#3 Wide Right:
“Wide right” as affectionately titled by Giants fans, or “The miss” as sadly titled by Bills fans, has gone down as one of the most memorable, and excruciatingly cruel misses in all of sports history. The New York Giants have won 2 Super Bowls since that night in Tampa. The Bills…Zero!
The 1990 New York Giants finished the season with a 13-3 record. There were close regular-season losses to the 49ers and Bills that would set up the redemption playoff tour perfectly for Head Coach Bill Parcells and company.
In 2007, ESPN ranked the 1990 Giants’ defense as the sixth-greatest in NFL history, noting that the team “allowed only 13.2 points a game against a very tough schedule”– they played against seven playoff teams during the regular season. Led by Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, & First-team All-Pro inside linebacker Pepper Johnson. The Giant’s stellar defense carried over into the playoffs, smothering the Bears 13-3. Then ending Joe Montana and the 49er’s quest for a 3-peat in the NFC Championship.
The Bills also finished the 1990 season with a 13-3 record. Buffalo’s hometown team fought their way to an impressive 8-0 W-L tally. It would be the first of a remarkable four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Bills had one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL in 1990, averaging almost 27 points per game. They also introduced the NFL to the no-huddle offense for the very first time. Their defense in 1990 was led by Associated Press Player of the Year, Bruce Smith, as well as All-Pro LineBacker Shane Conlan.
The Bills would edge out the Dolphins in the Divisional playoff round 44-34, before absolutely throttling the Raiders in the AFC championship, 51-3.
The NFL’s Best Two Teams:
The Bills were heavily favored to win Super Bowl XXV. Most experts expected that the Giants’ defense would not be able to contain the Bills’ turbo-charged no-huddle offense, which had scored 95 points in 2 playoff games. Many also questioned how effective the Giants’ offense would be after failing to score a single touchdown in the NFC Championship Game. The weather in Tampa for Super Bowl XXV was perfect (62 degrees), with only 8 MPH winds.
From the opening kick off, The Giants unveiled their run-heavy attack designed to keep the ball away from the Bills high powered offense. Both teams traded field goals in the uneventful first quarter. But the contrast of styles was evident from the very first play. The Giants chewed the clock on their field goal drive, and the Bills struck quick on their drive.
In the second quarter, the Giants were pinned on their 7-yard line. On second down, defensive end Bruce Smith sacked quarterback Jeff Hostetler in the end zone for a safety, increasing the Bills’ lead to 12–3. On the play, Smith had a chance to force a fumble, since Hostetler was holding the football with only his throwing hand. But to his credit, Hostetler kept the ball away from Smith, helping to ensure that only two points would be surrendered. This would turn out to be a pivotal point in the game.
New York Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler (15) celebrates a second-quarter touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Fla.
By the time the 4th quarter rolled around The Giants had turned what was once a 12-3 deficit, into a 17-12 lead. Each team traded scores in the 4th quarter, and with just 12 seconds left in the game…down 20-19, Scott Norwood the Bills’ sure-footed field goal kicker ran off the sidelines. 47 yards is all that stood between the Buffalo Bills and history.
Unfortunately, he kicked Buffalo into the wrong side of victory.
“No good! Wide Right”
– ABC’s Al Michaels
From the moment Norwood’s 47-yard attempt would not split the uprights behind the south end zone at Tampa Stadium…history had been made.
Pandemonium broke out as the celebrating Giants on the field ran over to the praying Giants on the sidelines, almost stunned realizing Norwood’s kick had missed its mark. And just like that the New York Football Giants were champions of the world! Their second Super Bowl victory in just 4 seasons. They came into the game as a heavy underdog but walked out of Tampa Stadium that night with a memorable piece of NFL history.