What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. The last championship
The final score of the 1965 AFL Championship Game – Bills 23, San Diego Chargers 0 – doesn’t tell the story. For starters, this was the last AFL championship, as the next season would mark the first head-to-head battle between the AFL and NFL, or what would become the Super Bowl. Then there was the point spread: Chargers favored by 7, in large part because they’d pummeled the Bills by 31 earlier in the season. There was what was at stake: back-to-back titles for Buffalo. And finally there is the retrospective aspect to it: to date, this is the last championship won by a professional sports franchise by a team from Buffalo.
4. The blowout
In the Bills’ first season running the no-huddle offense, they cruised through the regular season with a 13-3 record while averaging 26.75 points per game, beat up on the Dolphins in the divisional round, then faced the Los Angeles Raiders for a spot in Super Bowl XXV. Earlier in the season, the Raiders had tested the Bills, carrying a 24-14 lead into the fourth quarter, only to have the Bills rally. So this wasn’t supposed to be a cakewalk for Buffalo. Except that it was. Twenty-one points in the first quarter, another 20 in the second for a 41-3 halftime lead. Not only was the offense humming, the defense hauled in five interceptions, limited Marcus Allen to only 26 yards and allowed only a single field goal in the opening quarter. The win propelled the Bills to their first ever Super Bowl, which … leads to the worst moments in franchise history (see below).
3. O.J. rushes for 2,000 yards
Before O.J. Simpson’s 1973 season, the NFL’s single-season rushing leader was Jim Brown, at 1,863 yards. In fact, prior to ‘73, no other rusher aside from Brown had ever rushed for more than 1,500 yards. So in 1973, 2,000 yards wasn’t even on the radar. Heck, 2,000 yards was still a blip entering the final game of the season, when the Juice was still 60 yards shy of Brown’s record. He got that on a 6-yard run in the first quarter. Then it was on toward 2,000. With just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Simpson barrelled ahead for seven yards, giving him 200 on the day and 2,003 on the season. With that, his teammates lifted him on their shoulders and carried him off the field. There have since been six others who have broken the 2,000-yard barrier, but each needed 16 games to do so. Simpson did it in 14, and with fewer carries than anyone.
2. The arrival of Jim Kelly
In 1983, the Bills drafted Jim Kelly with the 14th overall pick. But before signing with Buffalo, Kelly got an offer from the upstart USFL, which he took, delivering a crushing blow to the Bills. But when the USFL folded following the ‘85 season, Kelly finally joined the Bills. Within two seasons, a team that had back-to-back 2-14 seasons prior to his arrival was winning the AFC East. Kelly had quickly become the face of the franchise, and largely remains so even today. He was a big reason why the Bills made it to a record four consecutive Super Bowls (1990-1993) and won six AFC East titles in eight years. In his 11 seasons, Kelly took the Bills to the playoffs eight times. They’ve qualified for the playoffs just twice since he retired after the ‘96 season at the Bills all-time leader in completions (2,874), attempts (4,779), yards (35,467) and touchdowns (237). In 2002, Kelly became the fourth Buffalo Bill to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1. The Comeback
If the Patriots’ 28-3 Super Bowl LI comeback was impressive, what to make of the Bills rallying from a 35-3 deficit in the 1992 AFC wild card game? Already without Jim Kelly, the Bills trailed the Houston Oilers by 32 early in the third quarter. Soon after, Thurman Thomas exited with a hip injury. But in stepped back-up quarterback Frank Reich, who in a span of seven minutes led the Bills to four touchdowns. By the end of the third quarter, the Bills were within four points. And with just over three minutes to go in the fourth, they took the lead on a Reich touchdown pass to Andre Reed. The Oilers actually needed a field goal with 12 seconds to go to send the game into overtime. There, the Bills picked off Warren Moon, Steve Christie kicked a 32-yard field goal and the Bills completed the biggest comeback in NFL history.