by Scott Kindberg
January 3, 1993
Corey’s Halftime Tirade Got Defense’s Attention
ORCHARD PARK — Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator Walt Corey gave a halftime lecture Sunday afternoon that gave new meaning to the phrase “locker room talk.’’
He screamed at us,’’ linebacker Shane Conlan said. “I’ve never seen him like that.’’
But judging by the way the Buffalo defense played in the first 30 minutes of the AFC wild-card game at Rich Stadium, Corey had every right to be furious.
“We had to get something straight,’’ the normally mild-mannered Corey said. “I didn’t spare anybody — the defensive linemen, linebackers or defensive backs. I hit them right between the eyes.”
To that point, the Bills trailed the Houston Oilers 28-3 and quarterback Warren Moon was having a field day. By intermission, he had completed 19 of 22 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns against Buffalo’s defensive alignment that included six defensive backs.
“We had a scheme where we were sending a defensive back (on a blitz),’’ Corey explained. “He would go, but he wasn’t making an impression. I really felt the scheme was good, but you have to make an impression. There was no impression.
Head coach Marv Levy had an impression, however.
“One thing I said at halftime to all of our coaches was, “We’re going to go after them in terms of defense,’’’ he said. “We felt we had to take chances, even if they blew us away, 56-0.
The deficit grew to 35-3 before the Bills had a chance to try their normal three-lineman, four-linebacker set.
“When we went to the regular defense, now it’s (linebackers) Darryl Talley and Marvcus Patton (blitzing),’’ Corey said. “The size of those people, and because they’ve done it many, many times blitzing from the outside, they had a little bit more meaning when they had contact with blockers.
“I told them if we're going to get beat, we’re going to get beat the old-fashioned way.
The defensive switch worked.
It was that adjustment that stymied the Oilers’ offense and allowed the Bills’ offense to mount a history-making, 41-38, overtime victory.
“When (the offense) started coming back it made us more of a believer,’’ Buffalo nose tackle Jeff Wright said. “If they can do it, we can do it. That’s what team unity is all about.’’
Led by the inspired play of left end Phil Hansen, who had 10 tackles and one sack, the Bills’ defense limited the Oilers to 145 yards and a field goal in the second half. Strong safety Henry Jones intercepted a pass that led to a touchdown and cornerback Nate Odomes picked one off that resulted in Steve Christie’s game-winning, 32-yard field goal.
“The first half was probably the worst defensive game the Bills have ever played since I’ve been here,’’ said Conlan, who had three solo tackles and one assist. “Walt ripped us and we went out and played hard.’’
They’ll be in Pittsburgh on Saturday as a result.