Today, January 27th is the anniversary of Super Bowl XXV and yes, it still hurts if you’re a Buffalo Bills fan. As if I need to remind anyone, the Giants defeated the Bills 20-19 as Scott Norwood’s kick from 47 yards out went right. I doubt anyone reading this needed the reminder.

Now thanks to ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary done by NFL Films we have again relived Super Bowl XXV and XXVI, XXVII and XXVIII as well.

So much has been said and written about Bill Belichick crafting a defensive scheme in XXV that shut down the Bills no-huddle, but Jeff Hostetler and the Giants offense had much more to do with the NY upset. The Giants held on to the ball for almost 41 of the 60 minutes played in the game and yet the Bills still scored 19 points.

The Bills offense did have several missed opportunities and a key drop by Andre Reed on third and short, but it was the defense that could not make stops on the run and get the ball back to Jim Kelly and company.

The Bills were so confident going into that game that it had to play into their defeat. After destroying the Los Angeles Raiders 51-3 in Rich Stadium the Bills partied through the night. In fact, when they arrived at their hotel in Tampa on Monday it was obvious the party hadn’t ended.

I don’t believe the many rumors that have cropped up over the years about the Bills players being drunk every night and being too hung over for the actual game. I was there all week and the Bills had very tight security at their hotel. Bill Polian and Marv Levy were not about to allow the players to abuse their opportunity. I’m not saying the guys didn’t enjoy the trip, but after Wednesday the late nights stopped. The many stories of poor behavior have been greatly exaggerated.

Bills players were not only expecting a victory against the Giants, they were practically sure of it. The team had already beaten New York and their starting quarterback Phil Simms in the Meadowlands with Frank Reich playing much of the game for Buffalo. With back-up Jeff Hostetler playing QB for New York, the sense was the Bills would win easily. I believe it was that over confidence that played into their defeat as much as any other factor.

The question Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith , Steve Tasker and other members of that team are asked now is if they had won that game won they have returned three more times? Of course they’ll never know the answer, but most feel a Super Bowl championship would have dulled their quest to return in some way. I believe after an off season of banquets and commercial sponsorship gigs they would not have returned for Super Bowl XXVI. I do feel however that they had enough talent to make at least one more trip back and perhaps another victory knowing the sweet taste of triumph as opposed to defeat.

Ironically if the Bills had only won the one Super Bowl most NFL fans would probably have to think hard to remember which one it was. Today I would guess almost all NFL fans remember that the Bills made it to four consecutive Super Bowls, even if they didn’t win one.

Still, that one win would still seem so sweet today, twenty-five years later.

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