The Buffalo Bills began play in 1960 as a founding member of the American Football League (AFL), which would later merge with the NFL in 1970. While the Bills struggled to find both wins on the field and a team identity, they went on to win both the 1964 and 1965 AFL Championship over the San Diego Chargers, along with three straight AFL Eastern Division Championships.
This kicked off fifteen years of struggles for the Bills, who made only one playoff appearance between 1967 and 1979, a 32-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1974. They won their first division title as members of the AFC East in 1980, but again lost in the playoffs, this time to the Chargers.
After a few more lean years, the Bills drafted Jim Kelly from the University of Miami in 1983. After refusing to play for the Bills and instead playing for the Houston Gamblers in 1984 and 1985 of the USFL, Kelly reported to the Bills in 1986, where he led the team to what some even state were dynasty years.
Related: Buffalo Bills Uniform History
From 1988 to Kelly’s final NFL season in 1996, the Bills won six AFC East Championships and saw six straight playoff appearances, eight in nine seasons if one counts 1995 and 1996.
The Bills also became the first team in NFL history to make four straight Super Bowls, however, the team lost all four games to NFC East opponents (New York Giants in 1990, Washington Redskins in 1991, and the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993).
Despite this, led by Kelly and fueled by players like Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Steve Tasker, and Bruce Smith, arguably the most memorable moment came on January 3rd, 1993 at Rich Stadium (now known as New Era Field).
Backup quarterback Frank Reich started the game in place of an injured Kelly, leading the Bills to a win in the 1992 Wildcard Playoffs over the Houston Oilers, rallying from a 35-3 third-quarter deficit.
The Bills made two more playoff appearances after Kelly’s retirement in 1998 and 1999. However, the 1999 playoffs wouldn’t just be a revenge date from the Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) in what became known as the Music City Miracle; it would be the team’s final playoff appearance until 2017 in a losing effort to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Related: Buffalo Bills Logo History
The Bills made another playoff appearance in 2019 and garnered their first 10-win season since 1999. However, they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Houston Texans, extending their drought without a playoff victory to 26 seasons.
Buffalo Bills Quick Hits
New Era Field, Orchard Park, New York
Royal blue, red, white
Jim Kelly, Steve Tasker, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas
First team to win Conference Championship four straight seasons.
Main Article: Buffalo Bills Helmet History
Main Article: History of the Buffalo Bills Jersey