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NFL Sunday Outtakes: Joy and misery of the victory formation

By Tim Graham

For nearly a quarter century, the victory formation was an afterthought.

The victory formation is the ultimate dominance play for the offense and a submission moment for the defense. Teams call upon it when they don't need any more plays. Only the dwindling clock separates them from the win.

In Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News, I took an in-depth look at the victory formation in light of the controversy transpired between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants last week.

I looked at where the victory formation came from, its psychological importance, whether teams practice it, how they decide who to use in it and what the etiquette is supposed to be.

The Giants lined up in a victory formation with the game in hand. Buccaneers rookie head coach Greg Schiano ordered his players to aggressively scramble for the ball and knocked the pile back into quarterback Eli Manning.

"I don't really think there's a place for that in the NFL," Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said.

Many others I interviewed agreed with Fitzpatrick. I spoke with Herm Edwards, who made the Miracle at the Meadowlands fumble recovery that made the victory formation an NFL staple, former head coach and Bills linebacker Marty Schottenheimer and several Bills.

"You know they're killing the ball," Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "You just have to eat it."

For the record, the Bills haven't run the victory formation much in recent years.

Under head coach Chan Gailey, the Bills have called it only four times -- three last year (against the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos) and once in 2010 (against the Detroit Lions in Week 10).

Fitzpatrick has run the victory formation six times as a Bills quarterback. In addition to the above, he executed the genuflect offense in 2009 against the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins. Backup quarterback Brian Brohm entered at the two-minute warning and kneeled out the 2009 season against the Indianapolis Colts.

"We always say it's the best play in football," Fitzpatrick said, "because you know if you're in that formation you did something right to win."


NFL Sunday Outtakes
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |