1981 Playoffs

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Wild Card Round

Sunday December 27, 1981

Buffalo Bills 31, New York Jets 27

1st2nd3rd4thFinal
Buffalo Bills1770731
New York Jets01031427

at Shea Stadium, Flushing, Queens, New York

  • TV: NBC
  • Game Attendance: 57,050

Bills defensive back Bill Simpson's interception at the Buffalo 1-yard line with 2 seconds left in the game preserved a 31-27 victory and gave Buffalo their first playoff win since 1965. The Bills jumped to a 24-0 lead by the second quarter. First New York's Bruce Harper fumbled the opening kickoff while being tackled by Ervin Parker, and Charles Romes returned the ball 26-yards to the end zone. Then after a punt, quarterback Joe Ferguson completed a 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Frank Lewis, while interceptions by Simpson and linebacker Phil Villapiano led to a 29-yard field goal by Nick Mike-Mayer and a 26-yard scoring reception by Lewis. However, Jets quarterback Richard Todd threw a 30-yard touchdown to tight end Mickey Shuler, and kicker Pat Leahy added two field goals to cut Buffalo's lead, 24-13. With about 10 minutes left in the game, running back Joe Cribbs ran for a 45-yard touchdown, increasing the Bills lead to 31-13. But Todd then led the Jets 80 yards in 8 plays and completed a 30-yard touchdown to Bobby Jones. Then after forcing a punt, New York drove for another score, aided by a pass interference call against Bills defensive back Mario Clark that nullified an interception. Kevin Long finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 31-27. The Jets got the ball back with 2:36 remaining and then drove 69 yards to the Buffalo 11-yard line, aided by a holding penalty that wiped out an interception by defensive back Steve Freeman. However, Simpson's interception at the 1-yard line halted New York's comeback with 2 seconds left. Simpson recorded 2 interceptions, while Lewis caught 7 passes for a franchise postseason record 158 yards and 2 touchdowns. Shuler caught 6 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Todd threw for 377 yards, while Ferguson threw for 268. Both quarterbacks threw 2 touchdowns and were intercepted four times.

Scoring 1st quarter

  • BUF - Romes 26 fumble return (Mike-Mayer kick)
  • BUF - Lewis 50 pass from Ferguson (Mike-Mayer kick)
  • BUF - FG Mike-Mayer 29

2nd quarter

  • BUF - Lewis 26 pass from Ferguson (Mike-Mayer kick)
  • NYJ - Shuler 30 pass from Todd (Leahy kick)
  • NYJ - FG Leahy 26

3rd quarter

  • NYJ - FG Leahy 19

4th quarter

  • BUF - Cribbs 45 run (Mike-Mayer kick)
  • NYJ - Jones 30 pass from Todd (Leahy kick)
  • NYJ - Long 1 run (Leahy kick)
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