The summer weather is finally here for good in Western New York, but most Bills fans relish the times when frigid temperatures play a factor in a Sunday home game during the season. If you’re a transplanted Bills fan down south or out west and you need some relief from the recent heat gripping most of the country, hopefully the countdown of the coldest games in team history will cool you off a bit.
We compiled the 10 coldest contests in descending order. In the event of a tie temperature-wise we used the wind chill as a tiebreaker. Buffalonians are all too familiar with the term “real feel” when talking about how cold it is come the winter.
10. Dec. 15th 1985 – at Pittsburgh, 22 degrees, wind chill of 6
It was far from a star-studded matchup as Bills QB Bruce Mathison squared off against Steelers’ signal caller Scott Campbell. With snow flurries in the forecast, both teams got good performances on the ground.
Greg Bell’s 77-yard touchdown run opened the scoring and Buffalo would tack on two more touchdowns to stake Buffalo to a 21-0 first half lead. But the Steelers would outscore the Bills 30-3 the rest of the way en route to a 30-24 victory in Buffalo’s second straight 2-14 season.
9. Dec. 3rd 1978 – at Kansas City, 21 degrees, wind chill of 7
Snow flurries convinced the Chiefs to keep their offense on the ground and they had great success against the Bills run defense rolling up over 240 yards rushing.
Bills wideout Frank Lewis had a huge day with 126 yards receiving on seven catches including a 40-yard touchdown, but Buffalo couldn’t make a slim 10-7 third quarter lead stand up.
Chiefs tight end Walter White pulled in a three-yard touchdown pass from Mike Livingston late in the third quarter for the game-winning points in a 14-10 final.
8. Dec. 20th 1975 – vs. Minnesota, 21 degrees, wind chill of 7
Fifteen mile per hour winds and snow didn’t seem to slow Minnesota’s offense very much at what was then called Rich Stadium. The Vikings, who would just miss advancing to the NFC Championship game that season, sprinted out to a commanding 21-0 lead in the first half.
Despite O.J. Simpson’s best efforts, which included a 24-yard touchdown run and a 64-yard touchdown catch late, Minnesota won going away 35-13.
7. Dec. 19th, 2004 – at Cincinnati, 19 degrees, wind chill of 4
The kickoff temperature of 19 was the high for the game as 22 mile per hour winds had the mercury dropping throughout the game, but Buffalo’s special teams was hot in this one.
Rookie big man Jason Peters blocked a Cincinnati punt late in the first quarter and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown to break a 7-7 tie and Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes made his former team pay with a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown.
6. Dec. 21st 2008 – at Denver, 17 degrees, wind chill of 7
Replacing injured starter Marshawn Lynch early in the second half,
After falling behind early 13-0 Buffalo clawed their way back into the game thanks in part to a fumble recovery by
Late in the game an interception by Kawika Mitchell at the Bills one-yard line preserved a seven-point Bills lead with five minutes remaining. The Broncos still had a chance to win at the end as they rolled up over 500 yards of offense (532), but Corner broke up a 4th-and-5 five pass to the end zone from the Bills 15-yard line to cement the victory (30-23).
Ironically, the Bills were forced to spend Sunday night in Denver, as winter weather back home prevented them from traveling back to Buffalo after the game.
5. Dec. 23rd 1989 – at N.Y. Jets, 16 degrees, wind chill of minus-11
The Bills felt right at home in the blustery Meadowlands as Buffalo’s offense had it in cruise control and the defense had the hapless Jets stymied from start to finish.
Buffalo’s defense held the Jets to just 54 yards rushing with Cornelius Bennett and Bruce Smith both logging a pair of sacks. Bennett also had an interception.
Fullback Larry Kinnebrew had a big day with 91 yards rushing and a touchdown, with Thurman Thomas and Kenny Davis combining for another 106 rushing yards and two scores en route to a 37-0 whitewash of the Jets.
With the win Buffalo clinched the AFC East title.
4. Jan. 3rd 2010 – vs. Indianapolis, 12 degrees, wind chill of minus-2
It was the final regular season game of the 2009 season and the playoff-bound Colts weren’t going to play their starters for long. With the snow flying and Fred Jackson seeking his first career 1,000-yard rushing season, Indianapolis didn’t appear as though they wanted to be at the game in the first place.
Jackson rushed for a career-high 212 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau on the season, while
Buffalo entered the game with the league’s worst ranked run defense, but held the Colts to just 25 yards on the ground and did not allow Indianapolis any further than the Bills 42-yard line in the second half in a 30-7 rout.
3. Dec. 11th, 1988 – vs. L.A. Raiders, 11 degrees, wind chill of minus-14
On a gray, windy day in Buffalo the rushing tandem of Rob Riddick and Thurman Thomas was too much for the Raiders. The pair combined for 150 of the team’s 255 rushing yards and three touchdowns vaulting the Bills to a 27-7 third quarter lead.
The Raiders could only close the gap to 14 points in the second half as Butch Rolle’s two-yard touchdown catch from Jim Kelly put the game out of reach in a 37-21 final. Buffalo locked up the AFC East title weeks before, their first since 1980.
2. Dec. 26th 1993 – vs. N.Y. Jets, 9 degrees, wind chill of minus-28
It was a tightly contested back and forth game in the bitter cold of Orchard Park. Jim Kelly led a 10-play 71-yard drive to open the game that was capped by a two-yard Thurman Thomas touchdown run. The Jets answered with a touchdown drive of their own with a 24-yard TD pass from Boomer Esiason to Johnny Johnson to tie it late in the first quarter (7-7).
From there three Buffalo turnovers helped keep the game close for New York as they posted a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery. Former Bills receiver Chris Burkett gave the Jets their only lead of the game in the third quarter on a six-yard touchdown catch from Esiason (14-13).
Steve Christie’s third field goal of the day however, would prove to be the winning points as he hit from 40 yards away with 3:48 left. Cary Blanchard had a shot to win it for the Jets with under a minute to play, but missed a 42-yard attempt to give the Bills a 16-14 victory and their fifth AFC East title in six years.
1. Jan. 15th 1994 – vs. L.A. Raiders, 0 degrees, wind chill of minus-32
The AFC Divisional playoff certainly appeared to represent a home field advantage for the Bills as bone chilling temperatures had Rich Stadium in a frigid grip. The Raiders however, jumped out to a 17-6 lead at the two-minute warning of the first half thanks in large part to a pair of Napolean Kaufman touchdowns runs.
Buffalo was able to close the gap before halftime staging a four-play 76-yard drive capped by a Thurman Thomas 8-yard scoring run to make it 17-13.
From there Jim Kelly took over as the Bills lost both Pete Metzelaars (dislocated finger) and Thomas (concussion) in the third quarter. The Hall of Famer, who was 27-37 for 287 yards, spread the ball around in the second half with Bills Brooks as his main target. Brooks made six catches for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns including the game winner with 12:08 left to send the Bills to their fourth straight AFC Championship game with a 29-23 win.