Worst moments in Buffalo Bills history, No. 16: Thurman's missing helmet

Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

The first sign that the Bills were going to be blown out by the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI: starting the game without their future Hall of Fame running back for the weirdest of reasons.

After the Buffalo Bills forced a three-and-out to start Super Bowl XXVI, their vaunted offense trotted out onto the field - albeit without their future Hall of Fame running back.

Kenneth Davis took the first handoff of that Super Bowl from Jim Kelly, while simultaneously the Bills' equipment staff was frantically searching for Thurman Thomas' helmet. That Super Bowl - and the legend of Thurman's lost helmet - rank among the very worst moments in Bills history.

"I firmly believe that one of his teammates picked up Thurman's helmet thinking it was theirs and walked to the other end of the bench and realized it wasn't his helmet, put it down and then went to find his own," said equipment manager Dave Hojnowski in 2011. Thomas' helmet wasn't in its normal spot when he returned from the coin toss and after frantic searching, it was found on the defensive side of the bench in time for the third offensive play from Buffalo.

The game didn't get much better for Thomas following the gaffe. He rushed for just 13 yards on 10 attempts as the Bills fell behind the Washington Redskins, 24-0, early in the third quarter.

Kelly had an awful day, too. He threw four interceptions, two coming deep in Bills territory, that eventually turned into Redskins touchdowns. He also had two of Buffalo's incredible six fumbles, was sacked five times, and even caught a pass for a loss of eight yards. James Lofton had the best game for Buffalo, catching 7 passes for 92 yards.

A year after taking the New York Giants to the brink, I don't think it was any easier to swallow the lashing the Washington Redskins put on the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.

Best Moments in Bills History # Worst Moments in Bills History
1966 AFL All-Star Game 25 Thurman Thomas in teal and orange
"We want Scott" 24 The Pats losing streak
Miami turns down Ralph Wilson 23 "Just give it to 'em"
Jim Kelly's last-second plunge 22 The "Bickering Bills"
Roland Hooks' Hail Mary catch 21 Tom Cousineau chooses the CFL
Joe Ferguson guts it out 20 Rob Johnson vs. Doug Flutie
20 points in 77 seconds 19 1966 AFL Championship
Jerry Butler jets past NY 18 Drafting Mike Williams
Cookie Gilchrist grounds the Jets 17 Jim Kelly's concussion curtain call
16 Thurman Thomas' missing helmet
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