The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 gets inducted on Saturday. Shutdown Corner will profile the seven new Hall of Famers this week, looking at each of their careers and their impact on the game.
Buffalo Bills, 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
The 1993 season was not Reed's best by any means — he had 11 seasons in the NFL with more catches, eight seasons with more receiving yards and five more years with more touchdowns. But Reed's playoff performance in the Bills' wild-card victory over the Houston Oilers was one of the best in one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history.
The Oilers led 35-3 in the third quarter and looked to be doomed with quarterback Jim Kelly hurt and backup Frank Reich taking his place. But after the Bills cut the lead to 35-17, Reed started to take over. He caught touchdown passes of 26 and 18 yards in the third quarter and a 17-yard score in the fourth to give the Bills the lead in a game they eventually would win in overtime.
The three receiving touchdowns are tied for the most in NFL playoff history, and Reed finished the game with eight receptions for 136 yards, the second-highest playoff yardage total he put up in his 21 postseason games. The highest total would come four weeks after the dramatic Oilers comeback, but it would come in a losing effort in Super Bowl XXVII — the third of four straight Bills losses in the championship game.
Impact on the game
At the time of his retirement after the 2000 season, Reed ranked third all time in receptions with 951 and his 13 seasons with 50 or more catches is tied for second most in NFL history, behind only Jerry Rice. Reed now ranks 11th in receptions all time (with the 10 men ranked ahead of him all retiring after him) and 13th in receiving yards with 13,198.
Despite the four straight Super Bowl losses, Reed also ranks second all time with 27 Super Bowl receptions and third with 323 receiving yards in those four games. Reed caught 85 postseason passes in his career, third-most all time, and his five 100-yard playoff games are tied for third.
The seven-time Pro Bowler Reed was the deep element in the Bills' prolific K-Gun offense for years, and he and Kelly were the most prolific quarterback-receiver duo with 663 career completions until 2004 when it was surpassed by the Indianapolis Colts' duo of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
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Case against his bust in Canton
As Frank Schwab pointed out in the video above, Reed had only four 1,000-yard seasons, which is fewer than such receivers as Keenan McCardell, Joey Galloway and Amani Toomer. Reed also had only one season with 10 touchdowns and had seven seasons where he did not reach the 800-yard mark, which even in his era ranks a bit low.
You could make the case that Reed never would have made it to Canton had he played for, say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back then. The fact that the Bills were the cream of the AFC crop for such a long period of time, winning double-digit games and making the postseason in nine of 12 seasons from 1988 to 1999, Reed's final season in Buffalo, certainly raised Reed's profile.
Case for his bust in Canton
Of course, Reed was a big reason the Bills won a lot of games. His playmaking ability helped make the Bills' offense go, and he played at a high level for a very long time and helped revolutionize the game with what was an ahead-of-its-time passing game.
Reed was something of a new breed of receiver, the long, sleek and fast deep threat that is commonplace in the game today but was far more rare a generation ago. In the Bills' offense, he not only ran down the field, but he also was able to take a short slant and go the distance and also was able to patrol in the middle of the field and do major yards-after-the-catch damage in space.
As a Hall of Fame finalist ever year from 2007 until his induction this past February, there clearly was a lot of debate about Reed's credentials, but the committee did not elect many wide receivers prior to the past few seasons. Once Michael Irvin and Cris Carter gained induction, their contemporaries such as Reed got their proper due.
"He was really good at running the short route and turning it into a long gain. Jim [Kelly] loved it because it was an easy throw for a lot of yards. We all loved it because he could turn a nothing five-yard completion into a 65-yard touchdown. That's what Andre's gift was." — Bills teammate Steve Tasker, via Pro Football Hall of Fame
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