We've already talked about the 1989 Buffalo Bills in our series of the most notable moments in Buffalo Bills history. In 1989 the Bickering Bills almost blew up the great team general manager Bill Polian had put together. The start of that season, though, stands as the 22nd-best moment in franchise history.
The Miami Dolphins were hosting the Bills at Joe Robbie Stadium to open the season on a humid 82 degree day. After taking a 3-0 lead the Dolphins answered with 10 straight points before a Larry Kinebrew touchdown run got the Bills even at the start of the second half. After a blocked punt was returned for a touchdown, the Dolphins didn't trail again until when it mattered most.Dan Marino and Kelly traded touchdown passes and the score stood at 24-20 with the Dolphins in the lead at the two-minute warning. With the Bills out of timeouts and Marino set up to pass on a third-and-eight attempt when Nate Odomes stepped in front of a pass intended for Mark Duper. Odomes' second interception of the game set the Bills up on their own 49-yard line to begin their make-or-break drive needing a touchdown to win the game.
After alternating four completions to Chris Burkett and Thurman Thomas, Kelly fired a pass to Andre Reed on the has mark at the four-yard line. Kelly and the Bills were able to spike the ball with only two seconds left on the clock but a Dolphins player didn't get back before the ball was snapped. The penalty moved Buffalo just inside the three-yard line with two seconds left on the clock.
On a called quarterback draw, Kelly took the shotgun snap, ran through traffic, and dove between two Dolphin defenders for the winning score after time had expired. The team stormed out onto the field and his offensive teammates piled on top of their quarterback.
Miami sent four pass rashers on the play and dropped their linebackers and defensive backs into double-coverage on the running backs and receivers. Left tackle Wil Wolford ran his man past the pocket and Jim Ritcher was able to seal off the defensive lineman with help from center Kent Hull. Andre Reed delayed a charging defensive back just enough to let Kelly find paydirt.
After several minutes the field was cleared and the Bills kicked the extra point despite the Dolphins' early exit. Here's the entire last drive posted by the omnipresent BillCody1960 on YouTube:
The Bills 27-24 victory foresaw great things for the team. Though they finished 9-7 in 1989, the Bills won the division over the 8-8 Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. Had Kelly not found the end zone, it very likely could have resulted in the team missing the playoffs and instead of the Super Bowl run beginning the following year, the bad blood between the team could have boiled over. As it stood, winning cured all ills and Kelly and his Bills went on a great run.