A sad playoff reminder

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

Fair to assume no one who cares about the Buffalo Bills will find cause to celebrate this anniversary.

But it was eight years ago today in Nashville at what was then known as Adelphia Coliseum that the Bills most recently contested a playoff game.

What came to be known as the Music City Miracle -- the last-minute, trick kickoff return for a crazy winning touchdown -- will forever be a part of Bills playoff lore.

Some call it the Flutie Curse -- coach Wade Phillips' decision to replace quarterback Doug Flutie with Rob Johnson days before that AFC wildcard meeting with the Titans started it.

Some call it a fluke -- Frank Wycheck's lateral to Kevin Dyson, who returned it 75 yards for a touchdown and a 22-16 win.

No one said it had to be the final chapter in Bills playoff history, however.

In the past eight seasons, the Bills have changed coaches, general managers and quarterbacks almost at will. And still not a sniff of the post-season.

Instead, Bills fans are left to watch teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins rebuild and reload and at least get a taste. In fact, the Bills join the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions as the only three teams not to make the playoffs since the 1999 season.

In the present, as has become their way, there were just enough positive signs in a 7-9 Bills campaign to have enough people thinking "maybe next year."

Rookie running back Marshawn Lynch (who was a 13-year-old on Music City Miracle day, by the way) made it easier to forget Willis McGahee and his big head and bad attitude.

The promise of rookie quarterback Trent Edwards is also enough to say so long to J.P. Losman.

Sure, it was dramatic when Losman's agent demanded a trade last week, but there can't be too many in what's left of the Bills braintrust who will worry about that threat after all the failed chances over the past several seasons.

Business-wise, replacing Marv Levy will be an immediate off-season priority. So too will preparations to become the part-time Toronto Bills for the one pre-season and one regular-season game planned for 2008.

And in a league where parity is supposed to rule, the Bills will see if they can find directions to the party once again.

CANUCK ON CANUCK

It will get scant attention in the overall story of the divisional playoff between the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.

But assuming Pats offensive lineman Nick Kaczur returns from a foot injury, every time New England lines up on offence there will be a potential Canadian on Canadian tussle in the trenches.

From his right offensive tackle position, Brantford native Kaczur will go head to head on occasion with Vancouver native Rob Meier, a starting defensive tackle for the Jags.

It may evolve into a big story too, considering the Jags defensive front got to Ben Roethlisberger for six sacks this past weekend.

QB GAMES

In three of the four divisional-round games there is a vast class difference in quarterback quality.

Tom Brady vs. David Garrard, Peyton Manning vs. Philip Rivers and Brett Favre vs. Matt Hasselbeck each pit future Hall of Famers against opponents that are considerably less.

QUICK KICKS

It didn't take long for bettors to pounce on the Patriots, jacking them up from 111/2-point favourites at the opening bell to 131/2 by yesterday afternoon ... The Giants have won eight in a row on the road. The previous loss (and only one this season) was the 45-35 defeat to the Cowboys in Week 1 ... While some will consider the Giants and Jaguars upset winners last week because their wild-card round scores came on the road, regular-season records suggest otherwise. Jacksonville (11-5) upended the Steelers (10-6) while the dangerous Giants (10-6) handled the Bucs (9-7).


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