September 21, 1980: Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: September 23rd, 2009
The Bills won their first two games of the 1980 season (17-7 over the Dolphins and 20-10 over the Jets). The Saints were not so lucky, as they were 0-2 heading into their match-up with Buffalo. That would mean that the Bills would be favored in this contest, right? That was not the case. Fred Smerlas recalled, “We come in here 2-0, with the third-best defense in the league. They’re 0-2, and they’re favored. Figure that out…We’re pissed about people not noticing us.”
That seemed to be the motivation that Buffalo needed, as they started the game with a 62-yard scoring drive, capped by a 12-yard pass from Joe Ferguson to Frank Lewis. The Saints came back to score off of a Ferguson interception. After a Joe Cribbs 12-yard touchdown, New Orleans racked up three consecutive scores to take a 19-14 lead going into halftime.
The Bills were struggling and the Saints had the momentum going into the third quarter. It would be short-lived as Ferguson hit Lewis for an 18-yard strike and the lead. Buffalo scored two consecutive scores to increase their lead to 35-19. New Orleans scored late in the game, but Buffalo held on to the 35-26 victory to improve to 3-0 on the season.
According to Bills coach Chuck Knox, “The thing about this game was we were down 19-14 and things didn’t look good. But we came back to win and that shows you something.”
The Bills finished the season winning the AFC East with a record of 11-5. They lost to the San Diego Chargers 20-14 in the divisional round of the playoffs. New Orleans went 1-15.