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1961 Buffalo Bills season

1961 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Garrard "Buster" Ramsey
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field War Memorial Stadium
Record 6–8
Division place 4th Eastern
Playoff finish did not qualify
Previous season Next season
< 1960 1962 >

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]




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.

= All-AFL [4]
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]
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

Divisional standings

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

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 Stadium Record Attendance
1 September 10, 1961 Denver Broncos L 22–10 War Memorial Stadium 0–1
2 September 17, 1961 New York Titans W 41–31 War Memorial Stadium 1–1
3 September 23, 1961 Boston Patriots L 23–21 War Memorial Stadium 1–2
4 September 30, 1961 San Diego Chargers L 19–11 War Memorial Stadium 1–3
5 October 8, 1961 at Houston Oilers W 22–12 Jeppesen Stadium 2–3
6 October 15, 1961 Dallas Texans W 27–24 War Memorial Stadium 3–3
7 October 22, 1961 at Boston Patriots L 52–21 Boston University Field 3–4
8 October 29, 1961 Houston Oilers L 28–16 War Memorial Stadium 3–5
9 November 5, 1961 Oakland Raiders L 31–22 War Memorial Stadium 3–6
10 November 12, 1961 at Dallas Texans W 30–20 Cotton Bowl 4–6
11 November 19, 1961 at Denver Broncos W 23–10 Bears Stadium 5–6
12 November 23, 1961 at New York Titans L 21–14 Polo Grounds 5–7
13 December 3, 1961 at Oakland Raiders W 26–21 Candlestick Park 6–7
14 December 10, 1961 at San Diego Chargers L 28–10 Balboa Stadium 6–8

Final roster


  1. ^ 1961 Buffalo Bills
  2. ^ 1961 AFL Leaders and Leaderboards
  3. ^ 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 || Quarterback || Wake Forest
  9. ^ 1965 AFL All-Star
  10. ^ Inducted into Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (NFL) in 1989
  11. ^
  12. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 369
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