20 years gone: Bills title drifted wide right

Buffalo Bills fans will wince at the idea, but I encourage them to check out a Buffalo News package that looks back 20 years on Super Bowl XXV, the first and most heartbreaking of the Bills' four consecutive trips to the NFL championship game.

Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan, beat reporter Mark Gaughan and editor Greg Connors presented a compelling retrospective of a bittersweet event that began with Whitney Houston's moving national anthem and F-16s whooshing overhead.

"Then I remember the Apache gunship flies over," Bills special-teams star Steve Tasker told Sullivan. "They weren't supposed to fly low, but it seemed to me I could see the whiskers on the guy hanging off the sides. It was as though he wasn't just flying for the ceremony. He was watching over us, like, 'Go ahead and play because I'm on guard.' That was awesome."

The game, however, will forever be remembered for how it concluded.

Scott Norwood's 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right. The Bills lost by a point.

The Buffalo News spoke with two dozen members of the team and uncovered intriguing new information.

For instance, holder Frank Reich revealed for the first time that Norwood kept hooking his practice kicks to the left before the game, possibly impacting his fateful kick. Long snapper Adam Lingner told the story of how Norwood's successor, Steve Christie, noticed the laces were not spun to the proper place, suggesting Reich's hold wasn't as good as believed.

Sullivan also wrote about the brotherhood that was forged and how much the 1990s Bills loved to party. Another piece laid out all the "what-if" scenarios that could have made the difference. The two biggies for me: Bruce Smith's inability to strip Jeff Hostetler on a second-quarter safety and failing to stop Mark Ingram on third-and-13 in the third quarter.

In the style the Buffalo News now handles its Monday coverage of games, Gaughan breaks down Super Bowl XXV with a quarter-by-quarter report of how the game unfolded.

Connors added a feature on Van Miller, "the man who will forever be known as the voice of the Bills," and his recollections of the Bills' heyday. The story includes Miller's call of Norwood's kick.