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1988 Buffalo Bills season

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Title: 1988 Buffalo Bills season  
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Subject: Buffalo Bills, Marv Levy, AFC Championship Game, AFC East, 1988 NFL season, Stan Gelbaugh, 1988 NFL Draft, List of AFC Championship Game broadcasters, 1988 Chicago Bears season, 1989 Pro Bowl
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1988 Buffalo Bills season

1988 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Marv Levy
General manager Bill Polian
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Rich Stadium
Results
Record 12–4
Division place 1st AFC East
Playoff finish Lost AFC Championship Game
Timeline
Previous season      Next season
< 1987      1989 >

The 1988 Buffalo Bills season was the 29th season for the team and the 19th season 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]

The Bills 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 1964 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

Main article: 1988 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 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 1992 NFL Offensive Player of the Year

= Pro Bowler [6] = Hall of Famer
Pick # Player Position College
40 Thurman Thomas Running Back Oklahoma State
65 Bernard Ford Wide Receiver Central Florida
123 Ezekial Gadson Defensive Back Pittsburgh
135 Kirk Roach Kicker Western Carolina
150 Dan Murray Outside Linebacker E. Stroudsburg, Pa.
177 Tim Borcky Tackle Memphis
184 Bo Wright Running Back Alabama
204 John Hagy Safety Texas
213 Jeff Wright Nose Tackle Central Missouri
235 Carlton Bailey Inside Linebacker North Carolina

Personnel

Staff

1988 Buffalo Bills staff

Front Office

  • President – Ralph Wilson
  • Vice President of Administration/General Manager – Bill Polian
  • Director of College Scouting – John Butler
  • Director of Pro Personnel/Asst. Director of Football Operations – Bob Ferguson
  • National Scout – Norm Pollom
  • College Scout – A. J. Smith

Head Coaches

  • Vice President for Football Operations/Head Coach – Marv Levy
  • Administrative Assistant to the Head Coach – Chuck Dickerson

Offensive Coaches

 

Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers – Walt Corey
  • Defensive Line – Ted Cottrell
  • Defensive Backs – Dick Roach
  • Defensive Assistant – Chuck Lester

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams – Bruce DeHaven

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning Coordinator – Rusty Jones

[7]

Roster

1988 Team Starters
Offense
12  Jim Kelly           QB
34  Thurman Thomas      RB
39  Jamie Mueller       FB
86  Trumaine Johnson    WR
83  Andre Reed          WR
88  Pete Metzelaars     TE
73  Will Wolford        LT
51  Jim Ritcher         LG
67  Kent Hull           C
65  Tim Vogler          RG
70  Joe Devlin          RT
Defense
72  Art Still          LDE
76  Fred Smerlas       NT
78  Bruce Smith        RDE
55  Cornelius Bennett  LB
58  Shane Conlan       LB
50  Ray Bentley        LB
56  Darryl Talley      LB
29  Derrick Burroughs  LCB
37  Nate Odomes        RCB
46  Leonard Smith      SS
38  Mark Kelso         FS
Kicking Team 
11  Scott Norwood     K
4   John Kidd         P
80  Flip Johnson      WR/PR
22  Erroll Tucker     KR

1988 Buffalo Bills roster

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

  • 77 Tony Brown OT (IR)
  • 82
  • 42
  • 74 Bruce Mesner NT (IR)
  • 57 Dan Murray ILB (IR)
  • 98 Elston Ridgle DE (IR)
  • 20 Bo Wright RB (IR)

Rookies in italics

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
  • Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com


Week 2

1 234Total
Dolphins 3 030 6
• Bills 0 306 9

[8]


Week 3

1 234Total
• Bills 0 3310 16
Patriots 0 1400 14

[9]


Week 6

1 234Total
Colts 10 733 23
Bills 0 71413 34
  • Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com



Week 7

1 234Total
Bills 17 1433 37
Jets 0 770 14

[10]


Week 12

1 234OTTotal
Jets 0 3030 6
Bills 0 0333 9
  • Date: November 20
  • Location: Rich Stadium • Orchard Park, New York
  • Game start: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game attendance: 78,389
  • Game weather: 43°F • Wind 10

The Bills clinch the AFC East division title.

[11]



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 Bills 17, Houston Oilers 10
1 2 34Total
Oilers 0 3 0710
Bills 0 7 7317

at Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, New York

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

Cincinnati Bengals 21, Buffalo Bills 10
1 2 34Total
Bills 0 10 0010
Bengals 7 7 0721

at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

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

Main article: 1988 All-Pro Team

First Team

Second Team

References

External links

  • Bills on Pro Football Reference
  • Bills on jt-sw.com
  • Bills Stats on jt-sw.com

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