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1976 Buffalo Bills season

1976 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Lou Saban (resigned)
Jim Ringo (interim)
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Rich Stadium
Record 2–12
Division place 5th AFC East
Playoff finish did not qualify
Previous season      Next season
< 1975      1977 >

The 1976 Buffalo Bills season was the 17th season for the club and its seventh in the National Football League.

Buffalo's season was troubled from the start, as the team was in a contract dispute with star running back O.J. Simpson. Simpson had been demanding a trade, before finally agreeing to a three-year, $2.5 million contract.[1]

The Bills started the season 2-2, before losing their final ten games of the season. Quarterback Joe Ferguson only started the first seven games before being sidelined for the season with a back injury. Backup quarterback Gary Marangi started Buffalo's final seven games, all losses.

Fullback Jim Braxton injured his knee in the Bills' season opener and was lost for the season. Simpson still led the NFL in rushing in 1976, even without Braxton's blocking.[2]

Bills head coach Lou Saban resigned after the fifth game of the season, with the Bills struggling at 2-3. Offensive line coach Jim Ringo took over, but would not win a game for the rest of the year.


Before the 1976 season, Buffalo lost some key players, notably wide receivers Ahmad Rashad and J.D. Hill, and defensive linemen Earl Edwards, Walt Patulski and Pat Toomay.[3]

NFL Draft

Main article: 1976 NFL Draft

Note: 1976 was the final year in which the NFL draft was seventeen rounds; it would be reduced to twelve rounds in 1977.

The Bills' 1976 draft produced four long-time starters with their first four picks. First round pick Mario Clark played for seven seasons with the Bills. Offensive guard Ken Jones played for the Bills for eleven years. Offensive tackle Joe Devlin played every game of his 14-year career with the Bills, playing in all 191 regular-season games until his retirement after the 1989 season.[4] Defensive end Ben Williams played for the Bills for 10 years; he was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro for the 1982 season.

= Pro Bowler [5]
Round Pick # Player Position College
1 18 Mario Clark Defensive back Oregon
2 45 Ken Jones Guard Arkansas State
2 52 Joe Devlin Tackle Iowa
3 78 Ben Williams[6] Defensive end Mississippi
4 109 Dan Jilek Linebacker Michigan
5 142 Fred Coleman Tight end N.E. Louisiana
6 164 Leslie Benson Defensive end Baylor
6 171 Scott Piper Wide receiver Arizona
6 175 Darnell Powell Running back Tennessee-Chattanooga
7 195 Jackie Williams Defensive back Texas A & M
8 215 Scott Gardner Quarterback Virginia
8 226 Bobby Joe Easter Running back Middle Tennessee State
8 227 Art Meadowcroft Guard Minnesota
9 241 Jeff Turner Linebacker Kansas
9 255 Bob Kotzur Defensive tackle Southwest Texas State
10 280 Keith Moody Defensive back Syracuse
11 309 Forry Smith Wide receiver Iowa State
12 336 Joe Lowery Running back Jackson State
13 365 Will Wilcox Guard Texas
14 392 Tony Williams Wide receiver Middle Tennessee State
15 421 Arnold Robinson Linebacker Bethune-Cookman
16 448 Gary Gorrell [Linebacker Boise State
17 477 Bob Berg Kicker New Mexico

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 13, 1976 Miami Dolphins L 30–21
2 September 19, 1976 Houston Oilers L 13–3
3 September 26, 1976 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 14–9
4 October 3, 1976 Kansas City Chiefs W 50–17
5 October 10, 1976 at New York Jets L 17–14
6 October 17, 1976 Baltimore Colts L 31–13
7 October 24, 1976 New England Patriots L 26–22
8 October 31, 1976 New York Jets L 19–14
9 November 7, 1976 at New England Patriots L 20–10
10 November 15, 1976 at Dallas Cowboys L 17–10
11 November 21, 1976 San Diego Chargers L 34–13
12 November 25, 1976 at Detroit Lions L 27–14
13 December 5, 1976 at Miami Dolphins L 45–27
14 December 12, 1976 at Baltimore Colts L 58–20

Season summary

Week 4

1 234Total
Chiefs 0 1070 17
Bills 16 7720 50




Awards and honors

  • O.J. Simpson, Thanksgiving Day Record, Most Rushing Yards in One Game, 273 yards vs. Detroit Lions, Nov. 25 [8]

First Team All-Pros

Main article: 1976 All-Pro Team

See also


  • Bills on Pro Football Reference
  • Bills on
  • Bills Stats on

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