Re-live special games in Buffalo football history.
Now, you may be wondering why I am covering the Dayton Triangles the week that the Bills are playing the Indianapolis Colts. You can make a connection between today’s Colts and the Dayton Triangles of 1921. Seriously. What, you don’t believe me? Get ready to take a long journey, back to 1913 and the Dayton Cadets.
The Cleveland Browns had been a thorn in the side of the Bills since the formation of the All-America Football Conference. Buffalo just could not find a way to win against the powerhouse Browns in their seven previous meetings. As the elite team of the league, the Browns were the targets of every team, but were still able to put up an impressive undefeated streak that started more than a year prior.
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.
The 1926 season was a turning point for professional football in Buffalo. Queen City mainstay Tommy Hughitt and 1925 coach Walt Koppisch were distant memories, but the pain of a 1-6-2 season still lingered in the minds of the local fans. Jim Kendrick was brought in to replace Koppisch and brought a radical idea with him. Instead of supplying the team with local talent, Kendrick decided to stock his club with players strictly from Texas and southwestern United States locations. The newly renamed Buffalo Rangers – or sometimes referred to as the “Texas” Rangers – had a lot of work to do.
The Bills were 2-1 heading into their game with the 1-2 New England Patriots. The Bills had a slim one-game lead in the division over the Patriots, New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. Emotions were high after their 47-41 overtime victory over the Houston Oilers the previous week, giving the Bills their first victory in the Astrodome since 1966. Jim Kelly had a superb day, passing for 363 yards and five touchdowns, but the Bills’ defense had struggled. However, that was not the case against the Patriots.
The Bills were looking to repeat as AFL Champions in 1965. The Patriots were on the heels of the Bills throughout the 1964 season, but 1965 was a different story. Coming off their only win of the 1965 season to date, the Patriots had a lot of ground to make up to catch the division leading 6-2 Bills.
The Bills finished the 1991 season 13-3 and in first place in the conference. The Broncos were not far behind with a 12-4 record. In a tough contest, the Broncos earned their way to the AFC Championship game by beating the Houston Oilers 26-24. The Bills had an easier time by winning 37-14 over the Kansas City Chiefs. Another win by Buffalo and the Bills would attempt to avenge their Super Bowl loss from the previous year.
On September 29, 1968, the Buffalo Bills took on the New York Jets. The Bills had yet to win a game at that point, while the Jets were undefeated.
Since the Bills are playing a neutral site game, it is time to focus on a non-Buffalo team: the Rochester Jeffersons.
The Buffalo Bills were coming off their second straight Super Bowl defeat when they started their 1992 season. Both Buffalo and San Francisco were 1-0 after the first week. The immortal Joe Montana was no longer the quarterback, but future Hall of Famer Steve Young had taken over the team was successful. With Jim Kelly and Steve Young battling it out, the fans knew that they were in for a shootout. They were not disappointed.
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).
Sixty years ago, the Cleveland Browns accomplished something that only one other professional football team in history was able to accomplish. They had a perfect season. The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only ones to get credit for this accomplishment, but the Browns attained this goal first. Lost in the Cleveland Browns achievement is another notable accomplishment. For the first time in the city’s history, a professional football team from Buffalo was participating in a major league professional football championship game.
The Bills were 0-2 (they lost 27-3 to the New York Titans and lost 27-21 to the Denver Broncos) heading into the game, while Boston was 1-1 (they lost 13-10 to the Denver Broncos and won 28-24 over the New York Titans). The pressure was on for the Bills to pick up their first victory in order to keep pace with the rest of the division.
Let’s take some time to focus on the New York Titans, who became the New York Jets in 1963. Buffalo lost both games to the Titans in 1960 and had a dismal 5-8-1 record for the season. The 1961 campaign started in the same fashion, with Buffalo dropping a home game to the Denver Broncos 22-10.
Since this is Miami week, I thought I would take time to talk about the Miami Seahawks of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Several leagues tried to compete against the NFL at that time, but only the AAFC was able to field teams. Made up of eight cities (New York, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Miami in the East Division and Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago in the West Division), the AAFC immediately made an impact on professional football. I am going to discuss the first game played between the Miami Seahawks and the Buffalo Bisons in 1946.
The San Diego Chargers were a seven-point favorite to win the game, but most experts believed that they would win by a larger margin. How could you not think that the Chargers would win easily? They were ranked first in passing offense, first in rushing offense, first in passing defense, and first in running defense. The Buffalo Bills were second in rushing defense, but seventh in total offense. San Diego coach Sid Gillman was so confident of his victory, he told a Buffalo News reporter “You know, there is no way we can lose this game on Sunday…We’re going to win this game because Kemp has the maturity of a 10-year-old girl.”
I thought I would take this bye week to expand our discussions to Central New York and the Syracuse Athletic Association (S.A.A.). Formed in 1890 under the name Syracuse Amateur Athletic Club – changing their name to the S.A.A. in 1892 – the S.A.A. was an outlet for athletes not participating in the college game. Before we delve too deeply into the S.A.A., it would be beneficial to discuss the history of athletic clubs and the rise of football in Central New York.
In 1920, Buffalo had a team called the All-Americans. Even thought this team is included in official league standings, there is no record of them officially being a member of the APFA (prior to 1922, the NFL was called the American Professional Football Association). It was not until 1921 before Buffalo became an official franchise. In 1920 and 1921, Buffalo battled for the league championship, only to come in second to the Akron Pros and Chicago Staleys – now called the Chicago Bears – respectively.
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