The play, called "Home Run Throwback
," was conceived of by Jeff Fisher
and the Titans
coaching staff. Fisher wanted a play similar to that of "The Play
" (of California
fame). It was practiced on a regular basis--but, like most trick plays
, it never worked
The plan was for tight end Frank Wycheck
to field the kickoff, but the kick was unusually short. It was fielded by fullback Lorenzo Neal
, who immediately handed off to Wycheck.
, remarkably, was not anywhere near the top of the special teams depth chart
and had never run the play before, but was used because Derrick Mason
was injured. He had the play quickly explained to him in the moments before the kickoff.
challenged the play as a meaningless formality; since there were less than two minutes remaining in the game, it was the officials who decided to review the play.
Critical in the review process is the fact that there must be "overwhelming evidence" to overturn a ruling--meaning if it isn't plainly obvious from the replay, then the call stands as made. Referee Phil Luckett
ruled the throw a lateral
as it was being made, and the replay was more or less inconclusive, so the call stood. If Luckett had ruled it a forward pass
then that call would have been upheld instead.
Make no mistake about it, though--Luckett was right. NFL Films
created a CGI
model of the play, taking into account the camera angles of the replays; and they proved--as conclusively as can be hoped for--that the ball did indeed travel backwards.
"The last thing I told my players was to get ready for a trick play," said Bruce DeHaven
, the special teams coach for the Bills who was fired three days afterward. A clear scapegoat
move, the firing was a controversial move that drew its share of criticism.
Indeed, the blame lies on the Bills special teams players
. The players, mostly inexperienced, left their lanes to overpursue Wycheck, leaving a clear path on the other side of the field and a wall of Titans blockers.
If you believe in karma, then you probably weren't surprised by the outcome of Super Bowl XXXIV