The underdog Buffalo Bills knew they would need an early spark in the 1993 Super Bowl against the NFC champion Dallas Cowboys -- and their special teams ace Steve Tasker gave it to them.
The Bills held the Cowboys to a three-and-out on their first possession of the game, forcing Dallas to punt. But Tasker crashed in and blocked Mike Saxon’s kick, setting the Bills up for a short 16-yard touchdown drive and a 7-0 lead.
Tasker recalled that play – and how the tables turned so quickly the other way in a 52-17 loss to the Cowboys – for the Talk of Fame Network in our “5 Games” podcast. This Super Bowl represented Game 3 of Tasker’s five games.
“That was one of my favorite plays, no question about it,” said Tasker, a seven-time special teams Pro Bowler. “It was probably as good a play as I’ve ever made in this league because of the moment that it happened -- first quarter of a Super Bowl, getting a chance to make a play like that… You always felt that it gave your team an extra chance to win and that’s all you want to do as a player. I wanted to contribute to my friends doing well in that game.
“That was the one play I made that I can look back on and say, `Yeah, in the biggest moment, I did actually make a pretty good play.’ I just wish it would have done more to help us win.”
The Bills had lost the two previous Super Bowls to NFC East teams, but Tasker’s blocked punt seemed to be another sign that Buffalo’s post-season luck was about to turn. The Bills rallied from an incredible 32-point deficit behind backup quarterback Frank Reich to win their opening-round playoff game against the Houston Oilers, then went on the road to beat both Pittsburgh and Miami to capture a third consecutive AFC title. Then came the blocked punt.
“Oh yeah,” Tasker said. “It looked like it was going to be a storybook ending. We kept telling ourselves that as we got deeper into the game when Jim Kelly couldn’t finish. We thought, that’s perfect because Frank Reich did the comeback (against Houston) and now he gets to come back in the Super Bowl and he’s going to carry us, too.
“We really had supreme confidence and a lot of momentum. You had to think that having a blocked kick really early in the game would give you a boost and it did… It felt like it was going to be our day. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”
Not only did the Bills lose Kelly in the second quarter to injury, they committed five first half turnovers to find themselves in a 28-10 hole at the intermission. But unlike Houston, the Cowboys didn’t stop scoring in the second half, piling 24 more points on the Bills for a blowout victory.
Tasker walks us through the blocked kick on this podcast and, as a former Big Ten player, talks about finally getting to the chance play in the Rose Bowl before a crowd of 98,000 for that Super Bowl. It also was the last time the NFL has staged a Super Bowl in Pasadena.
“It was really cool,” Tasker said. “Being this was our third Super Bowl, everyone had been playing in big games. But the way that stadium is set up and where it sits, the landscape, the neighborhoods around it, it’s really a spectacular scene. It’s just a massive structure. To see it filled with people…and it was a spectacularly beautiful night. I always felt it was a real privilege to be on that field and in that game. You knew that was a Super Bowl. That was a crowd and a half and it was phenomenal.”
Tasker also talks his special bond with Buffalo special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and about blocking another kick (a field goal) the following week in the Pro Bowl and the opportunity to play in that game for Miami coach Don Shula. You can listen to this podcast – and all of our podcasts – at VolKalNow.com or by subscribing to our podcasts at iTunes. Click the links below: