1981 Buffalo Bills season

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1981 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Chuck Knox
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Rich Stadium
Results
Record 10–6
Division place 3rd AFC East
Playoff finish Lost Division Round
Timeline
Previous season Next season
< 1980 1982 >

The 1981 Buffalo Bills season was the 22nd season for the club and its 12th in the National Football League.

The season's most memorable moment might have been a Hail Mary catch against the New England Patriots in Week Twelve.[1] The 36-yard touchdown pass from Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson to running back Roland Hooks as time expired won the game for Buffalo, 20–17.[2] The win proved to be crucial in giving Buffalo the final playoff spot in the AFC in 1981.[3]

Offseason[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

Main article: 1981 NFL Draft

Running back Robb Riddick played eight seasons for the Bills; he started eight games and ran for 632 total yards in 1986, and he became a short-yardage specialist in 1988

Round Pick # Player Position College
1 28 Booker Moore Running back Penn State
2 49 Chris Williams Defensive back LSU
2 49 Byron Franklin Wide receiver Auburn
3 76 Mike Mosley Wide receiver Texas A&M
3 84 Robert Geathers Defensive tackle South Carolina State
5 135 Calvin Clark Defensive end Purdue
6 161 Robert Holt Wide receiver Baylor
7 188 Steve Doolittle Linebacker Colorado
9 241 Robb Riddick Running back Millersville (PA)
10 272 Justin Cross Offensive tackle Western Colorado
11 299 Buster Barnett Tight end Jackson State
12 326 Keith Clark Linebacker Memphis State

Regular season[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1981 New York Jets W 31–0
79,754
2 September 13, 1981 at Baltimore Colts W 35–3
44,950
3 September 17, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles L 20–14
78,331
4 September 27, 1981 at Cincinnati Bengals L 27–24
46,418
5 October 4, 1981 Baltimore Colts W 23–17
77,811
6 October 12, 1981 Miami Dolphins W 31–21
78,576
7 October 18, 1981 at New York Jets L 33–14
54,607
8 October 25, 1981 Denver Broncos W 9–7
77,757
9 November 1, 1981 Cleveland Browns W 22–13
78,266
10 November 9, 1981 at Dallas Cowboys L 27–14
62,583
11 November 15, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals L 24–0
46,214
12 November 22, 1981 New England Patrios W 20–17
71,593
13 November 29, 1981 Washington Redskins W 21–14
59,624
14 December 6, 1981 San Diego Chargers W 28–27
51,488
15 December 13, 1981 at New England Patriots W 19–10
42,549
16 December 19, 1981 at Miami Dolphins L 16–6
72,596

Standings[edit]

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA
Miami Dolphins(2) 11 4 1 .719 5–2–1 8–3–1 345 275
New York Jets(4) 10 5 1 .656 6–1–1 8–5–1 355 287
Buffalo Bills(5) 10 6 0 .625 6–2 9–3 311 276
Baltimore Colts 2 14 0 .125 2–6 2–10 259 533
New England Patriots 2 14 0 .125 0–8 2–10 322 370

Roster[edit]

Playoffs[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wildcard December 27, 1981 at New York Jets W 31–27
57,050
Divisional January 3, 1982 at Cincinnati Bengals L 28–21
55,420

AFC Wild Card[edit]

Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27
1 2 3 4 Total
Bills 17 7 0 7 31
Jets 0 10 3 14 27

at Shea Stadium, Flushing, Queens, New York

The Bills traveled to Shea Stadium, where the Jets were playing in their first playoff game since the 1970 merger. In a cold rain the Jets got off to a poor start as Bruce Harper fumbled the opening kickoff at his 25 and Charles Romes ran back the fumble for a touchdown. The Bills raced to a 24–0 lead in the second quarter as Frank Lewis caught two Joe Ferguson passes for touchdowns; the first was a pass from the Bills 40 yard line caught by Lewis at the Jets 32 and run in, then Joe Cribbs caught a 50-yarder, setting up Lewis' second catch; later Rufus Bess picked off Richard Todd and ran back 49 yards, setting up a field goal. But in the second the Jets began clawing back as Mickey Shuler caught a 30-yard touchdown in traffic (it was Shuler's first catch of the entire 1981 season) from Todd and following a Greg Buttle interception of Ferguson Pat Leahy booted a 26-yard field goal. A 19-yarder from Leahy was the only score in the third, then early in the fourth Ferguson was picked off by Donald Dykes, but Todd was intercepted by Bill Simpson. Following the Simpson pick Ferguson was intercepted again, by Jerry Holmes, but the Bills defense forced a mediocre punt by Chuck Ramsey caught at the 50. Three plays later Joe Cribbs caught a toss-sweep and ran in a 45-yard touchdown for Buffalo. But the Jets refused to give in; Todd tossed a 30-yard score to Bobby Jones and later Kevin Long ran in a 1-yard score. The Jets got the ball back in the final minutes, but a sack by Fred Smerlas led to a last-ditch Todd drive to the endzone; after completions to Gaffney and Scott Dierking Todd fired from the Bills 11 for the endzone but was picked off by Bill Simpson, ending a 31–27 Bills playoff win, only the third in the team's history and first since winning back-to-back AFL titles in the 1964 and '65 seasons.

Awards and honors[edit]

All-Pros[edit]

First Team

Second Team

References[edit]

  1. ^ NFL.com: Hooks' Hail Mary catch video
  2. ^ Buffalo Rumblings: Best Moments in Bills History, No. 21: Roland Hooks' Hail Mary Catch
  3. ^ Had the Bills lost the game, the last wild card spot would have gone to 10–6 Denver, whom the Bills beat out for the spot by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker.