The Oakland Tribune

DeHaven witnesses third playoff miracle
January 07, 2003
By Roger Phillips STAFF WRITER

SANTA CLARA -- Niners special-teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven is now 2-1 in his experiences in extraordinary playoff moments.

With Buffalo in 1993, DeHaven was on the winning sideline when the Bills rallied from a 35-3 deficit to beat the Houston Oilers.

With the Bills three years ago, DeHaven lost his job after the Tennessee Titans executed a last-second lateral on a kickoff to score a touchdown on the game's final play.

Sunday, DeHaven watched as his field-goal blocking unit went on the field after the 49ers had rallied for a 39-38 lead in a wild-card playoff game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. A poor snap ruined the Giants' bid for a game-winning 41-yard field goal.

DeHaven said that in one respect, Sunday's game topped Buffalo's comeback against the Oilers.

"In Buffalo, we had a veteran team," he said. "This team is a young team. For them to do something like this, to me, is even more meaningful."

And DeHaven said the game provided a little balance for the loss to the Titans. Sunday, the Giants felt they were the victims of a bad call. Monday, DeHaven was still insisting he was the victim of a bad call when the Bills lost to the Titans.

"My sympathy to our opponents that the officials made an error is maybe muted," said DeHaven, who still insists the Titans won three years ago because of a forward lateral.

The bad snap that cost the Giants was by 41-year-old long snapper Trey Junkin, who had been signed the previous week after Dan O'Leary suffered a hand injury. DeHaven said he prepared his players for the possibility that Junkin would struggle, and indeed, the veteran botched two snaps.

"I've seen older snappers come back into the game for one game or so," DeHaven said. "It's a skill that's difficult. ... We talked in our meetings. I said, 'This old guy hasn't been doing it this year. Let's be alert.'"

NEWBERRY READY: Asked about Warren Sapp and the impending trash talking in Sunday's playoff game at Tampa Bay, 49ers center Jeremy Newberry said, "That's the part of it that gets me going, too. I love it when they talk to me. It just gets me more motivated to do my job. I think what he does is in the fun of the game. I've never played against him, but he plays with a lot of emotion and he shows it on the field."

INJURY REPORT: The players get today off, then resume practice Wednesday. Some will practice only on a limited basis, if at all, including receiver Terrell Owens, who played Sunday after missing two games with a sore groin and heel.

Also limited this week will be kicker Jeff Chandler, left tackle Derrick Deese and right guard Ron Stone. All have sprained ankles; all are expected to play against Tampa Bay.

Coach Steve Mariucci added that cornerback Jason Webster, who missed the Giants game, remains questionable. But safety Zack Bronson (foot), defensive end Sean Moran (heel) and cornerback Ahmed Plummer (groin) all are expected to play.

CHANDLER UPDATE: Chandler hurt the ankle on his planting foot during pregame warm-ups. He received an injection, iced the foot, and had it double-wrapped in tape before the game.

"I could barely feel my toes," Chandler said Monday. "The tape cut off my circulation."

He hit a 25-yard field goal against the Giants, but some of his kickoffs were short. Chandler said he expects to rest his leg until Friday.

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