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December 26, 1965: Buffalo Bills Win Second Consecutive AFL Championship

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

The Buffalo Bills won their first American Football League Championship in 1964. A year later the team had the best record in the league but still traveled to San Diego for a rematch with the AFL West Chargers. Buffalo's defense shut down the Chargers and gave the Bills their second AFL title by a final of 23-0.

The Bills were underdogs in the game despite owning the best record and beating the Chargers in the previous year's Championship. Without WRs Elbert Dubenion and Glenn Bass (injured) and RB Cookie Glichrist (traded in offseason) how could the Bills offense overcome? The Bills hadn't beaten the Chargers all year. They played to a tie in the first meeting and got blown out in the second game held at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo.

The Chargers were so confident, San Diego coach Sid Gillman told the Buffalo News "You know, there is no way we can lose this game on Sunday…We’re going to win this game because Kemp has the maturity of a 10-year-old girl."

After a scoreless first quarter, that 10-year-old girl threw a touchdown pass to Ernie Warlick giving the Bills their first lead of the game. Following a Butch Byrd interception return for a touchdown the Bills led 14-0 at the half. Three Pete Gogolak field goals in the second half capped the scoring.

"Henry Schmidt and Tommy Janik gave me big blocks after I caught it," said Bills Wall of Fame member Byrd. "I stepped inside and tried to stay along the sidelines. The referee said I stayed in bounds by about a half inch…Paul Maguire knocked down two guys at about the 10…Man, he really hit ’em. That sprung me."

Buffalo's ball control offense netted only 260 total yards on the day. Jack Kemp was a measly 8 for 19 for 155 yards and that touchdown with an interception. Wray Carlton and Billy Joe each had 16 carries but could muster only 98 rushing yards.

The stars of the day were the defense. The Chargers were held to 223 total yards and Chargers QB John Hadl threw two interceptions. The Bills pressured Hadl all day for five sacks.

The Bills celebrated their second consecutive AFL Championship but it would all go away suddenly. After the season head coach Lou Saban left. Joe Collier took the Bills to the AFL Championship in 1966 where the Bills lost. The next season they were a 4-win team.