January 1, 1967: Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: November 18th, 2008
January 1, 1967
AFL Championship Game
Kansas City Chiefs 31
Buffalo Bills 7
1966 was an interesting time on pro football history. For the first time, two major leagues merged. The “merger” of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was not a true merger. It was, in fact, dissolution of the AAFC, with three franchises being allowed to join the National Football League (NFL).
The American Football League (AFL) also saw change at the top, as AFL commissioner Joe Foss resigned and was replaced by Oakland Raiders head coach and general manager Al Davis. While this was going on, Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and Dallas Cowboys general Manager Tex Schramm met to discuss rising player salaries, among other issues. On June 8, 1966, the two leagues announced a merger. The leagues would hold a common draft, as well as hold a championship game between the winners of each league.
The 1966 season started off slow for the Bills. Going 3-3-1 in the first half of the season, the team looked as if the magic of the 1964 and 1965 seasons was gone. But, it looked as though there was still some magic left. The second half of the season started with a five-game winning streak and the Bills finished the season 9-4-1 to take the divisional crown over the 8-4-2 Boston Patriots.
The Bills now faced Kansas City in Buffalo’s third-straight AFL Championship game. The results were mixed in Buffalo’s two previous matchups with the Chiefs in the 1966 season. On September 11, the Bills lost 42-20, but won their second meeting 29-14. The Bills amassed an impressive 358 points of offense, while only giving up 255 points. This placed their offense second in the league and their defense first.
With their improvement over the second half of the season, Buffalo had momentum, but so did the Chiefs. Kansas City was on a tear heading into the championship game, not having lost in their last eight games. The stage was set for an excellent game.
Chiefs tight end Fred Arbanas caught a 29-yard toss from Len Dawson to put Kansas City up 7-0. Buffalo came back on a 69-yard pass from Jack Kemp to Elbert Dubenion. It was all Kansas City after that, as the Chiefs racked up four straight scores en route to a 31-7 blowout of the Bills. Kansas City went on to lose 35-10 to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.
The Bills “dynasty” was over. Throughout the remainder of the decade, Buffalo consistently finished in the bottom of the AFL Eastern Division.