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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Great games

The professional and college sports teams I root for haven't won many championships (a grand total of two, to be exact), but they certainly have given me some thrilling postseason games. And the list grew by one this week.

Here's a rundown:

• January 1991: The Buffalo Bills — who I've followed since my childhood — played in one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever but came up just short, losing 20-19 to the New York Giants after Scott Norwood's infamous "wide right" 48-yard field goal attempt with 8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

• January 1993: Another Bills classic. Down 35-3 in the the third quarter of an AFC wildcard game against the Houston Oilers, the Bills, piloted by backup quarterback Frank Reich, scored 35 unanswered points to take the lead before finally giving up a game-tying field goal near the end of the regulation. But they went on to win on a Steve Christie field goal in overtime.

• April 1994: My beloved Buffalo Sabres played the New Jersey Devils to a scoreless tie in regulation of Game 6 in the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The game remained scoreless through three 20-minute overtimes — no surprise given that two of the league's best goalies, Buffalo's Dominik Hasek and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, were minding the nets at the opposite ends of the ice — before Buffalo's Dave Hannan finally went top shelf on Brodeur for the game-winning goal in the fourth overtime ... at about 2:50 a.m. The Sabres lost Game 7 of that series, bringing their season to an end, but that long night's journey into the next morning will always stand out in my mind.

• October 2002: The Anaheim Angels — down 3-2 in the World Series to the San Francisco Giants and losing 5-0 with one out in the seventh inning of Game 6 — scored three runs in the seventh and another three in the eighth to force Game 7, which they won, 4-1, to secure their first championship.

• April 2003: The Syracuse Orange stormed out to an 18-point lead in the NCAA basketball championship game against Kansas only to have to hold on for dear life down the stretch to secure a three-point win and the school's first national title.

And finally ...

• March 12 (and 13), 2009: Syracuse blew a late seven-point lead over the University of Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the Big East basketball tournament and went to overtime against the Huskies. Then a second overtime. Then a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. And a sixth, before finally pulling away for a 127-117 victory in a game that ended at 1:22 a.m. Truly a game for the ages (unless you're a UConn fan).

I can't wait to see what happens next!



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