TOFN "5 Games" podcast: Steve Tasker recalls the heartbreak of a fourth Super Bowl loss
The Buffalo Bills played in three consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s, and each loss was worse than the last. The Bills lost to the New York Giants by one point in 1991, the Washington Redskins by 13 points in 1992 and the Dallas Cowboys by 35 points in 1993.
So Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy gave the Bills simple marching order when they reported to training camp the following summer.
“Let’s piss them off and go again,” recalled Bills special-teams ace Steve Tasker of Levy’s message. “Nobody, nobody wanted to see us in a fourth Super Bowl. Nobody wanted to even think about us having a good team. Nobody wanted us in any way, shape of form associated with the NFL playoffs. They were totally done with us. It was such an embarrassing loss and such a bad Super Bowl to watch. People really blamed us, and rightfully so, for a poor performance.
“So Marv said, `Hey, listen – let them be angry. And if they don’t want us to go, they’re going to have to keep us out.’ He said one of the things I’ve loved about this team over the years was the fact that disappointment doesn’t discourage our team. It makes us angry… That was our mantra. Let’s go.”
The Bills played angry all season, winning 12 games, another AFC East title and another AFC championship. But the season would end yet again with another Super Bowl, this time by a 30-13 count to the Cowboys. Tasker recalled that game – and that season – in this the fourth installment of the Talk of Fame Network’s “5 Games” podcast.
But the fourth Super Bowl was different from the other three. For the first time in three Super Bowls Buffalo found itself in a halftime lead (13-6), holding the mighty Dallas offensive out of the end zone in the first 30 minutes. But a Thurman Thomas fumble on Buffalo’s opening possession of the second half was scooped up by Dallas safety James Washington and returned 46 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
The Bills wouldn’t score again that day. The Cowboys would.
“That really hurt us when they got a free touchdown in a Super Bowl,” Tasker said. “We all knew how devastating that could be. But by the same token I was thinking, `Hey, it’s just a tie game. Let’s go play.’
“But we just couldn’t put it together. We did not put together a passionate performance in the second half. That (Washington fumble recovery) was just one more bad break we got that we didn’t feel like we deserved. We had a hard time recovering from that fumble recovery. I know Thurman did. He’ll tell you that to this day.”
The Bills remain to this day the only team to go to four consecutive Super Bowls. And in the salary-cap era, we may never seen another team do it. Tasker takes pride in that legacy.
“It should be one of consistency,” he said. “For four straight years we were the best team in the American conference. We were on top of everyone’s list of most feared opponents. When they circled games on the calendar, we were the team with a target on our back. We were the team with five or six Hall of Fame players in their prime playing at their peak every year.”
Tasker also talked about beating the Cowboys in Dallas in a regular-season game that year and picks the Buffalo team he thought was the best of the four AFC champions. He also talks about how Buffalo’s fate might have changed had Scott Norwood made that 47-yard field goal in that first Super Bowl to give the Bills a victory over the Giants. His answer will surprise you.
You can listen to this podcast – as well as the other three Tasker podcasts, plus the “5 Games” memories of such Hall of Famers as Charles Haley, Jack Ham and Willie Lanier – at VokalNow.com or by subscribing to our podcasts at iTunes. Click the links below.