way.
  • Did the Bills come back on one play?
  • What is the outcome when you stay in the process
  • Does veering from the process (changing who you are) help or hurt you?
  • What can you accomplish if you believe in yourself enough to stick with it?