Were the Jim Kelly Bills a Dynasty?

Though they never won the big one, they still achieved something that has never been done before or since! - Photo via proplayerinsiders.com

Though they never won the big one, they still achieved something that has never been done before or since! – Photo via proplayerinsiders.com

It’s been 15 years since the Bills last made the playoffs or were actually relevant in the NFL. It’s been 21 years since the last Super Bowl appearance and 29 Years since Jim Kelly made his Buffalo debut. I watched a documentary recently and they asked a good question; Are those late 80’s – 90’s Bills team a dynasty? If you are over the age of 30 you probably remember those days like they were yesterday I was 6 and just getting into football in 1988 when the Bills almost made it past the Bengals to go to a Super Bowl. Two years later the Bills would go on a historic run to four consecutive Super Bowls, from 1990 to 1993; A feat that had never happened before or since and never will.

BRUCEE!!!!!! Photo via John Iacono

BRUCEE!!!!!! Photo via John Iacono

Can the Bills be a dynasty by never winning the Super Bowl? Would you give up those four Super Bowl losses for 1 win? For me the answer is HELL NO! It’s been over 25 years since the best team in Buffalo history imbedded itself in my memory banks. So much so I am writing this entire article by memory. Between the ages of 6 and 18 the Bills were consistently one of the top teams in the NFL. Unfortunately the Bills set the bar super high when I became a fan it makes all this losing over the last 15 years so much more painful. I still expect the Bills to be that dominant team from the 1990’s and I have a lot of pride in the fact I can write about them now. I missed out on the 2-14 seasons in the 80s. I missed out on the 20 game losing streak to the Dolphins. I only knew of the greatness and I had such pride knowing the team in the town I lived in was tops in the NFL. When I would play football I couldn’t decide who I wanted to be. Was it Kelly as QB, Reed as WR, Thomas as RB/WR, Smith or Bennett on defense?

The Bill started turning things around when Jim Kelly finally joined the team after 2 years in the USFL. Marv Levy was made coach, Bill Polian the GM and the team began to take off. The Bills were part of a blockbuster trade that included Eric Dickerson changing teams and the Bills getting Cornelius Bennett and giving up some first round picks in 1987. In everywhere else the trade is refered to as the Dickerson trade except here in Buffalo as we call it the Bennett trade. In 1988 the Bills almost made it to the Super Bowl going 12-4 and losing in the AFC Championship game to the Bengals. In 1989 they went 9-7 and lost to the Browns in the playoffs. Even though they lost, that game created the greatest offense of all time; The K-gun. In 1990 the K-gun was unleashed and the Bills went 13-3, stomping the raiders 51-3 in one of the greatest games I have ever seen and faced the Giants in the Super Bowl. We lost on a heart breaking missed field goal. To this day I refuse to punt or kick field goals in video games because I HATE them from that one missed kick.

I loved those teams! Photo by George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

I loved those teams! Photo by George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

The Bills came right back in 1991 going 13-3 again and making it the Super Bowl after beating The Chiefs and Broncos. As a fan I just began to expect we would keep making it to the Super Bowl until we won. 1992 was a different year. The Oilers looked like the team to beat. They spanked us the week before the Playoffs and this year we were a wild card instead of a Division leader with a Bye. We faced the Oilers again the next week at home in what is known as the greatest comeback of all time! We had a ton of injuries to main guys. Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas were out meaning Frank Reich and Kenneth Davis had to carry the team. By the end of the first drive in the 3rd quarter the Bills were down 35-3. The Game wasn’t televised and most of the fans had bailed. It seemed the magic had faded. Then all of a sudden a turn over led to a touchdown and then another and another and before you knew it the game was tied and going into over-time! The Bills pulled out the win and made it to their 3rd straight Super Bowl beating the Steelers and Dolphins. Even though we got spanked by the cowboys even in defeat the Bills still shined as Don Beebe ran almost the entire length of the field to stop Leon Lett from scoring a touchdown. It just showed the heart this team and city has and it’s never give up attitude.

Heartbreak once  again! Photo via westernnewyorkhomes.wordpress.com

Heartbreak once again! Photo via westernnewyorkhomes.wordpress.com

1993 would be the end of that magical 5 year run. We went 12-4 and beat the Joe Montana led Chiefs and Raiders to face the Cowboys yet again. Despite leading at halftime the Bills collapsed and lost their 4th Super Bowl in a row. There wouldn’t make the playoffs in 1994 going 7-9 but they did bounce back in 1995 and 1996 going 10-6 but never making it deep into the playoffs. The team began to break up as Frank Reich left for the jets in 1995 and Jim Kelly retired in 1996. Marv Levy would retire in 1997 and by the end of the 90’s the entire core of the Bills were gone.

So what is the definition of a Dynasty? It’s a family, team, etc. that is very powerful or successful for a long period of time. Nowhere in that definition does it specify “MUST HAVE WON SUPER BOWL”. Were the Bills a team or family that were successful for a long period of time? Absolutely! Look no farther than the hall of fame. Look no farther than team and individual stats. Look no farther than all the fan wall of fames in their homes. When they won we won and when they lost we lost. Where would you rather be than right here right now.

By: Jason Sins

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One Comment on “Were the Jim Kelly Bills a Dynasty?”

  1. buffalogrl25 January 12, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    I’m 25 so unfortunately I can’t remember the Super Bowl days. I do remember some of Marv’s last games and even then knew it was the end of an era. I think we are due to start another one!

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