Each week, Buffalo Rumblings will prepare you for the Buffalo Bills' upcoming opponent by looking back into the history of the series to find a memorable game or moment. This week, we look back to two games that have defined Buffalo to a generation of NFL fans.
The Buffalo Bills had won back-to-back AFC Championships in 1990 and 1991. They had also lost both Super Bowl appearances to the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The following season, Buffalo would once again win the AFC Championship, bringing their total to three consecutive titles. Unfortunately, another NFC East team would deny them the big prize, as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Bills in Super Bowls XXVII.
Buffalo opened the scoring in with a Thurman Thomas touchdown that came a few plays after Steve Tasker blocked a punt that ended the Cowboys' opening possession. But Dallas answered with two touchdowns, and Buffalo couldn't score on a fourth down play from the three-yard line before Steve Christie later closed the gap to 14-10. A pair of Michael Irvin touchdown catches in the second quarter gave Dallas a commanding 28-10 lead going into the break.
Dallas was able to continuously pour it on thanks to a multitude of Buffalo mistakes. Jim Kelly had two interceptions and a fumble in the first half. Thomas put a ball on the ground that was recovered by the Cowboys. Frank Reich threw an interception in the waning moments of the half, giving the Bills five turnovers in only 30 minutes of play.
Following a much-improved third quarter where the Bills defense held the Cowboys to only a field goal, Reich connected with Don Beebe for a touchdown to pull the deficit to 31-17. This was the team that had completed the greatest comeback in NFL history only weeks before. They had a shot.
But then the wheels came off. The Cowboys put another seven points on the board to start the fourth quarter. Then another Reich interception led to another Cowboys touchdown. Reich then dropped a shotgun snap, and the Cowboys returned it for a touchdown to give the Cowboys a 52-17.
The Bills had one more turnover in them, though, and it has become the most enduring play from Super Bowl XXVII. After another Reich fumble, Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett picked up the loose ball and rumbled toward the end zone for the exclamation point on the blowout. Speedy receiver Don Beebe chased him 100 yards and knocked the ball out of Lett's hand just as he was about to score. The fumble went through the end zone and gave Buffalo the ball back, preventing further humiliation on the scoreboard.
Thomas was held to 29 total yards. The Bills committed a Super Bowl record nine turnovers and became the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls.
The Bills and Cowboys would meet the following year in Super Bowl XXVII, and while Buffalo wasn't quite as bad as they were on this day, they would indeed lose their fourth consecutive Super Bowl to an NFC East team when Dallas handed them another defeat.