Best moments in Buffalo Bills history, No. 16: NFL playoff win No. 1

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills didn't win a playoff game as a member of the NFL until 1981, when they beat the New York Jets on the road in the wild card round, 31-27.

The Buffalo Bills won back-to-back AFL Championships in the mid-1960s, and made the playoffs a few times in the interim, but it wasn't until 1981 that they won their first NFL playoff game. As the AFC wild card team, the Bills traveled to the New York Jets and won the season-long rubber match.

Joe Ferguson and wideout Frank Lewis (who ended the day with 158 receiving yards) led the Bills to a 24-0 lead with two early touchdown connections, but over the course of the game, Ferguson threw four interceptions, allowing the Jets to make a comeback. Joe Cribbs broke off a 45-yard rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter to push the score to 31-13, but the Jets weren't done, closing the gap to 31-27 late.

Five sacks, two fumble recoveries, and four interceptions by the Bills defense kept the heat off the offense. Richard Todd threw for 377 yards, but the Jets' ground game was held to just 71 yards as they tried to come back. Ultimately, the Bills were able to hang on for that 31-27 victory.

The following week, Buffalo lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, as Ken Anderson found Cris Collinsworth for a late touchdown pass, giving the Bengals a 28-21 win. Ferguson had turnover problems once again, throwing two interceptions en route to a -2 turnover margin for the Bills. Buffalo wouldn't be in another playoff game until 1988.

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
NFL playoff win No. 1 16 Thurman Thomas' missing helmet

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