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Bills 2014-2015 Outlook
The Buffalo Bills have a roster full of talented players, but the inability to put it all together has plagued the franchise for years. While many fans are hoping that this is finally the year Buffalo makes the postseason, we’ll have to see it to believe it.
All Buffalo Bills football games can be seen on one of the following television broadcasts depending on the team they are playing: Fox Sports or CBS for Sunday afternoon games; NBC for Sunday Night games; ESPN for Monday Night Football games and the NFL Network for Thursday night games. Tune into WGRF-FM 96.9 or WEDG 103.3 on your FM dial to catch each Buffalo Bills football game on the radio.
Ralph Wilson Stadium
Unlike many other NFL teams, the Buffalo Bills have played in only 2 different stadiums during their existence. Currently, the Buffalo Bills play in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, which has been their home since 1973. Ralph Wilson Stadium holds a capacity of 73,967 rowdy and raucous Buffalo Bills fans. Ralph Wilson Stadium was formerly known as “Rich Stadium” for the first 25 years of its existence. In one of the first instances of a stadium selling naming rights (a practice commonly done for most stadiums today), Rich Products purchased a 25-year license to market the “Rich Stadium” name. When that license expired in 1998, the team named the stadium after its founder and owner Ralph C. Wilson. Next to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Ralph Wilson Stadium is known to be one of the hardest NFL stadiums for NFL kickers. Because of the continually changing high-velocity swirling winds, the “evil” hands of fate usually determine whether a field goal attempt will make it through the uprights. Tailgating is a religion to Buffalo Bills fans in western New York. If you aren’t at Ralph Wilson Stadium at least 3 hours before kickoff to start the tailgate festivities, most diehard Buffalo Bills fans would suggest that you should just stay home. And it isn’t uncommon for many fans to stay outside the stadium during games – clearly there aren’t many better NFL stadiums to throw a party in (or outside of) than Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Buffalo Bills originally played their games at the War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, New York. It was built in 1937 and because of poor efforts to maintain the stadium, the Buffalo Bills moved to Rich Stadium in 1973. Ironically, the makers of the movie “The Natural” loved the run-down desolate look of War Memorial Stadium, and they chose to film all but one of the baseball scenes inside its dilapidated walls.
Ralph Wilson Stadium
1 Bills Dr
Orchard Park, NY 14127
The Buffalo Bills are a professional football team in the National Football League (the NFL). The Buffalo Bills play in the American Football Conference (AFC) East Division with three other teams: the New England Patriots, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. The Buffalo Bills have won 2 AFL Championships. Ralph Wilson Stadium, located in Orchard Park, New York, hosts all Buffalo Bills home games.
In 1960, the Buffalo Bills were one of the charter members of the AFL. The Buffalo Bills dominated AFL play from 1963 through 1966 when they made the post-season for 4 straight years. The Buffalo Bills won back-to-back AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965 behind strong defensive performances. In 1964, the Buffalo Bills finished atop the AFL East with a 12-2 record. In the AFL Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills defeated the San Diego Chargers 20-7 to win the franchise’s first AFL Championship. In 1965, the Buffalo Bills finished atop the AFL East with a 10-3 record. In the AFL Championship Game, the Buffalo Bills once again defeated the San Diego Chargers 23-0 to win the franchise’s 2nd consecutive AFL Championship. In 1966, the Buffalo Bills finished atop the AFL East for the 3rd consecutive year with a 9-4-1 record. In the AFL Championship Game, however, the Buffalo Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-7. The Buffalo Bills suffered through losing seasons in its last three years as a member of the AFL from 1967 through 1969.
In 1970, following the merger of the AFL and NFL, the Buffalo Bills joined the ranks of the NFL and played in the AFC East. From 1970 through 1985, the Buffalo Bills only had 5 winning seasons, only won 1 AFC East title, and only advanced to post-season play 3 different times. In 1980, the Buffalo Bills won the AFC East with an 11-5 record, but the team lost to the San Diego Chargers 20-14 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. In 1981, the Buffalo Bills only finished in 3rd place in the AFC East with a 10-6 record. But the Buffalo Bills recorded the franchise’s first ever NFL playoff win when the Buffalo Bills defeated the New York Jets 31-27 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The next week, the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Buffalo Bills 28-21, denying the Buffalo Bills their first appearance in an AFC Championship Game.
The mediocre play of the Buffalo Bills all changed following the hiring of Head Coach Marv Levy in 1986 and the introduction of legendary Quarterback Jim Kelly as the team’s on-field leader. Although the Buffalo Bills finished with a losing record in Levy’s first year as Head Coach and only managed to reach the .500 mark with an 8-8 record in his 2nd year as Head Coach in 1987, Head Coach Marv Levy was laying the foundation for a team that would dominate play in the NFL for almost a decade. During a 9-year stretch from 1988 through 1996, the Buffalo Bills won 6 AFC East titles, advanced to the playoffs in 8 of 9 seasons, played (and lost in) 4 consecutive Super Bowls and lost in another AFC Championship Game. The Buffalo Bills truly were one of the most dominant teams in the NFL during this stretch. In 1988, the Buffalo Bills won their first AFC East title under Head Coach Levy by finishing the NFL regular season with a 12-4 record. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the Buffalo Bills defeated the Houston Oilers 17-10. But in the AFC Championship Game, the Cincinnati Bengals denied the Buffalo Bills of their first ever Super Bowl appearance with a 21-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Two years later, the Buffalo Bills achieved their ultimate goal by finishing atop the AFC East with a 13-3 record. The Buffalo Bills outscored the Miami Dolphins 44-34 in a shootout in the Divisional round of the playoffs and then dominated the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC Championship Game 51-3 to advance to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. In Super Bowl XXV, however, the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-19 when Kicker Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired at the end of regulation. And while the Buffalo Bills were thrilled to make it to the Super Bowl for the 1st time in history, the loss left a sour taste in the mouths of the team and its loyal fan base. Unfortunately, the bitter taste of defeat would only get tougher to swallow over the course of the next three seasons, as the Buffalo Bills would become the only team in NFL history to advance to 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances, and lose all 4 of those appearances. In 1991, the Buffalo Bills finished atop the AFC East with another dominating 13-3 NFL regular season. And once again, the Buffalo Bills cruised through the playoffs with wins over the Kansas City Chiefs 37-14 in the Divisional round of the playoffs and Denver Broncos 10-7 in the AFC Championship Game. However, the Buffalo Bills could not finish off the playoff run, as the Washington Redskins jumped out to an early 24-0 lead in Super Bowl XXVI and the Buffalo Bills could never recover. The Washington Redskins ultimately defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-24 to win its 3rd Super Bowl Championship, becoming the 4th team to do so along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. In 1992, the Buffalo Bills only finished 2nd in the AFC East with an 11-5 record. The Buffalo Bills used a miraculous overtime victory over the Houston Oilers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs (see below) to catapult the team in dominating fashion through the rest of the AFC playoffs. The Buffalo Bills crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 in the Divisional round of the playoffs and dominated the Miami Dolphins 29-10 in the AFC Championship Game to advance to the team’s 3rd consecutive Super Bowl appearance. And once again, the Buffalo Bills were humiliated in front of a worldwide audience with a 52-17 annihilation at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII. The Buffalo Bills committed a Super Bowl record 9 turnovers and Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Troy Aikman was named the Super Bowl MVP by throwing for 273 yards and 4 touchdown passes. The Buffalo Bills became the first team in NFL History to lose 3 consecutive Super Bowls with the loss. The following season, the Buffalo Bills would become the first team in NFL history to lose 4 consecutive Super Bowls when the team lost to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2nd straight year in Super Bowl XXVIII. This was the first time in NFL history that the same 2 teams faced each other in consecutive Super Bowls. And although the Buffalo Bills jumped out to an early 13-6 halftime lead, everyone in the Georgia Dome was thinking the same thing – Can the Buffalo Bills hold on to win its first ever Super Bowl Championship? The answer was no, as the Dallas Cowboys shutout the Buffalo Bills 24-0 in the 2nd half and eventually won Super Bowl XXVIII 30-13. Dallas Cowboys Running Back Emmitt was named the Super Bowl MVP by rushing for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns. Needless to say, Buffalo Bills fans endured some bittersweet times during that Super Bowl run. While the Buffalo Bills, led by the offensive trio of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, were always powerful enough to make it to the biggest game in NFL football each year, they could never get “over the hump” and bring home a much-coveted Super Bowl Championship to their playoff-weary fans. And while most football fans clearly remember the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl struggles, die-hard fans remember that cold, wintry day in January 1993 when the Buffalo Bills recorded the greatest comeback in NFL history during Wild Card postseason play. Playing without all-stars Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, the Houston Oilers exploded for 4 first half touchdowns en route to a demoralizing 28-3 halftime lead over the Buffalo Bills. Miraculously, backup Quarterback Frank Reich led the team to 5 second half touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills took a last minute 38-35 lead over the Houston Oilers. And while the Houston Oilers tied the game at 35 on a last-second field goal, the Buffalo Bills emerged victorious in overtime, following a Steve Christie field goal that was set up by an errant Warren Moon pass that was intercepted by Bills Defensive Back Nate Odomes. That amazing playoff victory by the Buffalo Bills is now simply known as “The Comeback.”
After Head Coach Marv Levy’s retirement following the 1997 NFL regular season, the Buffalo Bills have endured some tough times. In 1988 and 1989, the Buffalo Bills advanced to post-season play, only to lose in the Wild Card round of the playoffs each season. From 2000 through 2005, the Buffalo Bills finished with a winning record only once, and never made it to the playoffs. During the 2006-7 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills finished with a 7-9 and did not qualify for post-season play. During the 2007-8 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills won only 7 games for the 2nd consecutive season. It marked the 8th consecutive season that the Buffalo Bills did not qualify for post-season play.
Hall of Famers
Despite its short 46 year existence, the Buffalo Bills still have 6 players who were inducted Ito the NFL Hall of Fame. Most notably, Quarterback Jim Kelly was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2002 in his first year of eligibility. As stated above, Jim Kelly quarterbacked the Buffalo Bills for 11 years and he led them to 4 consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1991 through 1994. And although they lost each one, Jim Kelly is still remembered as one of the most dependable and reliable NFL quarterbacks of all time. Jim Kelly’s Head Coach, Marv Levy, was also inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001. Levy was the Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills for 11 years and is currently the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills. The Buffalo Bills first pick in the 1969 NFL draft, O.J. Simpson, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985. O.J. Simpson won college football’s highest award, the Heisman Trophy, he was the first Running Back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season, and he also won numerous NFL MVP awards throughout his career. However, he is most often remembered today for his “Trial of the Century” when he was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. And although O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the criminal murder charges, he was later found liable for their deaths in a civil suit in 1997. Other offensive Buffalo Bills players inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame include: Offensive Guards Billy Shaw (1999) and Joe DeLamielleure (2003). Ironically, the final Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer, James Lofton, is better known for his play with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Raiders. He was an 8-time Pro-Bowler for both teams and played in 3 Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills from 1992 through 1994. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2003.