(Editor's note: Yes, some of us on the staff remember this game while others were just tadpoles swimming along. Here are their memories of it.)
Mike Tracz: Being a stupid 16-year-old kid who didn't really understand the importance of loyalty as a sports fan, I had actually given up on the Bills after the Super Bowl loss to Washington, having decided I just couldn't stomach being a Bills fan anymore. Of course, because of the media attention given to the Bills in this town, it was impossible to stay away for long. Or, to put it in terms our fearless leader would understand: "Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in." Anyway, my family and I listened on the radio half-heartedly, figuring the Bills were already screwed; those same Oilers had knocked out Jimbo with a knee injury the week prior and had soundly thumped the Bills in the process. When Reich was pick-sixed for a 35-3 Houston lead I just started laughing uncontrollably. What other response was appropriate?
The Bills were toast. They were past their peak, the run of success was over, and a return to the 2-14 records from the '80s was sure to follow in the coming years. Furthermore, my previous shunning of the Bills was totally validated at that point. But then Frank Reich, Kenny Davis and Co. somehow pulled off the most improbable, miraculous, amazing thing the sports world has ever seen, teaching me a lesson about loyalty and reminding a whole legion of cynical Bills fans that it's never truly over until the clock hits all-naughts.
As an aside, I finally saw the game four years ago on the NFL Network and two things stuck out in my mind from that viewing. First, the ruthless efficiency with which the Houston offense moved the ball in the first half; that the Bills held Houston to less than 1,000 yards of offense that day is miraculous in itself. Second, it's amazing how over fifteen years later, despite knowing the backstory and the script, that I couldn't stop the chills when Christie's overtime kick sailed through the uprights. To experience moments like that, well, that's why we keep watching, isn't it?
Michael Necci: I was at the Comeback Game. I'll never forget sitting next to my dad and mid way thru the 2nd Quarter, we both decided that we would root for Pittsburgh the rest of the way (Hey, Barry Foster was fun to watch). The score gets to 35-10: "Hey they're gonna make it reasonable" Beebe down the left sideline ..35-17.. Crowd is out of their mind head and for what ever reason at that moment, you can feel the momentum really swing. My dad says to me, "You know.. one more score and they're right back into it.. " Andre Reed scores, 35-24… Oh god… Reed again..35-31.. This was at the "Old" Rich Stadium, before the renovations and you could see outside the stadium. So, from where we were sitting, I look over and people were rushing back into place. Security was letting people back in. Reed AGAIN FOR SIX.. 38-35! It was, and still is, the most amazing event I've ever seen at that Stadium. I was there for 51-3, but the Comeback by far passes it. If you look back at that post season, it was the best run the Bills had in the playoffs, maybe ever. They won the following week at Pittsburgh, then again on the road in the Title Game at Miami. I was CONVINCED they were gonna win the Super Bowl. My parents even got tickets to Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena to see it. Yeah. 52-17. Oh well. We'll always have January 3, 1993. I was there.
Chris: I'm old enough to have memories of the 90s teams and even the comeback game. However, I'm not old enough to remember that day and the aftermath of the game itself minute by minute. Since the game was blacked out here, I've only been able to relive the win through highlights and replays of the game. While I remember the wins against KC, the Raiders and the Dolphins from those years, this isn't a game I have a vivid memory of. What this game is, for me, is a benchmark of sorts of what this franchise was in the 90s. The Bills had such a potent offense, thrived in the swirling winds and shitty weather at Rich Stadium and won games in the clutch, usually. While the 90s are a brief oasis in the desolation that has been 50+ years of Bills football, the thrill of that comeback game and the four Super Bowl appearances that it contributed to is something special.
Brandon: You mean the Bills were once in the playoffs?
Brad Gelber: Being only 3-years old at the time my best memory will probably not be as insightful as the old guys, I mean… the more “experienced” and “seasoned” writers on this staff. Everything I remember has come from secondhand accounts and watching highlights (usually on the anniversary of the game). Reich playing for an injured Kelly is obviously one of the biggest storylines of the game and something older folk have reiterated to me time and time again. I found it pretty cool that Reich not only did it for the Bills, but had mounted a insurmountable comeback for Maryland in college as well. All that aside, the best memory I have of the game had to be Don Beebe's 38-yd TD grab down the sideline in the 3rd quarter to cut the Oilers’ lead to 35-17. The reason behind it is simple… After being screwed over time and time again as a Bills fan, the fact that Beebe stepped out of bounds and got away with it was priceless. Since when do the Bills catch a break?? O ya, and for a fan who has never really seen the team have any success whatsoever, the fact they actually won the game and were even in the playoffs to begin with, is pretty cool too.
AJ Jankowski: Being born in 1989, I was never really able to live any of the glory years live, and was forced to rely on VHS tapes of the games my dad kept. He had six games taped: all four Super Bowls, The Comeback, and a meaningless preseason game against the Browns. Needless to say, there was one tape I popped in far more than the others. Everyone points to backup quarterback Frank Reich — and rightfully so — but backup running back Kenneth Davis played a big role in the comeback as well. Thurman Thomas must have been too winded, right Chan?
Joe: Heading into this game, I probably couldn't be more down on the Bills. This was the first time I had serious doubts about them. During previous two years, the Bills just stormed their way through the AFC and I was spoiled by it to the point that it was shocking to me that they didn't win the division or have a bye. I was use to home field being clinched two weeks before the playoffs. So, my morale was low, especially with Jim Kelly out of the game. Of course, the game wasn't sold out and the only way to follow it was by radio. Now, I hated listening to games on the radio. I'd rather see it than hear it for obvious reasons. So, I kind of went in and out of my parents' room where my sister was glued to it. All I remember was it hit 28-3 and I was done with it. I left the room and just played with toys or something. An hour later, my sister ran into my room and grabbed me by the collar yelling, "Get in here! We are coming back!!" Huh?! For the next hour or so, I had a new found love for the radio. We all know what happened. Funny, but I remember their being like a black market for tapes of the game being sold for like 15 bucks. Looking back, it was the apex for the Bills in my opinion. To any outsider, once you get past the four Super Bowl losses, this game gets mentioned next. I love owning the record for largest deficit eclipsed in NFL history. Anytime I hear a team make a insurmountable comeback, I always make sure it doesn't appear to be 32-points or more. I don't want that record ever breaking. Memories and some records are all we have left of a once proud franchise at this point.