Steve Silva, Boston:
The head coach of the Buffalo Bills may have put his foot in his mouth again (sort of/pun intended) when the subject of the Patriots came up at the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday.
"They're clearly the team to beat and we're coming after them," Ryan told the assembled media at today's AFC coaches breakfast.
There is no question that the Buffalo Bills have improved with the offseason acquisitions of RB LeSean McCoy and WR Percy Harvin. The Bills defense led the way in 2014 as the team improved to 9-7. The final regular season game produced a 17-9 win over the New England Patriots. Rex Ryan believes the Bills are getting closer to the Patriots, especially with the subtraction of CB Darrelle Revis from the Patriots roster.
In contrast to the bombastic Bills head coach, his replacement with the New York Jets is very respectful of the New England Patriots' accomplishments. "You hope it's wide open, but you have the Super Bowl champs in your division, so the whole league is trying to knock them off," Todd Bowles said of the Patriots. Rex Ryan talks singularly, wanting no help from his counterparts.
The Houston Oilers under head coach Bum Phillips cared only about beating the Pittsburgh Steelers. The three year chase to overtake the Steelers in the AFC led to the ultimate dismissal of Oilers' head coach Bum Phillips. The 1978 Houston Oilers finished 10-6, but lost in the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-5. In 1979, the Oilers improved to 11-5, and faced the Steelers again in the AFC title game.
With the Steelers leading 17–10, the controversial play occurred during the last seconds of the third quarter after the Oilers advanced to the Pittsburgh 6-yard line. Quarterback Dan Pastorini threw a pass to Mike Renfro at the back of the end zone, and Renfro appeared to have caught it for a touchdown with both feet in bounds before he fell out of the end zone. TV replays suggested a catch for a touchdown. The officials ruled the pass incomplete, saying that Renfro did not have complete control of the ball before going out of bounds. Video taken by NFL films at a front angle, which was not available to the TV broadcast, supported the official call that Renfro did not establish possession of the ball before sliding out of bounds. The Oilers then had to settle for a 23-yard field goal.
In 1979, replay was nonexistent. The Steelers scored an additional 10 points and defeated the Oilers, 27-13. In 1980, the Oilers finished 11-5. The Pittsburgh Steelers were left out of the playoffs with a 9-7 record. With Pittsburgh now out of the way, Houston was crushed in the first round of the AFC playoffs, 27-7 by the Oakland Raiders.
Bum Phillips was fired by the Houston Oilers.
Rex Ryan should be careful what he wishes for. After all, there are 30 other NFL teams to worry about.
Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.
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