TOFN podcast: Steve Tasker recalls the greatest comeback in NFL history
The Buffalo Bills went to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s and never lacked for confidence.
Except for one game, recalls Buffalo special teams ace Steve Tasker, who visited the Talk of Fame Network this week as part of our “5 Games” podcast to revisit five significant games in his career.
The one game the Bills lacked their usual swagger was a 1992 wild-card playoff game at home against the Houston Oilers. Buffalos would be without its Pro Bowl quarterback Jim Kelly and Pro Bowl linebacker Cornelius Bennett because of injuries against a team that had throttled the Bills, 27-3, just seven days earlier.
“I hate to say that that team ever lacked confidence, but you’ve got to think there was some doubt in our lockeroom,” Tasker said, “because seven days before we played the same team in Houston and the Oilers lumped us up. They really handed us our heads. They hit us hard. They were more physical in that game. We just didn’t look good in that loss to end the regular season.
“Then to play the exact same team seven days later. Although it was in our building, they came in full of confidence and we came in limping because Jim had been put out of the (previous) game by the Oilers and Cornelius Bennett couldn’t go either. There were plenty of excuses in our pocket.”
It was as bad as the Bills could have pessimistically excepted. The Oilers raced to a 28-3 halftime lead. But in the lockerroom, Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy challenged his Bills.
“He said, `Guys, I don’t know if we’re going to come back and win this game. But let me tell you this – don’t ever let anybody say you quit in this game,’” Tasker recalled. “We kind of looked at each other and said, `You know, he’s right. We’ve been to two Super Bowls, we’ve got a lot of pride in our room. Let’s just finish it out and no matter what happens, we’re going to play hard and at least get some of our dignity back.”
That set the stage for the greatest comeback in NFL history. The Bills fell behind even further when Bubba McDowell ran an interception back for a touchdown on Buffalo’s opening possession of the third quarter for a 35-3 lead.
“Darryl Talley walked by Marv Levy for their extra-point attempt and said, `Don’t work Marv, we’ve got them right where we want them,” Tasker recalled.
Buffalo’s backup quarterback Frank Reich then took charge, throwing three touchdown passes in the third quarter to pull the Bills back to 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter. He threw another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and the Bills wound up winning in overtime, 41-38. The Bills remain the only team in NFL history to rally from a 30-point deficit for a victory.
“The emotion of that game is really what made that game so special,” Tasker said. “The crowd got into it, our team got into it and the Oilers, because of their confidence that the game was over early in the third quarter, had turned it off. Their emotion was non-existent.”
Tasker also talks about the surprise onside kick in that game and the calming effect Levy always had on the Bills. You can listen to this podcast – and all of our podcasts – at VolKalNow.com or by Listen to this podcast at VoKalNow.com or you can subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes. Click the link below: