Thursday, January 24, 2008

A different view of "wide right"

It's time for some revisionist history.

Scott Norwood has been associated with his missed field goal in Super Bowl XXV in 1991 since his famous kick went wide to the right. He's also been associated with the word "goat" since that time.

Not fair.

Let's review what happened.

The Bills moved down the field in the last two minutes to try to get into position, in a series that included a scramble and a draw play. Jim Kelly got Buffalo to about the 30-yard line of the Giants in the final seconds. That meant Norwood would have to kick a 47-yarder for Buffalo to turn a loss into a win.

I was watching that game with a reporter who had covered the Bills that season. While I was working for the Sabres at that point in my life, I had helped with coverage of the Bills for the Associated Press. The two of us had the same exact reaction:

"It's too far. He's not going to make it."

The kick was on natural grass, and Norwood hadn't made a kick of that length on grass all season. On turf, maybe he has a chance. He had an extrememly accurate leg, but not a strong one by NFL standards.

Norwood was asked to do something he had not been able to do all season long -- with the NFL championship on the line. If Kelly moves the ball 10 yards farther down the field, I have little doubt that Norwood makes the kick. Norwood gave it a ride, but it was just a little right of the target.

I still have a tape of that game. In hindsight, the Bills' tackling was poor throughout the game and they probably were outcoached, although that's a little difficult for anyone but a coach to determine. Buffalo also was probably overconfident, based on the stories the players have told about their activities at night in the week leading up to that game.

None of that was Norwood's fault. He was put in a position where failure was likely, and couldn't overcome it. That's not a choke, and it's not the definition of a goat.

Not fair.