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December 23, 1990: Frank Reich Leads Bills To Third Straight Division Title

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

We've been talking a lot about AFC East championships recently. In 1965, 1980, 1990 and 1995, the Buffalo Bills won divisional championships and advanced to the playoffs. The 1990 championship is the final one on the anniversary calendar, and it happened 20 years ago this afternoon.

Buffalo lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2 of the 1990 season by a score of 30-7. The vaunted K-Gun offense produced a pitiful 205 total yards and three turnovers against an admittedly very good Dolphins defense. It was the fewest points the team scored all year.

Fast forward three months, and the now 12-2 Bills are hosting the 11-3 Dolphins. A win clinches the third straight AFC East title for Buffalo, while a loss drops them even with Miami - who would then control their own destiny a week later against the Indianapolis Colts.

Jim Kelly and Will Wolford had been knocked from the previous week's win against the New York Giants with knee injuries. They were both feared done for the year. There's a saying that goes, "The favorite guy in town is the backup quarterback." Frank Reich would need to step in and secure a playoff spot as he had done the previous season by winning three straight October starts.

Reich delivered, as would become his custom. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns for the third-most passing yards allowed by Miami's fifth-ranked passing defense all year. Thurman Thomas had a huge day as well, carrying the ball 30 times for 154 yards and a touchdown while adding 29 receiving yards.

A record crowd of 80,235 was on hand to see the Bills clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye that allowed Kelly to return for the playoffs. Following the win, Bills fans stormed the field and tore down the goal posts.

With nothing to play for, the Bills lost a sloppy game to the Washington Redskins in Week 17 to finish the year 13-3. The Bills would advance to their first Super Bowl that season. We'll talk about that more later.