1981 Buffalo Bills season
Head Coach Chuck Knox
Home Field
Record 10–6
Place 3rd AFC East
Playoff Finish Lost Division Round
Previous season Next season
1980 1982

The 1981 Buffalo Bills season was the 22nd season for the club and its 12th in the National Football League.


NFL DraftEdit

Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team

Regular seasonEdit


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1981 New York Jets W 31–0
2 September 13, 1981 at Baltimore Colts W 35–3
3 September 17, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles L 20–14
4 September 27, 1981 at Cincinnati Bengals L 27–24
5 October 4, 1981 Baltimore Colts W 23–17
6 October 12, 1981 Miami Dolphins W 31–21
7 October 18, 1981 at New York Jets L 33–14
8 October 25, 1981 Denver Broncos W 9–7
9 November 1, 1981 Cleveland Browns W 22–13
10 November 9, 1981 at Dallas Cowboys L 27–14
11 November 15, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals L 24–0
12 November 22, 1981 New England Patriots W 20–17
13 November 29, 1981 Washington Redskins W 21–14
14 December 6, 1981 San Diego Chargers W 28–27
15 December 13, 1981 at New England Patriots W 19–10
16 December 19, 1981 at Miami Dolphins L 16–6

Standings Edit

AFC East
Miami Dolphins 1141.719345275
New York Jets 1051.656355287
Buffalo Bills 1060.625311276
Baltimore Colts 2140.125259533
New England Patriots 2140.125322370



Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wildcard December 27, 1981 at New York Jets W 31–27
Divisional January 3, 1982 at Cincinnati Bengals L 28–21

AFC Wild CardEdit

Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27
1 2 3 4 Total
Bills 17 7 0 7


Jets 0 10 3 14


at Shea Stadium, Flushing, Queens, New York

The Bills traveled to Shea Stadium, where the Jets were playing in their first playoff game since the 1970 merger. In a cold rain the Jets got off to a poor start as Bruce Harper fumbled the opening kickoff at his 25 and Charles Romes ran back the fumble for a touchdown. The Bills raced to a 24–0 lead in the second quarter as Frank Lewis caught two Joe Ferguson passes for touchdowns; the first was a pass from the Bills 40 yard line caught by Lewis at the Jets 32 and run in, then Joe Cribbs caught a 50-yarder, setting up Lewis' second catch; later Rufus Bess picked off Richard Todd and ran back 49 yards, setting up a field goal. But in the second the Jets began clawing back as Mickey Shuler caught a 30-yard touchdown in traffic (it was Shuler's first catch of the entire 1981 season) from Todd and following a Greg Buttle interception of Ferguson Pat Leahy booted a 26-yard field goal. A 19-yarder from Leahy was the only score in the third, then early in the fourth Ferguson was picked off by Donald Dykes, but Todd was intercepted by Bill Simpson. Following the Simpson pick Ferguson was intercepted again, by Jerry Holmes, but the Bills defense forced a mediocre punt by Chuck Ramsey caught at the 50. Three plays later Joe Cribbs caught a toss-sweep and ran in a 45-yard touchdown for Buffalo. But the Jets refused to give in; Todd tossed a 30-yard score to Bobby Jones and later Kevin Long ran in a 1-yard score. The Jets got the ball back in the final minutes, but a sack by Fred Smerlas led to a last-ditch Todd drive to the endzone; after completions to Gaffney and Scott Dierking Todd fired from the Bills 11 for the endzone but was picked off by Bill Simpson, ending a 31–27 Bills playoff win, only the third in the team's history and first since winning back-to-back AFL titles in the 1964 and '65 seasons.

Awards and honorsEdit


AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Baltimore Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Buffalo Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit Los Angeles
Miami Houston Oakland Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1981 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XVI

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