Andre Reed’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was aided by his performance in big games. ¶ In each of the Buffalo Bills’ first three Super Bowl seasons, he had huge performances that helped them get through the AFC playoffs. ¶ “Andre Reed played for winning teams for a long time and he was huge in big games,” said former teammate and fellow Hall-of-Fame receiver James Lofton. ¶ “Look at his playoff numbers.” ¶ In 21 playoff games, Reed caught 85 passes for 1,229 yards. He ranks fifth all-time in postseason receiving yards. ¶ In his first 16 playoff games (equal to a full season), he had 75 catches for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns.
Here is a subjective ranking of Reed’s 10 greatest games:
1. Bills 41, Houston 38 (OT) 1993 wild-card playoff. Reed caught eight passes for 136 yards and three TDs in the NFL’s greatest comeback. His 26-yard TD pass pulled Buffalo within 35-24. His 18-yarder made it 35-31. His 17-yarder with 3:08 left put Buffalo ahead, 38-35.
The 18-yarder came on a fourth-and-5 play.
“I called timeout because the play clock was about to run out,” recalled quarterback Frank Reich. “We came over to the sideline and reconvened and said, ‘Are we sure we want to go for it here, or kick the field goal?’ Marv Levy said, ‘No, we’re going for it.’ When he said that, I said, ‘I know exactly the play I want to call: Bulls 65 … We’re going to put Kenny Davis out of the backfield running one on one. If it’s Cover 2 and Andre beats his man going down the middle, that’s where I go.’ Is there any question he was going to beat his man?”
The go-ahead TD went up the right seam of the field, and Reich fit the pass into a tiny window just before safety Marcus Robertson, coming from the middle of the field, could deflect the pass in the end zone.
“I’m gonna be looking the other way because I’ve got to hold the safety,” Reich said. “And Andre’s got to be right exactly in the seam, right where I’m going to throw it. You watch it on the replay and there’s no margin for error. He has to be in that precise spot. He was just clutch.”
2. Bills 44, Miami 34 1991 divisional playoff. Reed caught four passes for 122 yards and two TDs, averaging an amazing 30.5 yards a catch. The Bills needed every yard on a snowy day because Dan Marino had a great game, passing for 323 yards and three TDs. Reed caught a 20-yard pass on the Bills’ first play, then had a 40-yard TD catch on the fifth play. His 26-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter iced the win.
3. Bills 37, Kansas City 14 1992 divisional playoff. Reed had four catches for 100 yards and two TDs. His scoring grabs of 25 and 53 yards broke the game open, staking the Bills to a 14-0 lead.
“That year they came into Kansas City undefeated on a Monday night,” said Chiefs star cornerback Albert Lewis. “We had a great game plan to cover him in the slot and we won that game. Then in the playoff game we went to Buffalo and they put Andre Reed on the outside. We couldn’t cover him on the outside, and it opened up seams for Thurman Thomas.”
4. Bills 35, Miami 31 1991 Week 1. Reed caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a TD. Miami came to Buffalo on a mission to avenge the playoff loss the previous January and went ahead, 14-0. Reed scored on a 54-yard pass to get the Bills back in the game.
5. Bills 29, Packers 20 1994 Week 12. Reed caught 15 passes for 191 yards, both personal records. At the time, the yardage total was fifth best in NFL history. The Bills beat a Brett Favre-led team that made the playoffs that year. Reed did most of his damage on the outside, going against cornerback Terrell Buckley, who had one of the longest days of his 14-year NFL career.
“The week before that we played Pittsburgh on a Monday night game and there was a lot of dissension going on inside the team at that time, people yelling at each other,” Reed said, referring to a blowout loss at the Steelers. “We really put it together the following week.”
6. Dallas 52, Bills 17 1993 Super Bowl. Reed caught eight passes for 152 yards. The performance was lost in the gloom of the blowout, but Reed had five catches for 124 yards in the first half, before the Dallas deluge began. He had a 40-yard catch to the Dallas 4, and a 38-yarder to the Dallas 22 (neither of which set up a TD).
7. Bills 47, Houston 41 (OT) 1989, Week 3. Reed had five catches for 135 yards and two TDs. He had a 78-yard TD catch in the third quarter, then won the game with a patented 28-yard catch-and-run in overtime.
“It was a shootout, Kelly against Warren Moon,” Reed said. “It was one of those games, very electric in the Houston Astrodome, very loud. That really told us what our team was about. We pulled it out in the end in typical Bills fashion.”
8. Bills 41, Patriots 7 1992 Week 4. The Bills used to make AFC East wins look easy, like in this rout. Reed had nine catches for 168 yards, the second-best total of his career.
9. Bills 30, L.A. Raiders 27 (OT) 1991 Week 15. Reed’s numbers weren’t eye-popping (eight catches, 107 yards, no TDs). But he was clutch in one of the great regular-season wins of the Super Bowl era. It was a holy-war game for the Raiders, playing at home and out to avenge the 51-3 embarrassment of the previous year. Buffalo rallied from a 27-14 deficit in the final 5 minutes. Reed had a 20-yard catch on a fourth-and-1 play to the Raider 9 with 1:04 to go to set up the tying TD. He had a leaping, 31-yard grab in traffic – caught over the wrong shoulder because Jim Kelly had to deliver the pass a tad early – to set up the winning field goal.
10. Bills 34, San Francisco 31 1992 Week Two. Reed caught 10 passes for 144 yards. There were bigger yardage games for Reed but this was significant, as the two teams combined for 1,086 yards in the first game in NFL history in which neither team attempted a punt.