HOF Artifact of the Week

HOF Artifact of the Week

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This is a piece of AstroTurf from the “Greatest Comeback” in NFL history. Before the start of the 2000 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills had a new AstroTurf surface installed in Rich Stadium (now New Era Field). The old surface had been in use throughout the 1990s.

Before the old surface was totally removed the team decided to cut out and save one historic spot on the field. The piece they saved is the spot where Steve Christie kicked the game winning field goal in overtime for the Bills 1992 AFC Wild Card Playoff overtime victory over the Houston Oilers (Final Score: 41-38). The winning field goal completed the greatest comeback in NFL history, a 32-point comeback.

At one point in the third quarter the Bills trailed the Oilers 35-3. Christie's game-winning kick came on a 32-yard field goal three minutes and six seconds into overtime. The hashmark on this piece of turf is from the 22-yard line.

The 1992 AFC Wild Card game looked to be over before it started. The Houston Oilers quickly built a 28-3 halftime lead with the help of four Warren Moon touchdown passes. What was believed to be the final nail in the coffin came just moments into the second half when Houston strong safety Bubba McDowell intercepted a passed and ran 58 yards for another Oilers' score.

Faced with watching their team trail by 32 points, many fans made their way to the parking lot while the Bills headed for the record book. Buffalo’s backup quarterback Frank Reich, who was filling in for the injured Jim Kelly, led the charge. Interestingly, Reich who played behind Boomer Esiason in college at Maryland, led the Terrapins to what was then the greatest comeback in college football history as a senior.

Buffalo began their rally with a one-yard run by Kenneth Davis and when Christie recovered the ensuing onside kick, Reich took over the show. He calmly directed the offense as he connected first with Don Beebe and then hooked up with Andre Reed for three more touchdowns. The Bills’ flurry put them ahead 38-35 with just under 3 minutes to play. With seconds left in regulation, the Oilers’ Al Del Greco tied the score with a 26-yard field goal kick to send the game into overtime.

Early into the extra session, defensive back Nate Odomes intercepted a Moon pass at the Oilers’ 37 yard line to set the stage for Christie’s dramatic finish.

Our weekly artifacts and other unique items are featured daily in our docent presentations for visitors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Plan your visit to the Hall to learn more about the collection in our archives.

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