1986 Buffalo Bills Season
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1986 Buffalo Bills Season

1986 Buffalo Bills season
Head coachHank Bullough
Marv Levy
General managerBill Polian
OwnerRalph Wilson
Home fieldRich Stadium
Results
Record4-12
Division place4th AFC East
Playoff finishdid not qualify

The 1986 Buffalo Bills season was the 27th season for the club and its 17th in the National Football League (NFL).

Although the Bills were only 2-6 at the midway point of the season, their games were much more competitive than in years past. (Only two of their losses in the first eight games were by more than a touchdown.) Still, after a 6-point Week Nine loss to Tampa Bay, the Bills fired coach Hank Bullough, and hired former Kansas City coach Marv Levy from outside the organization, an unusual mid-season tactic. (Levy had been out of coaching since being the head man with the USFL's Chicago Blitz in 1984.) Levy would win his first game with the Bills against Pittsburgh in Week Ten, and one more game against Kansas City in Week Thirteen, finishing with a 2-5 record in his first half-season as head coach.[1]

Years later, Bills offensive tackle Will Wolford alleged that the team purposely lost the week 9 game to Tampa Bay in order to get Bullough fired.[2]

Offseason

At the end of the 1985 season, the Bills' future was in serious jeopardy; two consecutive seasons in which the team had finished 2-14 had driven attendance at Rich Stadium to less than 30,000 fans per game. 1985 first overall draft pick Bruce Smith, while he had a respectable rookie season, underperformed compared to expectations and was admittedly not putting his whole heart into the game of football. Quarterback Jim Kelly, whom the team had drafted in the first round of the 1983 draft as their franchise quarterback of the future, still refused to play in Buffalo and was prepared to play the 1986 season as a member of the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League; the Generals' soon-to-be-displaced quarterback, Doug Flutie, who would become a Bill much later in his career, also rejected the team's overtures and stayed in the USFL.[3] These rejections forced the Bills to sign Art Schlichter, a notorious compulsive gambler who had flamed out with the Indianapolis Colts, as their backup plan; Schlichter was to compete with Frank Reich, whom the Bills drafted the previous year, for the starting position.

Buffalo's fortunes underwent a drastic improvement before the season. On July 29, 1986, the USFL received only a nominal judgment in its antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, leaving the league without much-needed capital and forcing the end of its operations. With no other options, Kelly then signed with the Bills amid much fanfare, and Schlichter was released. The signing (along with those of fellow USFL refugees Ray Bentley and Kent Hull) doubled the team's home attendance.[4]

NFL draft

University of Iowa running back Ronnie Harmon played for the Bills for four seasons.[5]Vanderbilt's Will Wolford played offensive tackle for the Bills for seven years, and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and 1992.[6] Linebacker Mark Pike played his entire 13-year career with the Bills, mostly as a special teams star; he is the NFL's all-time leader in tackles on special teams, with 283. Tight end Butch Rolle played for the Bills for 6 years, and at one point had a streak of ten consecutive receptions for touchdowns.

1986 Buffalo Bills draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 16 Ronnie Harmon *  RB Iowa
1 20 Will Wolford *  OT Vanderbilt
3 77 Leonard Burton  C South Carolina
5 111 Carl Byrum  RB Mississippi Valley State
7 168 Bob Williams  TE Penn State
7 178 Mark Pike  LB Georgia Tech
7 180 Butch Rolle  TE Michigan State
8 202 Tony Furjanic  LB Notre Dame
9 222 Reggie Bynum  WR Oregon State
10 251 Guy Tefatiller  DT Illinois
11 278 Tony Garbarczyk  DT Wake Forest
11 282 Billy Witt  DE North Alabama
12 313 Brian McClure  QB Bowling Green
12 331 Derek Christian  LB West Virginia
      Made roster    +   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Personnel

Staff

[7]

Roster

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 7, 1986 New York Jets L 28-24
79,951
2 September 14, 1986 at Cincinnati Bengals L 36-33
52,714
3 September 21, 1986 St. Louis Cardinals W 17-10
65,762
4 September 28, 1986 Kansas City Chiefs L 20-17
67,555
5 October 5, 1986 at New York Jets L 14-13
69,504
6 October 12, 1986 at Miami Dolphins L 27-14
49,467
7 October 19, 1986 Indianapolis Colts W 24-13
50,050
8 October 26, 1986 New England Patriots L 23-3
77,808
9 November 2, 1986 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 34-28
32,806
10 November 9, 1986 Pittsburgh Steelers W 16-12
72,000
11 November 16, 1986 Miami Dolphins L 34-24
76,474
12 November 23, 1986 at New England Patriots L 22-19
60,455
13 November 30, 1986 at Kansas City Chiefs W 17-14
31,492
14 December 7, 1986 Cleveland Browns L 21-17
42,213
15 December 14, 1986 at Indianapolis Colts L 24-14
52,783
16 December 21, 1986 at Houston Oilers L 16-7
31,409

Game summaries

Week 1 vs. Jets

Three years after being drafted by the Bills, Jim Kelly debuted in front of the home crowd with 292 yards passing and three touchdowns but it was not enough to overcome the divisional rival Jets.

Week 2 at Bengals

1 234OTTotal
Bills 3 61700 26
• Bengals 7 140123 36


[8]

Week 3

1 234Total
Cardinals 0 037 10
• Bills 0 1007 17

[9]

Week 4

1 234Total
• Chiefs 3 7010 20
Bills 7 073 17

[10]

Week 5

1 234Total
Bills 0 733 13
• Jets 0 707 14

[11]

Week 6

1 234Total
Bills 7 007 14
• Dolphins 3 7107 27

[12]

Week 7

1 234Total
Colts 3 370 13
• Bills 7 1070 24

[13]

Week 8

1 234Total
• Patriots 7 1033 23
Bills 0 030 3
  • Date: October 26
  • Location: Rich Stadium

[14]

Week 9

1 234Total
Bills 0 01414 28
• Buccaneers 10 10014 34

[15]

Week 10

1 234Total
Steelers 0 0120 12
• Bills 6 703 16
  • Date: November 9
  • Location: Rich Stadium
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 55°F; wind 27

[16]

Week 11

1 234Total
• Dolphins 0 101014 34
Bills 7 1430 24
  • Date: November 16
  • Location: Rich Stadium

[17]

Week 12

1 234Total
Bills 0 3313 19
• Patriots 9 607 22

[18]

Week 13

1 234Total
• Bills 0 1070 17
Chiefs 7 007 14

[19]

Week 14

1 234Total
• Browns 7 770 21
Bills 0 377 17
  • Date: December 7
  • Location: Rich Stadium

[20]

Week 15

1 234Total
Bills 7 700 14
• Colts 0 01410 24
  • Date: December 14
  • Location: Hoosier Dome
  • Game weather: Indoors (dome)

[21]

Week 16

1 234Total
Bills 0 700 7
• Oilers 7 333 16
  • Date: December 21
  • Location: Astrodome
  • Game weather: Indoors (dome)

[22]

Standings

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
New England Patriots(3) 11 5 0 .688 7-1 8-4 412 307 W1
New York Jets(4) 10 6 0 .625 6-2 8-4 364 386 L5
Miami Dolphins 8 8 0 .500 5-3 6-6 430 405 L1
Buffalo Bills 4 12 0 .250 1-7 3-11 287 348 L3
Indianapolis Colts 3 13 0 .188 1-7 2-10 229 400 W3

References

  1. ^ Levy would go on to coach the Bills for the subsequent eleven full seasons, before retiring after the 1997 season.
  2. ^ Talbot, Ryan (March 29, 2019). "Losing for Levy: How throwing game led to Buffalo Bills hiring HOF coach". syracuse.com. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ https://chaseblogg.wordpress.com/2008/09/13/brucesmith/
  4. ^ [Neft, David S.; Cohen, Richard M.; and Korch, Rich The Sports Encyclopedia: Pro Football, 12th Edition, p. 526, Martin's Press, August 1994, ISBN 0-312-11073-1
  5. ^ Harmon made the Pro Bowl with the San Diego Chargers in 1992.
  6. ^ Wolford made a third Pro Bowl with Indianapolis.
  7. ^ 1986 Buffalo Bills Media Guide. pp. 5-25.
  8. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  9. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Jun-06.
  10. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  11. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  12. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  13. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Nov-20.
  14. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  15. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  16. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-May-17.
  17. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  18. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  19. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  20. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  21. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.
  22. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Jan-07.

External links


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