Buffalo Bills Stats


Buffalo Bills

2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS

Buffalo Bills

A charter member of the AFL, the Bills began playing in the upstart league in 1960. Owner Ralph Wilson was integral in bringing pro football to Buffalo, and then keeping the AFL afloat in later years. But he actually wasn’t the first choice of the creator of the AFL, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. 

Buffalo liquor store owner Pat McGroder was first approached about becoming an AFL owner, but he said no, hoping that he could one day own an NFL team. Wilson, who was a part owner of the Lions at the time, was then asked about AFL ownership, and enthusiastically said yes.

Wilson ended up basing the team in Buffalo because the captain of the ship where he served in World War II was from Buffalo. Both the captain, George E. Schaaf, and McGroder, became team executives, and eventually helped Wilson get a stadium lease and a fan base.

The Bills, named for a previous All-American Football Conference team that played in Buffalo in the 1940s, won two AFL championships before the AFL-NFL merger of 1970. The Bills played in a third AFL title game in 1966, where the winner was to go on and play in what would become the first Super Bowl. But that game was won by Hunt’s Kansas City Chiefs.

Championship Won by the Buffalo Bills

As one of the best teams in the AFL, the Bills were the only team to win consecutive AFL championships.

1964 AFL Championship Game

The Bills beat the San Diego Chargers two times earlier in the season, and they made it three straight wins with the 20-7 victory. Cookie Gilchrist was the star for Buffalo, rushing for 122 yards on 16 carries.

1965 AFL Championship Game

A rematch with the Chargers, but this time in San Diego’s Balboa Stadium, the Bills dominated their way to back-to-back AFL titles. The final score was 23-0, with quarterback Jack Kemp, the league’s most valuable player, winning the game’s MVP award.

The Bills have fielded a number of really good teams since 1965, and have five times since 1965 played for a championship (1966, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993). But 1965 was the last time that any professional sports team from Buffalo won the title.

Key Stats by the Buffalo Bills

The Bills and Ralph Wilson played a huge role in making the AFL a viable alternative to the NFL, which directly led to the merger in 1970 and the massively popular game we all enjoy today.

The Bills are the only back-to-back winner of the AFL. They also hold the distinction of being the only franchise in NFL history to play in four consecutive Super Bowls. The Miami Dolphins played in three straight Super Bowls (1971-1973), as did the New England Patriots (2016-2018). Only the Bills went to four straight.

The Bills were also the first team to ever produce a 2,000-yard rusher. O.J. Simpson ran for 2,003 yards in 1973, and was the only player to do it before the NFL expanded the season to 16 games. Simpson played in 14 games, averaging 143.1 yards a game. Eric Dickerson averaged 131.6 ypg when he ran for 2,105 yards in 1984.

The Bills currently play in the fourth oldest stadium in the NFL, behind Soldier Field in Chicago, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. It’s worth noting, however, that the inside of Soldier Field was completely rebuilt in 2003 and only the historic exterior remains.

Top Players in Buffalo Bills History

The Bills have been blessed with a number of great players in their history. O.J. Simpson was the first of their great running backs, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. The all-time franchise rushing leader is Thurman Thomas, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2007.

The winner of their two AFL Championships was quarterback Jack Kemp, later to become Congressman Kemp, HUD Secretary Kemp, and Vice Presidential Candidate Kemp. The best quarterback in franchise history, however, is Jim Kelly. His 35,467 yards and 237 touchdown passes are records that won’t fall for many years.

Kelly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, and he has since been joined by teammates Thurman Thomas, James Lofton, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith. Altogether there are nine players in the Hall of Fame that spent time in Buffalo, and the very best of them might be Smith.

Smith went to 11 Pro Bowls, was a first team All-Pro in eight seasons, and finished his career with 200 sacks. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, that is the most recorded by any player in NFL history.

Top Coaches in Buffalo Bills History

The Bills have enjoyed three long stretches of success, and it’s no surprise that each of those periods in the franchise are defined by the coach that was in charge.

The last name Saban is more known in coaching circles because of Nick Saban of Alabama fame. But Nick’s said-to-be-distant cousin Lou Saban was a successful coach long before anyone had heard of Nick. Lou was the original coach of the Bills in the 1960s, and along with those two AFL Championships he won, he was also named the AFL Coach of the Year in both seasons.

Chuck Knox was the next of the Buffalo coaches to be successful. Coming off five total wins in 1976 and ‘77, the Bills hired former Rams coach Chuck Knox, who left L.A. after a dispute with the owner. He took Buffalo to consecutive playoff appearances in 1980 and ‘81 – the first back-to-back postseasons in Buffalo since 1966.

The last and best of the big three coaches is Marv Levy, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2001. Along with coaching the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls, he won six division titles with the Bills and finished his NFL career with 143 regular season wins. His 11 postseason wins ties him for 10th all-time. He also won two Grey Cups while coaching for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in the 1970s.

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