Music City Miracle

On this day in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson delivers his Fourteen Points speech to Congress.On January 8, 2000, in an American Football Conference (AFC) wild card match-up at Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee, the Tennessee Titans stage a last-second come-from-behind victory to beat the Buffalo Bills 22-16 on a kickoff return play later dubbed the “Music City Miracle.”

By halftime of the game, the Titans led 12-0. The Bills came roaring back after the break, with running back Antowain Smith making two touchdown runs to put his team up 13-12. That lead stood until late in the fourth quarter, when Tennessee ended a 10-play drive with a field goal by Al Del Greco. Tennessee now led 15-13, with 1:28 left in the game. After kicker Steve Christie answered with a 41-yard field goal with only 16 seconds left to play, Buffalo thought they had the win.

When Christie made a short, low kickoff, Lorenzo Neal caught the ball near the Tennessee 25-yard line. Running to his right, he handed off to tight end Frank Wycheck, who spun and threw a low lateral pass to receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson headed down the left sideline, completely fooling the Bills defense and rushing 75 yards into the end zone. The play, named the Home Run Throwback, was designed by the Titans special teams coach, Alan Lowry, to be used only when the Titans were trailing and they expected the opponent to deliver a low line drive, or squib kick, to eat up time on the clock. Tennessee had run the play a number of times in practice, but with the receiver Derrick Mason, not Dyson.

As the Titans celebrated, the game officials huddled to determine whether Wychek’s pass to Dyson had in fact been a lateral and not a forward pass, which would have made the play illegal. After studying the play at the sideline replay booth for a seemingly interminable length of time, Referee Phil Luckett emerged to confirm that the call on the field would stand, and the touchdown was good. The Music City Miracle gave the Titans their first playoff win since 1991 and capped one of the most exciting finishes in NFL playoff history. The Titans made it to the Super Bowl that year, coming from behind to tie the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter before a last minute touchdown put the Rams on top, 23-16.

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