Colts head coach Frank Reich is perfectly poised to pull off an upset in Buffalo.
The Indianapolis Colts’ matchup against the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the playoffs this weekend features a slew of intriguing storylines. After a blistering finish to the season, the latter is gaining steam as a legitimate championship favorite, perhaps a year or two ahead of schedule, and the pressure will be on them to advance to the divisional round.
The former, meanwhile, will look to pull off a monster upset after being listed as the third-biggest underdog of the opening round by oddsmakers. While those two narratives are compelling in and of themselves, however, did we ever stop to think of the history between both franchises?
It just so happens that the Colts’ head coach spent nine years with Buffalo as their backup quarterback and is responsible for orchestrating the largest comeback in playoff history in one of the most memorable relief appearances of all time.
In the opening round of the 1993 playoffs, Reich was forced into action in the third quarter after starting quarterback Jim Kelly left with an injury. His unforeseen cameo got off the worst start possible, as he threw a pick six to dig the Bills into a seemingly unsalvageable 35-3 hole. Buffalo would answer with a one-yard touchdown, but at that point the game seemed done and dusted.
From that moment, however, something clicked and Reich was as dialed in as could be, while Houston’s defense literally had no answers for him. Four touchdowns in a seven-minute span later (!) and the Bills took a late three-point point lead before the Oilers put together a commanding drive and kicked a field goal to force overtime.
In fitting fashion, Reich led Buffalo to the game-winning score in the extra quarter, and he was promptly enshrined in football history. For the game, he finished 21-of-34 (61.7%) for 289 yards and four touchdowns to one interception, equating to a 115.9 passer rating. He didn’t quite out-duel Warren Moon from a statistical perspective, but his clutch gene ultimately proved to be superior to that of the Hall of Fame gunslinger‘s for three hours.
It remains to be seen if history will be on Indianapolis’ side on Saturday afternoon, but the fan base has to love that their head coach has first-hand experience when it comes to pulling off miracles on Wild Card Weekend.