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1981 Buffalo Bills season

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Title: 1981 Buffalo Bills season  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Buffalo Bills, Super Bowl XVI, AFC East, 1981 NFL Draft, List of Buffalo Bills seasons, 1981 New England Patriots season, List of New York Jets seasons, List of Buffalo Bills starting quarterbacks
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

1981 Buffalo Bills season

1981 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Chuck Knox
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Rich Stadium
Record 10–6
Division place 3rd AFC East
Playoff finish Lost Division Round
Previous season      Next season
< 1980      1982 >

The 1981 Buffalo Bills season was the 22nd season for the club and its 12th in the National Football League.

The season's most memorable moment might have been a Hail Mary catch against the New England Patriots in Week Twelve.[1] The 36-yard touchdown pass from Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson to running back Roland Hooks as time expired won the game for Buffalo, 20-17.[2] The win proved to be crucial in giving Buffalo the final playoff spot in the AFC in 1981.[3]


NFL Draft

Main article: 1981 NFL Draft

Running back Robb Riddick played eight seasons for the Bills; he started eight games and ran for 632 total yards in 1986, and he became a short-yardage specialist in 1988

Round Pick # Player Position College
1 28 Booker Moore Running back Penn State
2 49 Chris Williams Defensive back LSU
2 49 Byron Franklin Wide receiver Auburn
3 76 Mike Mosley Wide receiver Texas A&M
3 84 Robert Geathers Defensive tackle South Carolina State
5 135 Calvin Clark Defensive end Purdue
6 161 Robert Holt Wide receiver Baylor
7 188 Steve Doolittle Linebacker Colorado
9 241 Robb Riddick Running back Millersville (PA)
10 272 Justin Cross Offensive tackle Western Colorado
11 299 Buster Barnett Tight end Jackson State
12 326 Keith Clark Linebacker Memphis State

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1981 New York Jets W 31–0
2 September 13, 1981 at Baltimore Colts W 35–3
3 September 17, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles L 20–14
4 September 27, 1981 at Cincinnati Bengals L 27–24
5 October 4, 1981 Baltimore Colts W 23–17
6 October 12, 1981 Miami Dolphins W 31–21
7 October 18, 1981 at New York Jets L 33–14
8 October 25, 1981 Denver Broncos W 9–7
9 November 1, 1981 Cleveland Browns W 22–13
10 November 9, 1981 at Dallas Cowboys L 27–14
11 November 15, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals L 24–0
12 November 22, 1981 New England Patrios W 20–17
13 November 29, 1981 Washington Redskins W 21–14
14 December 6, 1981 San Diego Chargers W 28–27
15 December 13, 1981 at New England Patriots W 19–10
16 December 19, 1981 at Miami Dolphins L 16–6




Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wildcard December 27, 1981 at New York Jets W 31–27
Divisional January 3, 1982 at Cincinnati Bengals L 28–21

AFC Wild Card

Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27
1 2 34Total
Bills 17 7 0731
Jets 0 10 31427

at Shea Stadium, Flushing, Queens, New York

The Bills traveled to Shea Stadium, where the Jets were playing in their first playoff game since the 1970 merger. In a cold rain the Jets got off to a poor start as Bruce Harper fumbled the opening kickoff at his 25 and Charles Romes ran back the fumble for a touchdown. The Bills raced to a 24–0 lead in the second quarter as Frank Lewis caught two Joe Ferguson passes for touchdowns; the first was a pass from the Bills 40 yard line caught by Lewis at the Jets 32 and run in, then Joe Cribbs caught a 50-yarder, setting up Lewis' second catch; later Rufus Bess picked off Richard Todd and ran back 49 yards, setting up a field goal. But in the second the Jets began clawing back as Mickey Shuler caught a 30-yard touchdown in traffic (it was Shuler's first catch of the entire 1981 season) from Todd and following a Greg Buttle interception of Ferguson Pat Leahy booted a 26-yard field goal. A 19-yarder from Leahy was the only score in the third, then early in the fourth Ferguson was picked off by Donald Dykes, but Todd was intercepted by Bill Simpson. Following the Simpson pick Ferguson was intercepted again, by Jerry Holmes, but the Bills defense forced a mediocre punt by Chuck Ramsey caught at the 50. Three plays later Joe Cribbs caught a toss-sweep and ran in a 45-yard touchdown for Buffalo. But the Jets refused to give in; Todd tossed a 30-yard score to Bobby Jones and later Kevin Long ran in a 1-yard score. The Jets got the ball back in the final minutes, but a sack by Fred Smerlas led to a last-ditch Todd drive to the endzone; after completions to Gaffney and Scott Dierking Todd fired from the Bills 11 for the endzone but was picked off by Bill Simpson, ending a 31–27 Bills playoff win, only the third in the team's history and first since winning back-to-back AFL titles in the 1964 and '65 seasons.

Awards and honors


First Team

Second Team


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

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