Wade Phillips kicked officiating crew out of Bills’ facility over Music City Miracle

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The new Wade Phillips book, Son of Bum, contains plenty of stories from decades of NFL experience. One story relates to the aftermath of the last time the Bills played in the postseason.

In the offseason following a loss to the Titans as a result of the notorious Music City Miracle, an officiating crew traveled to Buffalo to review with Phillips and his staff the rule changes for the coming season. The presentation included video of certain plays from the prior year, with an explanation as to why certain calls were or weren’t made.

“All of a sudden, one of the first plays to appear on the screen was the Music City Mistake,” Phillips writes. “They didn’t just show the play, but they also said it was an example of ‘why we’ve got good officiating’ in the NFL. I couldn’t believe it. None of us could. . . .

“That really made me mad. Every coach in that room was fuming. As far as I was concerned, our meeting was over. ‘Turn it off!’ I said. ‘We don’t want to see that. First of all, it’s wrong. And for your to sit there and say it’s right is wrong. You need to get out of here right now.'”

And they did.

Phillips, by the way, takes responsibility for authorizing a “bloop” kick in that spot without clarifying that the ball should be kicked toward the sideline and not down the middle of the field. He also admits to not having a good plan for the situation, and for not being properly prepared.

But he still insists that Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw an illegal forward pass, and Phillips contends that the officials didn’t overrule the call on the field via replay review because “[t]hey probably thought they would have gotten lynched” by a hostile crowd in Nashville.

The real hostility came later, when the seemingly mild-mannered Phillips ejected league officials who had engaged in even worse planning and preparation than Phillips and the Bills had.

Son of Bum, written by Phillips with Vic Carucci, is available at Amazon and elsewhere.

46 responses to “Wade Phillips kicked officiating crew out of Bills’ facility over Music City Miracle

  1. I like and respect Wade from his and his fathers time in Houston as well as the success he’s had as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but how big of a whiner can this guy be?

    The Frank Wycheck pass was a lateral. It wasn’t forward and it wasn’t backwards. The play happened on a field line so you could see it perfectly.

    Regardless, even if the call was bad, every team gets screwed at one point or another. Look at the Raiders with the Tuck game or the Bucs with the Bert Emanuel catch.

    No wonder he takes and uses his fathers legacy instead of his own because he does nothing but whine. He did it in Buffalo, he did it in Dallas, he did it in Houston, now he’s doing it in LA?

  2. It was slightly backwards (and as close to a perfectly straight lateral as you could expect). It’s kind of sad he can’t let that go and admit it.

    It’s compounded by the fact that he admits his own coaching mistake – but then he doubles down by basically saying, “Well, I screwed up, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the refs had called the play right”. Believe me – I remember Super Bowl 40 quite well, I know bad officiating, and this sir, wasn’t bad officiating. They got the call right and you can’t admit it because it means that loss was entirely on you.

  3. Wade made many blunders as a HC because he was in over his head. Phillips refused to wear a headset even though he was the HC.

    I’ll never forget when he said of the Bills “We don’t have punt returners here, we have punt catchers.”

  4. Anyone who can honestly say that it was a lateral after watching the replay is the worst kind of homer snowflake. Not a fan of Phillips but at least he admitted he wasn’t prepared for that and lets face it, neither were the officials. You can whine aboot the tuck rule all you want but it was at that time a rule no matter how stupid. The Bert Emanuel thing escapes my memory.

  5. Here’s the truth — Bills fans will always say it was a forward pass and Titans fans will always say it was a lateral.
    I watched it live, and I watched them replay it over and over. I still watch it when they show it.
    Here’s my view of it as a Packers fan. Watching it live, there was no doubt in my mind what so ever that it was a forward pass, not a lateral. After they replayed it over and over, it was clear to me that the angle of the replay was not sufficient to get a definitive answer as to whether it was legal or illegal. So, I still don’t know whether it was legal or illegal. But — the call on the field was it was a lateral, so that’s the way it is. Nothing anyone says or does will ever change that.
    But Phillips nailed what the real point of it all is — that his Bills did a lousy job of punting the ball and then getting the ball carrier down after the lateral. They cost themselves the game, it wasn’t the officials who cost them the game.
    One other thing. I can’t argue with Phillips about what would have happened had the officials overturned the ruling on replay. The fans would have gone crazy.
    It’s the same reason the officials at the Immaculate Reception didn’t overturn that catch by Franco Harris. I watched that one live, too, and have seen it dozens of times since then and there is no doubt in my mind that the catch was illegal touching by the offense and should have been nullified. The rule was changed after that so now two offensive players can touch the ball on a completed pass. But based on the rule which was in place at that time, the Raiders lost one they should not have lost in my opinion. Even Franco Harris knows the TD should not have counted.
    Now — here’s the other thing. The NFL is better off having those two plays as part of their history. If they had not counted as TD’s, we wouldn’t be remembering either of those games the way we do today. Those two plays will be remembered as long as there is an NFL, and rightly so.
    Ralph Branca, who was the pitcher who gave up the most storied home run in baseball history to Bobby Thompson, giving the NY Giants the 1951 pennant, always said he was not upset at all that he was remembered for that. He said if it weren’t for giving up the “shot heard ’round the world”, he probably wouldn’t have been remembered at all. He was so right.

  6. I like Wade “Son of Bum” Phillips, but some of these stories are sounding like what He wished he had done, not that they happened at all. Might be a HOF DC, just not a good head coach.

  7. alonestartexan says:

    The Frank Wycheck pass was a lateral.
    ===============================

    Wrong.

  8. Whether the play was a lateral or forward pass (I watched it live), the Bills punt coverage unit totally broke down on the play–players didn’t stay in their lanes….the ball was punted to the wrong spot because Philips wasn’t clear enough…then it was chaos and they scored….they picked the worst possible time for their worst punt coverage.

    So bad ball placement due to poor communication, poor coverage on the play, and the coach loses his mind over the officials and the call? Maybe get angry nobody could make a tackle before the guy scored–pretty sure that would have ended the game.

    Maybe if he had kept his cool and listened to the officials, watched the rest of the presentation, he would have kept that HC job or the others he had over the years. Instead, he went back to being a DC.

  9. That play was too close to call and you could argue it either way. For that reason, Philips really has no complaint. He should second guess himself for picking Johnson over Flutie.

  10. It’s not even controversial. It was a lateral. It was actually ever-so-slightly backwards. Google what lightninglucci above said. It’s rock solid proof, and I have no affection for either team.

    I admit, when I saw it live I thought it was forward, too. But the officials got it right.

  11. Someone reputable (I can’t recall who) did a computer analysis recently that concluded the call was correct and that it was not a forward pass. But hey, don’t let fact get in the way playing your victim card.

  12. None of this “Bills fans see it one way, Titans fans see it another” BS is true.

    Wychek stands between the 24 and 25 yard lines when he throws. The guy who catches it stands between the 25 and the 26.

    And I’m not a Bills fan. It wouldn’t matter if I was.

    It’s forward pass.

    End of story.

  13. The interesting part is not whether it was a lateral or forward pass.
    The issue is when a call is so close it’s hard to tell live, which way does it go?
    Does it go for the more marketable team or players?
    Does it go for the home team?
    Does it affect the spread?
    Think immaculate reception went to the home team
    Think Bert Emanuel went to the home team.
    Think Music City Miracle went to the home team.
    The Tuck Rule went to the home team.
    Sugar Bear Hamilton’s roughing call along with the less well known Villapiano DPI went for the home team.
    The Hail Mary went to the visiting team.
    So when calls are so close they could be called either way, how do the refs call them?
    My thought is don’t screw the favored home team in the playoffs unless you’re helping a marketable road team.

  14. @motleytrap

    Based on your snarky response I suppose since I can’t recall exactly who did the analysis then that means it is wrong or didn’t take place. Makes sense.

  15. In Buffalo, this game is known as ” The Forward Lateral Game ” If you watch the actual game ( not the edited replay )
    The view is a tough call. Then they show the overhead view. Joe Theismann is the commentator, and he says ” this one is coming back ” when you look at the overhead, the ball is thrown from behind a yardline and caught in front of it. It only goes forward the length of a football, but it is caught in front of the line. FORWARD LATERAL.

  16. Refs made big mistake in attempting to show that play right off. What were they thinking?

    Wade acted out and inappropriate. He should have used that opportunity to make his viewpoint known.

    The NFL fines coaches who talk bad about refs and call. This is a step above that. Action has to be taken.

  17. Google the video – it was forward – the ball travels from one side of the line to other, inches maybe but clearly forward – it’s a joke that the nfl uses this play on one their highlight reels – Someone said to me at the time, ‘If you can bribe a border guard, you can bribe an nfl ref’

  18. alonestartexan says:
    Jun 4, 2017 12:05 PM
    I like and respect Wade from his and his fathers time in Houston as well as the success he’s had as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but how big of a whiner can this guy be?

    The Frank Wycheck pass was a lateral. It wasn’t forward and it wasn’t backwards. The play happened on a field line so you could see it perfectly.

    Regardless, even if the call was bad, every team gets screwed at one point or another. Look at the Raiders with the Tuck game or the Bucs with the Bert Emanuel catch.

    No wonder he takes and uses his fathers legacy instead of his own because he does nothing but whine. He did it in Buffalo, he did it in Dallas, he did it in Houston, now he’s doing it in LA

    Go back and watch SB50.

  19. “The NFL fines coaches who talk bad about refs and call. This is a step above that. Action has to be taken.”

    Hilarious. The league is not going to “take action” on something that happened 18 years ago and they didn’t act on at the time.

  20. Do your homework on it, everyone. Go to YouTube and watch the Actual TV Broadcast for the Music City Miracle, FF to 2:05 that shows the only camera angle directly on the sideline. It was a lateral. Facts, not feelings.

  21. therealtrenches says:
    Jun 4, 2017 3:05 PM
    None of this “Bills fans see it one way, Titans fans see it another” BS is true.

    Wychek stands between the 24 and 25 yard lines when he throws. The guy who catches it stands between the 25 and the 26.

    And I’m not a Bills fan. It wouldn’t matter if I was.

    It’s forward pass.

    End of story.
    ——————————–
    Wychek’s front foot (his right) was about 2″ behind the 25, and he threw the ball (with his right hand) from a side arm angle. The ball was slightly beyond the 25 when he threw it. And it was slightly beyond the 25 when it was caught. Looked like a lateral to me. Doesn’t matter where Wychek’s feet were, it matters only where the ball was. Looked like a good. But that’s one of the great things about sports. The fan debate for years after these controversial calls. Fans don’t even have to be right to be right. Look at all the references we still get to the tuck rule. One of the dumbest rules of all time. But completely correct on the field. And there are people that believe it was wrong. Amazing right? And that’s part of why we watch. I love NFL football.

  22. alonestartexan says:
    Jun 4, 2017 12:05 PM
    …Regardless, even if the call was bad, every team gets screwed at one point or another. Look at the Raiders with the Tuck game…
    ———————————-
    Bad example as (no matter how much people hated it) that rule was correctly applied. And earlier in the season the Jets won a 10-3 game against the Pats after the Jets benefitted to very first time the new (1999) rule was applied. Had the “unfair” rule never existed Raiders mightn’t have even played the Pats, because the Jets would’ve not got that last wildcard spot and the Raiders would’ve played the Seahawks in wildcard weekend (who they split the two divisional games with back that year).

  23. alonestartexan says:
    Jun 4, 2017 12:05 PM
    I like and respect Wade from his and his fathers time in Houston as well as the success he’s had as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but how big of a whiner can this guy be?

    The Frank Wycheck pass was a lateral. It wasn’t forward and it wasn’t backwards. The play happened on a field line so you could see it perfectly.
    ————————
    I just watched the play on Youtube and you can CLEARLY see that it was a forward pass. I’m a Pats fan so I have no dog in this fight. The Bills got screwed.

  24. The 36 up and 136 down only proves how stupid the average NFL fan is apparently. Computer generations have been run to prove that the ball was thrown laterally, people that have analyzed the play have drawn straight lines on the field from where the ball left Wycheck’s arm to the spot Dyson caught it, and still people want to cry that it was forward.

    The Titans went on to crush Jacksonville for the 3rd time that season and lost by a yard in the Super Bowl.

    Buffalo went on to never make the playoffs again.

    For those that don’t remember the Emanuel play, the Bucs were losing to the Rams 11-5 in the NFC Championship Game and were driving late. Earlier in the season starting QB Trent Dilfer had broken his collarbone against Seattle leading to rookie Shaun King making his debut.

    King was leading a late drive downfield when he finally had a break through long pass to Bert Emanuel which was a catch but was overturned because a small part of the ball touched the turf, despite his hands being under it between the ground and the ball.

    There would be a lengthy delay for replay which took the wind out of their drive after the pass was called back. They’d end up throwing a pair of incomplete passes and turning the ball over on downs, sending the Rams to the Super Bowl to face the Titans in Super Bowl 34.

  25. Watch where the ball leaves Wycheck’s hand (not where he’s standing) and where Dyson catches the ball (not where he’s standing). The lateral actually went slightly backwards.

  26. internetcommenter7 says:
    Jun 4, 2017 7:00 PM
    If you think it was a legal play, you’re a moron. Period.
    -Patriots fan
    _________________________________________

    What an excellent, well-researched, persuasive argument. If you can’t do any better than that, you’re probably wrong.

  27. The Bills could have made a tackle and rendered the entire argument mute; but, their coverage team failed miserably on the play. If you’re still complaining about this you’re basically just mad the refs didn’t let the Bills off on a technicality because they couldn’t stop the play themselves.

  28. Wychek stands between the 24 and 25 yard lines when he throws. The guy who catches it stands between the 25 and the 26.
    ———

    Not only was Wycheck leaping, but by rule foot location is not relevant. Only ball position matters. The sideline cam on the GL side of the 25 actually showed a very slight backward trajectory. Google it. Wycheck’s arm – and the ball – were just ahead of the 25. Dyson reached back from his body to catch it just ahead of the 25.

    The live feed was misleading, but the sideline tape was clear. The NFL and NFL Films both agreed.

  29. The Immaculate Reception was the real miracle. The ball hit Tatum, not Fuqua. It was a legit play, and the refs got it right. I like Wade Phillips, but I’m sorry. I’m not reading the book.

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