Frank Reich

Frank Reich

Frank Reich was drafted by the Bills out of the University of Maryland in the 3rd round in 1985. Frank Reich would not go on to break any Bills records, nor would he play in any Pro Bowls. As a matter of fact, the only time Reich would even get into a game was when starting quarterback Jim Kelly would get injured. Frank Reich was a career back-up with the Bills but he deserves recognition none the less.

Reich got his first NFL start in 1989, after Kelly went down with a shoulder injury in a 37-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills record was 3-2 at the time of Kelly's injury and the prospects for the Bills to make the playoffs looked cloudy. Reich's first NFL start would be at home on a Monday night against the undefeated L.A. Rams. Reich and the Bills would get off to a slow start, falling behind, 13-9, going into the fourth quarter. Reich would then go on to guide the Bills to victory, throwing 10-11 for 132 yards, producing two touchdowns. He would start the next two games, both Bills victories, before giving way once again, to Kelly. In 1990, Reich once again would be pressed into action as Kelly would go down during the 14th game of the season against the N.Y. Giants. The Bills needed to win the next game against their arch-rivals, the Miami Dolphins, to win the AFC East and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bills would win 24-14, with Reich going 15-21 for 234 yards and two TDs, raising his record to 4-0 as a starter.

Reich wouldn't get a chance to start in a game that counted again until the playoffs, after the 1992 season. It was against the Houston Oilers, in a wild card game at Rich Stadium, that Frank Reich would become an NFL hero. The Bills were trailing 35-3 in the 3rd quarter. No team in NFL history had ever come back from such a deficit. Only one team in college football history had come back from a deficit of 31 points, that was Maryland and the quarterback in that game was none other than Frank Reich. Could he do it again? Half the fans at Rich Stadium thought not as they headed for the parking lots. Houston, it looked, would end the Bills Super Bowl run.

Then suddenly...

"It was like time was standing still," Houston wide receiver Ernest Givins said later, "like they were scoring every 15, 20 seconds."

Twenty-eight minutes to go, 32 points down. "We had a chance," Marv Levy would say. "About the same chance as winning the N.Y. Lottery."

Reich engineered the greatest comeback in NFL history, as the Bills went on to win, 41-38 in OT. Reich was 21-34 for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns. Most of it coming in the second half.

In the next game, Reich and the Bills would go on to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 24-3, setting the stage for the Bills third Super Bowl appearence. In the AFC Championship game, Kelly returned to the field and Reich to the bench.

Frank Reich would have one more chance to be a hero in 1993. In game 13 against the Philidelphia Eagles, Kelly would go down and the Bills were trailing, 7-0. Frank Reich would step in to guide the Bills to 10 fouth quarter points for the victory. In the next game Frank returned to his familiar spot on the bench and Jim Kelly would go on to lead the Bills to their 4th Super Bowl in 4 years.

The following season, Frank Reich left Buffalo to become the starting quarterback for the expansion Carolina Panthers. He never enjoyed the same success he had in Buffalo, being replaced mid-way through the season by Kerry Collins. He then left Carolina for the Jets and then the Lions, where he backed up Scott Mitchell and later Charlie Batch. He retired from playing professional football after the 1998 season.


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