It was the slimmest margin ever to determine the Bills fan winner for Home Team Challenge for the 2010 season. When all was said and done at the close of Week 17, Michael Harris of Niagara Falls, Ontario was the Buffalo Bills grand prize winner.
"It was very nerve racking at the end. It was tremendously close," said Harris. "I was behind by about 25 points going into the last weekend, which is the difference that one good starter can make. In the end I squeaked it out by a single point."
Home Team Challenge is a free NFL.com fantasy football game where participants choose an eight-player position specific lineup each week, consisting of one quarterback, two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a team defense.
"The key for me was the Dallas tight end catching a touchdown with 1:59 left in a four o'clock game," said Harris.
Jason Witten's four-yard touchdown catch against the Eagles proved to be the clincher for Harris, just when he thought all was lost.
"As that game wound down I was thinking to myself, 'Oh well I gave it a good go.' I was following the live scoring updates online and was resigned to finishing second or third," he said. "Then he caught the touchdown pass and I knew that would put me ahead."
Finishing first among Bills fans with 1,951 points Harris won himself a pair of lower level sideline seats for the 2011 season, a Bills-Bud Light tailgating set including a canopy tent, blanket, grill, cooler and other items and a Bills football autographed by Fred Jackson. It's a prize package worth over $1,500.
"I was pretty excited because I've never won a prize of this magnitude before," said Harris. "I was telling all the people I work with that I was close and had a chance to get the Bills season ticket package and even win a trip to the Super Bowl. So when I returned to work that Monday they were all asking me how I did, and I was pretty elated to tell them I won two Bills season tickets and a great tailgating kit that will be a help next season."
Harris was in the running for the NFL grand prize, which is a pair of tickets and an all expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl, but he came up just short.
"I finished third overall and missed the Super Bowl tickets by 25 points," he said. "I finished third out of 30 thousand people. It was the morning of the final game and I was torn about who to start. On the game they reveal what percentage of people are playing each player. Knowing I had to make up ground I tried to play players that not a lot of people were starting in the hopes that my player would outperform them."
But Harris is more than happy to have Bills season tickets, being a season ticket holder already.
"I've got a variety of friends that will be rotating through," said Harris as to who would be sitting next to him for the 2011 Bills home schedule. "We already have three season tickets and so I'll be using the tickets I won with a rotating friend and the rest of our group will use the other three we already have for some friends that haven't had a chance to go to a Bills game before."
Bills fans on the whole did very well with Harris finishing third overall and two other Bills fans right behind him finishing fourth and fifth. More than 3,100 Bills fans signed up for Home Team Challenge, more than any other NFL club.
It was only Harris' second year playing Home Team Challenge.
"I began playing last year, but I signed up a week late, so I had a good season, but never got close to the top," Harris said. "This year I made sure to sign up for the first week and it was pretty successful."
Now Harris has his eyes on the ultimate prize next season, Super Bowl tickets.
"That would be fantastic," said Harris. "I am a huge sports fan and getting to the Super Bowl would be one of the things I'd be able to cross off my bucket list. I've been to a Grey Cup. I've been to a World Series and a British Open, but the Super Bowl is kind of the ultimate ticket."