It was reunion week for Minnesota quarterback Warren Moon and Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche, but the prospect of squaring off against their former teams in regular-season games for the first time rekindled bad memories.
Asked in the week of the game to reveal his feelings about playing against Houston, the team he guided for 10 seasons, Moon said, "The less I say about that, the better." One reason could be that one of the league's alltime leading passers remains touchy about the criticism that he never took the Oilers past the second round of the playoffs in seven postseason trips.
Does Moon deserve the can't-win-the-big-one tag? Perhaps, but it's also true Houston might not have made those seven trips without him. In 1994, after the Oilers traded Moon to the Vikings, Minnesota went 10-6 and won the NFC Central, while Houston dipped to an NFL-worst 2-14. On Sunday, Moon held the upper hand, throwing for two touchdowns as the Vikings escaped with a 23-17 overtime victory.
"I tried to keep it low-key the whole week, but the emotions really came out when I saw the Houston uniforms," Moon said afterward. "It's a win for us, and it's bragging rights for me when I go home. I don't have bad feelings about anybody. I had to move on, and I did. This is two years down the road."
While Moon was facing the Oilers for the first time, Wyche had coached the Buccaneers to preseason victories over the Bengals in each of the last two years. That took some of the edge off Sunday's contest, but Wyche no doubt was taking special satisfaction in a 19-16 win that propelled the Bucs into first place in the NFC Central.
Wyche says he will never forget how abruptly his association with the Bengals ended—on Christmas Eve in 1991 after a franchise-worst 3-13 season that has been matched twice since. To this day Wyche and Bengal general manager Mike Brown disagree about how Wyche left. Wyche says he was fired; Brown says Wyche resigned.
Tampa Bay hired Wyche in the hope he could take the Bucs to the Super Bowl, as he had done with the Bengals in 1988. That was the year Cincinnati started 6-0, finished 12-4 and lost to the 49ers in the final minute of Super Bowl XXIII.
"I didn't have fun that year," Wyche said last week. "I wasn't going to allow any detail to escape us. I couldn't sleep. I never enjoyed the wins. I was probably miserable all around. Even the Super Bowl. I enjoy thinking about it now, but I didn't enjoy it then."
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