1961 Buffalo Bills Season
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1961 Buffalo Bills Season

1961 Buffalo Bills season
OwnerRalph Wilson
Head coachBuster Ramsey
Home fieldWar Memorial Stadium
Division place4th Eastern
Playoff finishDid not qualify

The 1961 Buffalo Bills season was the team's second year in the American Football League. The Bills played in the Eastern division, winning six games, losing eight, and missing the postseason.

The Bills didn't have a winning record at any point in the season; they played their final five games of the season on the road.

Season summary

The Bills had a problematic quarterback situation, with former Redskin M.C. Reynolds, second-year Bills QB Johnny Green and ex-Lion Warren Rabb all struggling at the passer position. None completed more than 46% of their passes, and only Reynolds had a winning record (2-1) and threw for more than 1,000 yards.[1]

Punter Billy Atkins led the league in punts, with 85; he also led the league with 44.5 yards per punt. Atkins also played safety for the Bills in 1961, and led the league with 10 interceptions, and was 2nd-Team All-AFL on defense.[2]

Middle linebacker Archie Matsos was 1st-Team All-AFL for the second consecutive year, as was defensive tackle Chuck McMurtry. Defensive tackle LaVerne Torczon was 2nd-Team All-AFL in 1961.[3]




Final roster

AFL Draft

The Bills amassed a great deal of talent on their offensive line in the 1961 draft. Four of their first seven picks--Rice, Shaw, Barber and Bemiller, all offensive linemen--would go on to make at least one All-AFL team in the next five years. This draft would form the nucleus for the Bills' power running game over the next five years.

Rice was All-AFL as a rookie in 1961.

Round Player Position College
1 Ken RiceKen Rice[5] Tackle Auburn
2 Billy ShawBilly Shaw[6] Tackle Georgia Tech
3 Art BakerArt Baker Fullback Syracuse (from New York)
3 Tom GilburgTom Gilburg Tackle Syracuse
4 Stew BarberStew Barber [7] Tackle Penn State
5 Norm SneadNorm Snead*[8] Quarterback Wake Forest
6 Fred BrownFred Brown Halfback Georgia
7 Albert BemillerAlbert Bemiller [9] Center Syracuse
8 Charles LinningCharles Linning Tackle Miami
9 William MajorsWilliam Majors Halfback Tennessee
10 Don KernDon Kern Halfback VMI
11 Roy WallRoy Wall Halfback North Carolina
12 Floyd PowersFloyd Powers Guard Mississippi State
13 Tom CauseyTom Causey Offensive end Louisiana Tech
14 Ron KostelnikRon Kostelnik*[10] Tackle Cincinnati
15 Jerry FryeJerry Frye Offensive end South Carolina
16 Vincent ScottVincent Scott Offensive end Maryland
17 Wayne WolffWayne Wolff Tackle Wake Forest
18 John BodkinJohn Bodkin Guard South Carolina
19 Charles BarnesCharley Barnes Offensive end NE Louisiana State
20 Everett CloudEverett Cloud Halfback Maryland
21 Larry VargoLarry Vargo Offensive end Detroit
22 Charles BakerCharles Baker Tackle Tennessee
23 William MackWilliam Mack Halfback Notre Dame
24 Frank JackunasFrank Jackunas Center Detroit
25 Jack HarbaughJack Harbaugh Halfback Bowling Green
26 Lorenzo StanfordLorenzo Stanford Tackle North Carolina A & I
27 Bob AllenBob Allen Offensive end Wake Forest
28 Jason HarnessJason Harness Offensive end Michigan State
29 Mike StockMike Stock Halfback Northwestern
30 William MartinWilliam Martin Halfback Minnesota


AFL Eastern Division
Houston Oilers 10 3 1 .769 4-1-1 513 242 W9
Boston Patriots 9 4 1 .692 2-3-1 413 313 W4
New York Titans 7 7 0 .500 3-3 301 390 L2
Buffalo Bills 6 8 0 .429 2-4 294 342 L1

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Game-by-game results

The 1961 preseason was notable for the Bills as they became the only AFL (or NFL) team to lose to a CFL team, and it was the last game between the CFL and AFL/NFL met in history.[11]


Week Date Opponent Result Stadium Attendance
August 8, 1961 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL) L 38-21 [12] Ivor Wynne Stadium 12,000

Regular season

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance Recap
1 September 10 Denver Broncos L 10-22 0-1 War Memorial Stadium 16,636 Recap
2 September 17 New York Titans W 41-31 1-1 War Memorial Stadium 15,584 Recap
3 September 23 Boston Patriots L 21-23 1-2 War Memorial Stadium 21,504 Recap
4 September 30 San Diego Chargers L 11-19 1-3 War Memorial Stadium 20,742 Recap
5 October 8 at Houston Oilers W 22-12 2-3 Jeppesen Stadium 22,761 Recap
6 October 15 Dallas Texans W 27-24 3-3 War Memorial Stadium 20,678 Recap
7 October 22 at Boston Patriots L 21-52 3-4 Boston University Field 9,398 Recap
8 October 29 Houston Oilers L 16-28 3-5 War Memorial Stadium 21,237 Recap
9 November 5 Oakland Raiders L 22-31 3-6 War Memorial Stadium 17,027 Recap
10 November 12 at Dallas Texans W 30-20 4-6 Cotton Bowl 15,000 Recap
11 November 19 at Denver Broncos W 23-10 5-6 Bears Stadium 7,645 Recap
12 November 23 at New York Titans L 14-21 5-7 Polo Grounds 12,023 Recap
13 December 3 at Oakland Raiders W 26-21 6-7 Candlestick Park 8,011 Recap
14 December 10 at San Diego Chargers L 10-28 6-8 Balboa Stadium 24,486 Recap

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Final roster


  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 Buffalo Bills
  2. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 AFL Leaders and Leaderboards
  3. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 AFL Pro Bowlers
  4. ^ Players are identified as All-AFL if they were selected to the All-AFL at any time in their career.
  5. ^ All-AFL 1961
  6. ^ 8x AFL All-Star
  7. ^ 5x AFL All-Star
  8. ^ 4x NFL Pro Bowler for Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants
  9. ^ 1965 AFL All-Star
  10. ^ Inducted into Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (NFL) in 1989
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 369

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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