Still not buying Music City Miracle

In 25 years covering the NFL, there aren't many press box seats as memorable as the one assigned to me, as a reporter for the Denver Post, on Jan. 8, 2000, 15 years ago next week, for the wild-card game at what's now LP Field between the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.

It was directly above the 25-yard line. From directly beneath that press box seat came one of the most storied plays in NFL postseason history.

Moments after Bills kicker Steve Christie booted a 41-yard field goal in the closing seconds, Titans fullback Lorenzo Neal caught the ensuing kickoff and handed it to tight end Frank Wycheck, who ran along the 25-yard line, directly beneath my press box seat. Wycheck stepped back to his left and threw a jump-pass to Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson, who took off 75 yards for the game-winning score.

Madness erupted. Tennessee celebrated. Officials huddled and, eventually, ruled.

In their opinion, the pass was a backward legal lateral.

Only it wasn't. Their decision should have been overturned and/or overruled.

There wasn't -- and still isn't -- a game official, TV camera, replay booth or single person who had a better view than I did of the play that unfolded directly beneath me. Two trusted and reliable sources confirmed to me it was a forward lateral.

My left eye and my right eye.

Each -- with condolences to Buffalo and its tremendous fans -- reported it was an undisputed forward lateral. Officials did not see it that way, but officials did not have my prime seat for the play that still is being replayed, over and over, 15 years later.

Instead, the play sent the Bills home and the Titans to the divisional round and eventually the Super Bowl.

There will be more memorable and historical moments, plays that send teams on or send them home. There will be plays that children remember as adults, and adults carry with them the rest of their lives. There always are. The joy that single plays can bring to certain cities is directly proportionate to the misery the same play can bring to other cities. Just ask Buffalo.

Now, 15 years have passed since the Bills' last postseason appearance, which just happens to be the NFL's longest playoff drought.

Fifteen years have come and gone since a forward pass dubbed the "Music City Miracle" ended the Bills' season and continued the Titans'.

And in all that time, nothing has changed the fact that on Jan. 8, 2000, the Titans' season should have ended and the Bills' should have continued.

Eyes don't lie.

Offseason of change for Saints: Now that the regular season is over, some of the real games begin. Many involve teams that fell short of expectations, such as the New Orleans Saints.

Heading into the offseason, the Saints are projected to be about $25 million over the 2015 salary cap, the most of any team in the league. Next up are the 49ers, who are projected to be about $14 million over the salary cap and Arizona, which is about $12 million over.

Some moves are simple and help a team get closer to the cap. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is scheduled to have a $26.5 million salary-cap number, linebacker Junior Galette is scheduled to have a $15.5 million salary-cap number, and guard Jahri Evans and tight end Jimmy Graham are scheduled to count about $11 million toward the cap. So restructuring some of these deals will get the Saints headed in the right direction.

Still, the Saints team that ended its season in Week 17 will not look the same as the one that kicks off the 2015 season. And the amount of losing a team does usually is directly proportionate to the number of changes it makes during the offseason.

The cap will force the Saints to make plenty. The good part for New Orleans is the Dallas Cowboys were in the same spot last year. No team was in worse salary-cap shape one year ago than the Cowboys. And no team had a more surprising season this year than those same Cowboys.

So the Cowboys offer hope for the Saints. But New Orleans has plenty of moves to make.

Cowboys' unsung administrator: Speaking of the Cowboys, the spotlight in Dallas usually is shining on owner Jerry Jones or head coach Jason Garrett or quarterback Tony Romo or wide receiver Dez Bryant or running back DeMarco Murray. But one of Dallas' real unheralded heroes this season is assistant director of player personnel Will McClay.

His name is not well known outside the Cowboys' organization, but those inside the organization know how instrumental he has been. McClay helped run the 2014 draft that produced first-round pick Zach Martin, not quarterback Johnny Manziel, whom Jones was so tempted to take.

The Cowboys keep the 48-year-old McClay under wraps, but word of his work has begun to seep out. While teams are looking at general manager candidates such as Billy Kuharich, Mike Reinfeldt, Morocco Brown, Lake Dawson, Omar Khan and Trent Kirchner, McClay is somebody who is bound to get more attention.

He attended Rice. He spent time in the Arena League. And he has grown into an important figure in the Cowboys' organization, even if he lacks the name recognition afforded to others there.


Player of the Week: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- Even in the unlikely event that Le'Veon Bell plays, the game is going to ride on the shoulders of Roethlisberger.

Game of the Week: Ravens at Steelers -- Though the Steelers reached the Super Bowl each of the past two times they won the AFC North, the road this time is tougher, starting with Saturday night's wild-card matchup versus Baltimore.