What a disaster. I feel bad for anyone that remembers this game. I was only 6 so I remember only vaguely...How can anyone forget Thurman Thomas losing his helmet before the game causing him to miss the first two plays, or Andre Reed throwing his helmet in pure frustration on a non pass interference call resulting in a personal foul? I guess these events epitomize what was Super Bowl XXVI.
The Buffalo Bills entered their second consecutive Super Bowl hungry to make amends for what happened the year before. The team was basically in tact but once again they were not good enough or not well coached enough to win the one that really matters.
The Bills had a remarkable year in 1991. The Bills finished 13-3 including a meaningless week 17 over time loss in which the Bills rested all their main players. They destroyed Kansas City 37-14 in the divisional playoffs and then thanks to Carlton Bailey's touchdown return on an interception of John Elway, they got past the Broncos 10-7 to reach Minneapolis. The Bills offense had perhaps their best season during this stretch of great seasons. Kelly threw for 33 touchdowns 3844 yards. Thurman Thomas had 2038 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns on his way to MVP honors. Andre Reed had 81 catches for 1113 and 10 touchdowns. This allowed the Bills to put up 458 points and have the second highest ranked offense in the league.
The Bills were never able to carry this success into the Super Bowl. They were playing a great team in the Washington Redskins who had a great season under Mark Rypien. They finished 14-2. They had the highest ranked offense and 2nd ranked defense in the NFL. In all reality, the Redskins were the better team, but you wonder how. Look at the comparison position by position: Hall of famer Jim Kelly vs. Mark Rypien. Hall of famer Thurman Thomas vs. Earnest Byner. Yeah, they had Art Monk and Gary Clark and wide receiver, but it is tough to say they are better than Lofton and Reed. The Bills also boasted a great offensive line. Defensively, the Redskins had Darrell Green... and Charles Mann. The Bills had hall of famer Bruce Smith, all pros in Bennett and Odomes and another pro bowler in Talley. The Bills seemed more talented. The only problem was...the Bills were once again out classed on the side line. Levy couldn't get it done in big games, well either could Jim Kelly.
After a scoreless first, the Bills ran into a buzz saw in the second quarter. The skins jumped out to a 17-0 lead and the game was essentially over. The Bills turned one dimensional. Kelly attempted a record setting 59 passes in the loss. He was intercepted 4 times and the Bills laid the ball on the turf another 6 times. They may have recovered 5 of their own in this game but it started an alarming trend of fumble-itis in the Super Bowls. The Skins came out in the second half and put the nail in the coffin with another touchdown to make the score 24-0. A few late scores made it seem respectable but really, this game was a joke.
The Redskins had 417 to the Bills 283 yards of offense. The Bills turned it over 5 times to the Skins 1. The skins had the ball for 34 minutes to the Bills 26. All these numbers scream a blow out and that is exactly what happened. The NFL MVP in this game had 10 carries for 13 yards and lost his helmet. How does the NFL MVP put up a line like that. That might be the worst performance by an NFL MVP in Super Bowl history. The only sad thing for Bills fans after this game is that it wasn't even close to their most embarrassing defeat in a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXVII reflection coming soon, although it will not be pretty.