Norwood victimizes the Pats


In this new weekly column, Cameron Boon will take the new sensation of Throwback Thursday for a Bills twist, as he looks back on a game or event that happened on this date in Bills history. It will help some of the older fans relive the glory days and some of the newer fans learn some Bills history.

It was week 8 of the 1988 season, and the Buffalo Bills welcomed their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots, to Rich Stadium. Playing in front of a crowd of 76,824 on a Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, NY, the Bills were sitting pretty atop their division at 6-1, and the Doug Flutie-led Patriots were at 3-4 coming into the matchup. The Bills were two and a half games ahead of the New York Jets, who were at 3-3-1 coming into the last week of the first half of the season.

Notable players on this Pats team included Flutie, who would become the Bills’ quarterback in 1998. John Stephens ran for 1168 yards and four touchdowns that season, and wideouts Irving Fryar and Stanley Morgan combined for 992 yards and nine touchdowns.

For the Bills, Bruce Smith, Shane Conlan, Cornelius Bennett and Scott Norwood were all named to the NFL’s All-Pro first team, while Kent Hull and Nate Odomes were named to the second team.

Earlier in the year, Norwood stopped an 11-game losing streak to the Patriots with a 41-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to defeat the Pats 16-14 at Sullivan Stadium in Week 3.

In this one, Norwood would victimize the Pats again. This time it was a kick from 33 yards away with 13 seconds left to give the Bills a 23-20 victory.

It was a big day on the ground that powered Buffalo, as six different Bills players carried the football for plus yardage, including a 20-carry, 84-yard effort by Thurman Thomas. Andre Reed had a carry for 36 yards in the game, Jim Kelly carried the ball three times for 27 yards, and Carl Byrum, Ronnie Harmon, and Robb Riddick also contributed to the dominant ground effort. 

Seven different players caught a pass from Kelly in the game, but only Johnson had multiple.

Kelly only had to pass the ball 12 times to garner 165 yards, and Trumaine Johnson had the bulk of that yardage, catching six balls for 132 yards.

Flutie hit Fryar from 12 yards out for the first score of the game, giving the Pats a 7-0 advantage. Riddick evened the score when he pounded it home from one yard out to tie the score at seven through one quarter of play.

Two Norwood field goals would be all of the scoring for the Bills in the second, as he put the ball through the uprights from 30 and 35 yards out to give the Bills 13 points to finish out the half. The second of the field goals tied the game, as Stephens ran a touchdown in from 11 yards out after the first Norwood kick to give the Pats a 13-10 lead.

Stephens finished the day carrying the ball 25 times for 134 yards and that touchdown as he did all he could to keep the Pats in the game on that chilly October day.

The only score in the third came from Pete Metzelaars on his only catch of the game, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to give the Bills the lead. 

But the Bills had just ruined the Pats’ 11-game winning streak against them earlier in the year. They were not going down without a fight, and they didn’t. Bob Perryman pounded in a touchdown from just one yard out, and this time Teddy Garcia made the extra point to tie the game at 20.

Kelly then did what he does best, and that is lead his team down the field to victory. He set up Norwood’s winner with just 13 ticks left to give the Bills a 7-1 record on the season.

Seven different players caught a pass from Kelly in the game, but only Johnson had multiple.

The Bills would go on to play in the playoffs in 1988, defeating the Houston Oilers at home 17-10. They then lost one step short of the Super Bowl, 21-10 in Cincinnati against the Bengals.

Next: Last TBT: 1989 Monday Night Thriller