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 at the removal of a giant albatross from the Bills' necks.
The Buffalo Bills hold the longest losing streak to a single opponent in NFL history. During the 1970s, Buffalo did not beat the Miami Dolphins. In the season opener of the 1980 season, however, the Bills began a new decade with a statement victory.
Trailing 7-3 going into the fourth quarter, Buffalo scored two touchdowns in the final 3:42 of the game to secure a 17-7 win. Fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts after the game - a sign that the fans were feeling the losing streak even more than the team itself.
"Stingy" Ralph Wilson didn't care about the vandlaism. "It’s the biggest win this club’s ever had," he commented. "Bigger than the AFL championships. I’ll be happy to buy new goal posts."
The Bills were led that day by rookie running back Joe Cribbs, who had 60 yards on the ground and 71 through the air as well as the game-winning touchdown run. Joe Ferguson, who had suffered through 14 straight losses to the Dolphins, threw a touchdown pass to Roosevelt Leaks for the other score. On defense, Jeff Nixon notched three interceptions to halt the Dolphins' passing attack.
"It was so nice to see us finally beat them," Nixon says in Buffalo Bills: The Complete Illustrated History by Sal Maiorana, where an entire page is devoted to the streak and the game that ended it. "Not so much for me, but for the older veteran guys that had played for ten years and had lost every single game."
Ferguson's touchdown pass almost cleansed the palate of his five-interception performance. The Bills turned the ball over a total of seven times, but a win is a win. Six forced turnovers helped level the playing field.
Buffalo turned the momentum from the season-opening win into an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance since 1974. In the playoffs, they would defeat the New York Jets but fall to the San Diego Chargers.