1990 Buffalo Bills, the Amazing Run

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1990 Buffalo Bills, the Amazing Run
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Determination and desire, just two words to describe the team that walked off the field in Cleveland that January after a devastating playoff loss to the Browns.

1990 was going to be their year.  By season's start, the Bills had signed Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Shane Conlan to long term contracts. 

Injuries to the offensive line during training camp forced the team to make drastic moves, moving rookie Glenn Parker to left tackle, Mitch Frerotte to left guard, and John Davis to right guard; and already having Howard Ballard at right tackle, along with Kent Hull at center, the core of the offense was now intact.

The season began against the Indianapolis Colts at home.  Jeff George was the number one draft choice that year and would start for the struggling Colts.  He was knocked out of the game early in the forth quarter by a vicious "welcome to the NFL" hit from Cornelius Bennett. 

During that game the no-huddle was born.  While only used for one drive, Jim Kelly moved the team down field quickly and efficiently, often confusing the Colt defenders.  After the drive the, offensive line asked Kelly, "We are not going to do that again are we"?

The following week in Miami, the Bills suffered a devistating 30-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins.  Several players refused to leave the field in the forth quarter when coach Marv Levy decided to play back up players.  The media called them the 'Bickering Bills.'  Even Hall-of-Fame reporter OJ Simpson was refused access to the locker room during this time.

Coach Levy formed a players committee to work out differences between players and coaches.  Several meetings in private were held and the team, by mid-season, had a confident swagger to them that was unmatched by any previous team in Bills history.

A Monday Night Football victory over the Jets, in which Thurman Thomas rushed for 214 yards, a come from behind victory over Denver, in which the Bills scored 20 points in 77 seconds, and a 42-0 revenge game against the Cleveland Browns made the Bills look like a team to be reckoned with.  By mid-season the Bills were tied for the AFC East lead at 7-1 with the Dolphins.

They opened the second half of the season with a victory over the then Phoenix Cardinals and a 14-0 shut out of the New England Patriots.  By week 15 they had clinched home field and rested their starters for a 29-14 loss to the Redskins.

Hosting the Dolphins in the first home game of the playoffs, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino put on a classic offensive showdown that featured over 900 yards between the two teams.  The Bills 44-34 victory, against one of the toughest defenses in the league, set up a showdown with the Raiders the next week with the winner earning a trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa.

The Bills opened the game against the Raiders with the no-huddle and did not stop until the score was 41-3 by halftime.  While the offense moved at will the defense had five interceptions and one fumble recovery.  Raiders Quarterback Jay Schroeder looked confused and beaten by games end.

Super Bowl XXV—the silver anniversary of the NFL's showcase game—our country at war in the Persian Gulf and the two teams in the league that make red, white, and blue their primary colors.  This was the dream match-up of the Bills versus the New York Giants

This was a classic battle that I can watch again and again, except for the final seconds.  That is when I turn it off.  It was an amazing game which featured no turnovers and two powerful teams battling it out until the final second.  Many will remember it for being the first of Buffalo's four consecutive Super bowl losses, but I will remember it as being the start of the most exciting era of football Buffalo has ever seen.

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