Music City Miracle

Music City Miracle
LP Field 2009 crop.jpg
Adelphia Coliseum, the site of the game
1234Total
BUF007916
TEN01201022
DateJanuary 8, 2000
StadiumAdelphia Coliseum, Nashville, Tennessee
RefereePhil Luckett
Attendance66,782[1]
Future Hall of Famers
Bills: Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed
Titans: Bruce Matthews
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
AnnouncersMike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire

The Music City Miracle is a controversial American football play that took place on January 8, 2000 during the National Football League (NFL)'s 1999–2000 playoffs. It occurred at the end of the Wild-Card playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills at Adelphia Coliseum, now known as Nissan Stadium, in Nashville, Tennessee. After the Bills had taken a 16–15 lead on a field goal with 16 seconds remaining in the game, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson on the ensuing kickoff return, and Dyson then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown and earn a 22–16 victory.

Pregame info

Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie controversy

Going into the game, Bills coach Wade Phillips created a stir by starting quarterback Rob Johnson, rather than Doug Flutie, who had started 15 games and led them into the playoffs by winning 10 games.[2]

In the 1998 offseason, the Bills signed Rob Johnson as a free agent. Johnson gained a considerable amount of interest around the league after playing well in a Week 1 contest against the Ravens, and was expected to become the primary quarterback for the Bills. However, the Bills also signed former CFL star Doug Flutie after A.J. Smith, their Director of Pro Personnel, heavily valued his talents. Johnson only led the Bills to a 1-3 start before being injured in the middle of his fifth start in Week 6 at Indianapolis. Flutie came in and not only led the Bills to a come-from-behind win, but earned the starting job and led the Bills to a 7-3 record after. The Bills finished with a 10-6 record and Wild Card berth. In 1999, Flutie's stats were down with 19 touchdowns against 16 interceptions, but he went 10-5 as a starter and led the Bills to a second Wild Card berth. With a playoff berth decided, Wade Phillips decided to let Johnson start the Week 17 game against the AFC East division champion, the Colts. Johnson played well in Flutie's place, going 24-32 for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions in a 31-6 win. The following day, Phillips told Johnson he would start in their first round playoff game against the Titans. Years later, Phillips claimed that it was not his decision to start Rob Johnson, and that owner Ralph Wilson had ordered him to do so. It remains unknown why the Bills started Johnson, but it is possible that the investments the Bills had spent on the players played a key role. While Flutie was a low-cost signing for the Bills, Johnson was being paid $25 million over 4 years with the expectation that he become the Bills' franchise quarterback. As a result, Wilson may have wanted to see a return on his investment.

On paper, Rob Johnson appeared to be a better choice. At 6'5", he was a much more ideal height for a quarterback than the 5'9" Doug Flutie. Johnson also possessed a stronger arm than Flutie, and like Flutie, could make plays on his feet as well as with his arm. However, Johnson also held onto the ball for an abnormally long amount of time when dropping back to pass. This resulted in him taking a considerable number of sacks, and with these sacks he was injury-prone.

Virtually all parties were shocked upon hearing the news that Rob Johnson would start ahead of Doug Flutie, and most of the Bills players reacted negatively to the decision. Many of them expressed bafflement that the quarterback who led their team to the playoffs would not start, while receiver Eric Moulds expressed disappointment because he felt he had established a great rapport with Flutie and having a different starting quarterback would take away from that. Other football media outlets also considered the decision to start Johnson over Flutie a bad move. On the statistical website Football Outsiders, Aaron Schatz routinely labeled the decision to start Johnson over Flutie as the worst coaching decision in NFL history.[3][4][5][6]

Expectations

Many fans and media outlets had high expectations for this game. Even though it was only a Wild Card game and the first game of the weekend, it was believed that both teams in the contest were better than their playoff seedings indicated. The Bills, who finished at 11-5, held the league's #1 defense in yards allowed, holding their opponents to just 252.8 yards per game. Meanwhile, at 13-3, the Titans were the most over-qualified Wild Card team in NFL history. As a result, it was believed that whoever won the game would be a serious contender to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.[3][7]

Other Languages
português: Music City Miracle