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 begin by looking at the 1966 AFL Championship game between the Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs.
When the Bills met the Chiefs in the 1966 AFL Championship game, it was the biggest game in the AFL's history. The winner of this game would go on to play the 1966 NFL champions in the first inter-league game between the two competing bodies.
The Bills were the two-time defending AFL Champions in 1966, but had lost their workhorse when Cookie Gilchrist was traded in the off-season. The offense was bad early in the season, and after going 10-3-1 in 1965, the Bills were 3-3-1 at the season's midpoint. The team rebounded offensively in the second half, though, and the Bills won the AFL East with a 9-4-1 record. Kansas City came in to Buffalo with an 11-2-1 record.
The Bills fumbled the opening kickoff, giving the Chiefs a short field from the start. Kansas City capitalized and went up 7-0, but the Bills quickly equaled the score on Jack Kemp's first pass of the game, which found Elbert "Golden Wheels" Dubenion for the score. Late in the first half, Buffalo was driving for the go-ahead score when a Kemp interception inside the Chiefs' 10-yard line set up a late field goal to give Kansas City the 10-7 halftime lead.
The Bills' offense completely fell apart after the half, managing only nine first downs on the day - their lowest output of the entire season. The team committed four turnovers in crucial spots, and gained only 186 yards after Dubenion's long touchdown to start the game. When it was all said and done, Kansas City won the right to face the NFL's Green Bay Packers by a score of 31-7.
Sports Illustrated had a reporter at the game, who had this to say this about the Bills' fans in attendance.
"From the bleachers at Buffalo's inadequate stadium, snowballs, rocks and chunks of ice began to fly toward the field. The Chiefs were soundly pelted but they escaped and clattered into their locker room for a few gargles [of celebratory mouthwash]."
This game was really the beginning of the end for the great Bills AFL dynasty. From 1967 to well past the merger in 1970, the Bills were awful, and routinely finished in the doldrums in the standings. This was the first of six straight losses to the Chiefs.