ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook wrote a long article on the shotgun offense, which has evolved and been called by different names over the years. The version most familiar to Oilers/Titans fans was known as the run ‘n’ shoot.
According to Easterbrook, the event that ended the run of the run ‘n’ shoot took place on January 3, 1993, a day that will live in infamy for Houston Oilers fans.
Run ‘n’ shoot teams actively disdained the run, saying the future of football was all passing. The armageddon of the run ‘n’ shoot came in the 1992 playoffs, when the Oilers used this strategy to take a 35-3 second-half lead over the Bills, then plummeted to the largest lost lead in NFL annals. From the point at which the Oilers attained the 35-3 edge till they walked off the field with heads hanging, Houston coaches called 22 passes and four rushes — endlessly stopping the clock with incompletions, thus keeping Buffalo alive. After the Oilers’ meltdown on national television, the run ‘n’ shoot fell from vogue and has not been heard from since.
Being reminded of Buffalo’s comeback against Houston still makes me queasy.