There were days in the early '90s when Bill Belichick's media unfriendliness caused some Cleveland reporters to curse Scott Norwood's wayward leg to eternity and beyond.
That's because legend has it that Art Modell never would have hired the 38-year-old whiz-kid Giants defensive coordinator as Browns head coach had Norwood's 47-yard field-goal attempt not gone wide right at the end of Buffalo's 20-19 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XXV.
Knowing Modell, the legend is probably spot on. Norwood nails it and Belichick might have stayed with the Giants at least another year or maybe gone to Tampa Bay, where he was a finalist. And, certainly, his brilliant game plan from that Super Bowl wouldn't be sitting under glass in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 32 years later.
This memory came to mind Tuesday when Super Wild Card Weekend had concluded with the Vikings requesting permission to interview Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Morris hadn't heard a peep from anyone until his defense gave Arizona an electrifying prime-time beatdown.
So, yes, as few as 60 minutes of playoff football can change the course of coaching history. With that in mind, who among the assistant coaches might turn heads or lose favor during this weekend's divisional playoff games?
Let's take a look.
Bengals at Titans
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Ch. 4
This reporter has one of the 50 Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year votes. It went to Tennessee's Mike Vrabel.
The Titans lost their best player, Derrick Henry, for the final nine regular-season games. Injuries forced them to use a record 88 players. And yet they still secured the top seed in the AFC without being carried by an elite quarterback.
Vrabel didn't coach this fundamentally sound and mentally rock-solid team by himself. His coordinators are 41-year-old Eden Prairie native and former Vikings assistant Todd Downing on offense and 35-year-old Shane Bowen on defense.
Vrabel was an unconventional hire in 2018. He was 42 with four years of NFL coaching experience and only one year as a coordinator when the Titans made him a first-year head coach.
Three years later, he passed along similar unexpected opportunities to Downing, the tight ends coach, and Bowen, the outside linebackers coach, when he promoted them. Downing had one failed season as a coordinator in Oakland in 2017. Bowen was an NFL position coach for only three seasons before his promotion.
Both coordinators call plays. The offense ranks fifth in rushing with Henry set to return. The defense is fifth in fewest points allowed. A win Saturday and a trip to the AFC title game could help these way-under-the-radar coordinators.
49ers at Packers
Saturday, 7:15 p.m., Ch. 9
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the first coach interviewed by the Vikings, seems like a great fit in Purple. He's 42, innovative, a bouncing ball of positive energy that players love. He called plays in Jacksonville when the Jaguars came within a quarter of reaching the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles. And he's learned even more in three seasons with Matt LaFleur, the only coach to reach 13 wins in each of his first three seasons.
Hackett is one of the hottest coordinators going right now. But Dallas' Kellen Moore, 33, was almost as hot last week when 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans thoroughly outcoached him in San Francisco's upset at JerryWorld.
Ryans also garnered an interview with the Purple. He's only 37 and last played linebacker in the NFL in 2015. He was a quality control coach in 2016 and a position coach from 2018-20.
Now a first-year coordinator, he's on the rise because of what he did to Dak Prescott a week ago. Imagine how much further his star will shoot if he goes into Lambeau Field and calls a game that takes down Aaron Rodgers, who's about to win MVP for the second straight year and fourth time overall.
Rams at Buccaneers
Sunday, 2 p.m., Ch. 11
Todd Bowles is no longer the former failed head coach of the Jets. His career reputation has been resurrected as defensive coordinator of a Buccaneers team that throttled Patrick Mahomes in a rout of the Chiefs in last year's Super Bowl.
Bowles' credibility will rise even higher if the Bucs dispose of a Rams all-star team that's been assembled with only one acceptable goal: Win next month's Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in L.A.
On the other sideline, Morris has a golden opportunity. He has Aaron Donald, Von Miller and a defense that's primed to pounce on Brady's beat-up offensive line. Make the G.O.A.T. look his age and, well, Morris will be getting more requests to be interviewed.
Bills at Chiefs
Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Ch. 4
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll had eight possessions last week. The Bills scored seven touchdowns and took a knee with backup Mitch Trubisky while walloping Belichick's No. 2-ranked scoring defense 47-17 in Buffalo.
That's basically football perfection.
How in the world could things get any better for Daboll's head coaching candidacy?
Easy. Go into Kansas City, call a game that helps Josh Allen outshoot Mahomes and block the Chiefs from reaching their fourth straight AFC title game.