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In the AFC wild card playoff round, the New England Patriots will see a well-known opponent in the Buffalo Bills. The AFC East’s enemies have clashed 124 times over the last six decades, but Saturday’s matchup will be just their second post-season encounter.
December’s competition in Buffalo was marked by strong winds and cold weather. The Patriots ran 222 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 14-10 victory over Monday Night Football. New England rookie quarterback Mac Jones only threw the ball three times in 19 yards.
Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills took the second meeting of the season with a 33-21 decision in Week 16.
As these teams prepare to fight for the 125th time, let’s revisit some of the rivalry’s most memorable moments, as selected by NFL Nation reporters Mike Reiss and Alaina Getzenberg.
Sept. 16, 1973: OJ Simpson’s record day
Pro Football Hall of Fame running back OJ Simpson began his fifth NFL season with a historic outing against the Patriots. The then 26-year-old back ran 250 yards on 29 carries and set an NFL single-game record for rushing yards. His two touchdowns helped Buffalo route New England 31-13.
The star ran back for another 219 yards and a goal in his second meeting with the Pats on Dec. 9, when the Bills won again, 37-13.
Simpson’s 1973 season, when he rushed for 2,003 yards, was one for the history books. It was the first time a player ever hit the 2,000-yard rushing mark, making it a single season record at the time.
December 18, 1994: The Patriots score 38 straight at the Bills
Bill’s quarterback Frank Reich (now coach of the Indianapolis Colts) led one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history, bringing his team from a 35-3 deficit to victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 AFC wild-card round. He also played a role in an epic collapse that his team suffered against the Pats two years later.
Reich and the Bills built a 17-3 lead over New England in the second quarter, but the Pats eventually woke up. They scored 38 unanswered points after a three-touchdown day from signalman Drew Bledsoe and forced bills to five turnovers. What started as a 17-3 lead for Buffalo ended in a 41-17 defeat.
Sept. 7, 2003: “The Lawyer Milloy Game”
The 2003 season opener between these teams will forever be known as the “Lawyer Milloy Game.” Five days before this competition, the Patriots released veteran security for payroll reasons. Former Patriots QB Bledsoe was also on the Bills’ 2003 roster. Following the appearance of Tom Brady, New England traded Bledsoe to Buffalo for a first-round pick in 2003 in April 2002.
The Bills signed Malloy after his release, and both players played a role in the defeat of their team that got the Brady and the Patriots. Bledsoe threw in 230 yards, a touchdown and an interception, which helped the Bills get a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Milloy finished with a sack and five tackles, and he helped force one of four interceptions to Brady in a 31-0 victory.
“It feels good,” Milloy said of winning the game. “But it feels good in a positive way, not in a personal vendetta way. I could sit up here and throw names out and stick it to them, but they know it.”
November 18, 2007: Brady resigns
In Week 10 of the 2007 season, the 9-0 Pats showed no mercy with the 5-4 bills.
Brady burned Buffalo’s secondary and completed 31 of 39 passes in 373 yards and five touchdowns. Four of them went to Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, who had 10 receptions at 128 yards. The Pats’ offense scored on its first seven offensive drives. The Bills’ attack turned the ball around twice, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
The 56-10 beating of Buffalo gave New England a perfect 10-0 start, the 10th team to begin the season with such a record. Unfortunately, it would not end like this when the Pats, who ended the regular season with 16-0, lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.
December 28, 2008: Running against the wind
Before last month’s windy duel between these two teams, the 2008 regular season finale in Buffalo was a more windy affair.
Winds reported up to 75 mph caused damage to Bills’ training ground roof and titled both goal posts before the match. It was so bad that field staff tied the goalposts with ropes to re-center them before kickoff.
Despite the wind, the game still continued as planned. New England, who were without Brady due to an ACL injury that year, threw the ball eight times in the competition. The Patriots ran it 47 times for 168 yards and a score, implementing a game plan similar to their December outing under similar conditions.
New England delivered a 13-0 victory, forcing Buffalo to one turnover.
The Patriots missed the playoffs that year despite finishing with a record of 11-5.