Twenty years ago today, the Buffalo Bills organization was full of hope and anticipation. For the first time in team history, the Bills would be playing in the Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Raiders went 12-4 during the 1990 season behind a stout defense. Someone forgot to tell that defense to show up in their AFC Championship Game matchup in Buffalo.
With a building-record 80,324 fans in attendance at Rich Stadium, the Bills raced out to a 21-3 score by the end of the first quarter. By halftime the Bills were up 41-3, and the workers in Tampa had already begun painting "BILLS" in one end zone of the stadium. On the day, Buffalo's defense forced seven turnovers, holding Tim Brown to just two receptions and Marcus Allen to 26 yards on 10 carries in the process. Darryl Talley returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown.
The offense amassed over 500 total yards. James Lofton caught two touchdown passes from Jim Kelly, who topped 300 yards passing before being removed from the game. Thurman Thomas scored one touchdown before Kenneth Davis punched the ball in three times. To finish off the scoring, Scott Norwood added a 31-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
As Democrat & Chronicle columnist Sal Maiorana noted earlier this week, the 51-3 win was just a respite from real life that day. With security and patriotism at an all-time high in the wake of the United States combat operations in the Persian Gulf, Bills fans didn't disappoint and showed up decked out in their red, white, and blue in support of the troops. Just three days earlier, the military had begun bombardments of military targets in an attempt to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. American flags mixed with tri-colored Zubaz pants, winter parkas, and hats made for a very inspiring scene.
"We had a chance to win a championship game, and all of a sudden it was put into perspective that it was kind of meaningless compared to what was going on in the Gulf," special teams ace Steve Tasker said. "So it was a little disappointing in that we weren't going to be able to revel in it."
A week later, the Bills faced off against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. We'll have more on that a week from today.