1988 Buffalo Bills Season
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1988 Buffalo Bills Season

1988 Buffalo Bills season
OwnerRalph Wilson
Head coachMarv Levy
General managerBill Polian
Home fieldRich Stadium
Results
Record12-4
Division place1st AFC East
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. Oilers) 17-10
Lost AFC Championship (at Bengals) 10-21

The 1988 Buffalo Bills season was the franchise's 29th overall season as a football team and the 19th in the National Football League. The Bills ended a streak of four consecutive losing seasons by winning the AFC East; they finished the NFL's 1988 season with a record of 12 wins and 4 losses; it was the club's first winning season since 1981, its first 12-win season since the 1964 AFL championship season, and only the fifth double-digit win season in team history. The Bills were 8-0 at home for the first time in their franchise history.[1] On the road, the Bills were 4-4. From an attendance standpoint, the franchise set a record for attendance with 631,818 fans.[2]

This was the first of four consecutive AFC East titles for the Bills. They started the season 11-1 before losing three of their final four games, costing them the top seed in the AFC, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

It was Buffalo's first trip to the postseason since 1981. The Bills were the #2 seed in the AFC (behind #1 Cincinnati), giving the Bills their first home playoff game since the 1966 AFL Championship, and their first ever playoff game at Rich Stadium. The 1988 season would be the first of five AFC Championship game appearances over six seasons,[3] and their only loss in the conference championship game.

The 1988 season was the first for running back Thurman Thomas, nose tackle Jeff Wright, and linebacker Carlton Bailey. Thomas would rush for 881 yards, despite only carrying the ball 207 times (42.7% of total team carries by a running back) while sharing carries with Robb Riddick, Jamie Mueller and Ronnie Harmon.

The Bills had a dominant defense in 1988: they gave up the fewest points (237) and the fewest total yards (4,578) in the AFC in 1988. The defensive unit was given the nickname "Blizzard Defense,"[4][5] alluding to Buffalo's harsh winters.

Four Bills players made the All-Pro team in 1988: defensive end Bruce Smith, linebackers Shane Conlan and Cornelius Bennett, and kicker Scott Norwood.

Head coach Marv Levy was named NFL Coach of the Year by The Sporting News and UPI.

Offseason

NFL Draft

ESPN's cameras watched Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas in his home as he waited to be drafted. He fell to the second round, where the Bills made him their first pick at 40th overall. Thomas would go on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career, where he would eclipse O. J. Simpson's all-time team rushing record with 12,074 yards. Thomas would set an NFL record by leading the league in yards-from-scrimmage for four consecutive years, from 1989-1992. (The record of three was previously held by Hall of Famer Jim Brown.) Thomas was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1992.

1988 Buffalo Bills draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
2 40 Thurman Thomas * +  RB Oklahoma State
3 65 Bernard Ford  WR Central Florida
5 123 Ezekial Gadson  DB Pittsburgh
5 135 Kirk Roach  K Western Carolina
6 150 Dan Murray  OLB East Stroudsburg
7 177 Tim Borcky  OT Memphis
7 184 Bo Wright  RB Alabama
8 204 John Hagy  DB Texas
8 213 Jeff Wright  DT Central Missouri State
9 235 Carlton Bailey  ILB North Carolina
10 262 Martin Mayhew  CB Florida State Placed on injured reserve
11 289 Pete Curkendall  DT Penn State
12 309 John Driscoll  OT New Hampshire
12 316 Tom Erlandson  LB Washington
      Made roster    +   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

[6]

Personnel

Staff

[7]

Roster

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance
1 September 4, 1988 Minnesota Vikings W 13-10 1-0 Rich Stadium 76,783
2 September 11, 1988 Miami Dolphins W 9-6 2-0 Rich Stadium 79,520
3 September 18, 1988 at New England Patriots W 16-14 3-0 Sullivan Stadium 55,945
4 September 25, 1988 Pittsburgh Steelers W 36-28 4-0 Rich Stadium 78,735
5 October 2, 1988 at Chicago Bears L 24-3 4-1 Soldier Field 62,793
6 October 9, 1988 Indianapolis Colts W 34-23 5-1 Rich Stadium 76,018
7 October 17, 1988 at New York Jets W 37-14 6-1 The Meadowlands 70,218
8 October 23, 1988 New England Patriots W 23-20 7-1 Rich Stadium 76,824
9 October 30, 1988 Green Bay Packers W 28-0 8-1 Rich Stadium 79,176
10 November 6, 1988 at Seattle Seahawks W 13-3 9-1 Kingdome 61,074
11 November 14, 1988 at Miami Dolphins W 31-6 10-1 Joe Robbie Stadium 67,091
12 November 20, 1988 New York Jets W 9-6 (OT) 11-1 Rich Stadium 78,389
13 November 27, 1988 at Cincinnati Bengals L 35-21 11-2 Riverfront Stadium 58,672
14 December 4, 1988 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 10-5 11-3 Tampa Stadium 49,498
15 December 11, 1988 Los Angeles Raiders W 37-21 12-3 Rich Stadium 77,348
16 December 18, 1988 at Indianapolis Colts L 17-14 12-4 Hoosier Dome 59,908

Season summary

Week 1

1 234Total
Vikings 0 307 10
Bills 10 003 13

Week 2

Miami Dolphins (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)
1 234Total
Dolphins 3 030 6
• Bills 0 306 9

[8]

Week 3

1 234Total
• Bills 0 3310 16
Patriots 0 1400 14
  • Date: September 18
  • Location: Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 55,945
  • Game weather: 67 °F (19 °C) oWind 14 miles per hour (23 km/h; 12 kn)
  • Referee: Fred Wyant
  • Television network: NBC

[9]

Week 4

1 234Total
Steelers 0 14014 28
• Bills 10 6146 36

[10]

Week 5

Buffalo Bills (4-0) at Chicago Bears (4-0)
1 234Total
Bills 3 000 3
• Bears 7 1700 24


[11]

Week 6

Indianapolis Colts (1-4) at Buffalo Bills (4-1)
1 234Total
Colts 10 733 23
Bills 0 71413 34

Week 7

1 234Total
Bills 17 1433 37
Jets 0 770 14

[12]

Week 8

Week 9

1 234Total
Packers 0 000 0
• Bills 7 777 28

[13]

Week 12

1 234OTTotal
Jets 0 3030 6
Bills 0 0333 9
  • Date: November 20
  • Location: Rich Stadium o Orchard Park, New York
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 78,389
  • Game weather: 43 °F o Wind 10
  • Referee: Dick Hantak
  • TV announcers (NBC): Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy

The Bills clinch the AFC Eastern division title.

[14]

Standings

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Buffalo Bills(2) 12 4 0 .750 7-1 10-2 329 237 L1
Indianapolis Colts 9 7 0 .563 5-3 7-5 354 315 W1
New England Patriots 9 7 0 .563 5-3 7-5 250 284 L1
New York Jets 8 7 1 .531 3-5 6-7-1 372 354 W2
Miami Dolphins 6 10 0 .375 0-8 3-9 319 380 L1

Playoffs

AFC Divisional Playoff

Buffalo's first playoff game since 1981 was a 17-10 win over the Oilers. Jim Kelly threw for 244 yards and an interception while Thurman Thomas and Robb Riddick had rushing scores to go with 87 rushing yards. The Bills intercepted Warren Moon once and forced two Oilers fumbles.

AFC Championship Game

The Bengals forced 3 interceptions, and allowed only 45 rushing yards and 136 passing yards, while their offense held the ball for 39:29. Bills starting running back Thurman Thomas was held to just 6 yards on 4 carries, while quarterback Jim Kelly completed only 14 of 30 passes for 161 yards and 1 touchdown, with 3 interceptions.

Awards and records

All-Pros

First Team

Second Team

References

  1. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 262
  2. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 390
  3. ^ Buffalo also reached the conference championship following the 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons, winning them all
  4. ^ Milwaukee Journal, December 21, 1988 | Retrieved January 11, 2012
  5. ^ Orlando Sentinel, December 22, 1988 | Retrieved January 11, 2012: "ANOTHER BLIZZARD is sweeping through Buffalo. The effects of this one aren't being felt by residents, but by opposing teams at the Buffalo Bills' Rich Stadium. This blizzard is actually The Blizzard Defense, which is the name Bills defenders chose for themselves as part of a local newspaper's Name That Defense contest. Members of the AFC's top-ranked defense selected that name over dozens submitted by readers of The Buffalo News."
  6. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2014-Aug-11.
  7. ^ 1988 Buffalo Bills Media Guide. pp. 3-24.
  8. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  9. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  10. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Aug-10.
  11. ^ [1]. Retrieved 2021-Apr-18.
  12. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  13. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Dec-15.
  14. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com

External links


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