1963 Buffalo Bills season

1963 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Lou Saban
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field War Memorial Stadium
Record 7–6–1
Division place 2nd AFL Eastern (playoff)
Playoff finish Lost Divisional Playoff
(Boston Patriots, 26–8)

The 1963 Buffalo Bills season was the team’s fourth season in the American Football League. Winless after their first four games, Buffalo won seven of the final ten games, including the final two over the New York Jets, to finish with their second-consecutive 7–6–1 record, tied with the Boston Patriots atop the Eastern division. In this era, this required a tiebreaker playoff, the AFL's first.[1][2] The Patriots and Bills had split their season series, each team winning at home, and the Bills were slight favorites as playoff hosts.[2]

The playoff game on December 28 was played on a snowy field at War Memorial Stadium and Boston won 26–8, ending Buffalo's season.[3][4]



1963 Buffalo Bills staff

Front Office

Head Coach

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Season summary

The Bills were favored by many to win the AFL's Eastern division before the season,[5] but for the second consecutive season, the Bills had a terrible start to the year, winless in their first four games, with an 0–3–1 record. The Bills rallied to win five of their next six games before going 2–2 in the final four weeks.

Quarterback Jack Kemp was the opening day starter for the first time after an abbreviated 1962 season. By Week Four, however, he was splitting time with rookie Daryle Lamonica.[6] During the middle of the Bills' season (other than two Lamonica starts in Weeks 13 and 14), Kemp established himself as the team's leader and full-time passer. Kemp was conservative, but effective, with only 5.2% of his passes being intercepted.

Wide receivers Elbert Dubenion (53 catches for 959 yards) and Bill Miller (69 for 860) were Kemp's biggest targets in 1963,[6] with Cookie Gilchrist leading the team with 979 rushing yards, third in the league. Gilchrist's 12 rushing touchdowns led the AFL, as did his 256 total touches.[6] Gilchrist set a then-record for yards in a game, with 243 in a blowout win against the Jets in Week Fourteen.

Halfback Wray Carlton was sidelined for most of the season with an injury, forcing Gilchrist to shoulder most of the load.[7]

Going into the final week of the season, the Bills were 6–5–1, whereas the division-leading Patriots were 7–5–1: a Patriots win or a Bills loss would eliminate them. Instead, the Patriots were blown out 35–3 at defending champion Kansas City, and the Bills rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat the Jets in the final sporting event played at the Polo Grounds. The Bills and Patriots, now both 7–6–1, had to play a tiebreaker playoff to determine who would face the Western Division champion Chargers (11–3) in the AFL championship game.[1][2]

On a freezing day and snowy field in Buffalo, the Bills trailed 16–0 at halftime. Buffalo's only score was a 93-yard pass from Daryle Lamonica to Elbert Dubenion in the third quarter, with a successful two-point conversion to cut the lead in half. The Patriots tacked on another ten unanswered points to win 26–8, and advanced to the AFL championship game against the San Diego Chargers (11–3) of the Western division, who had the week off.[3][4] (Boston was demolished by San Diego, 51–10).


AFL draft

Season schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Attendance
1 September 8 at San Diego Chargers L 14–10 0–1–0
2 September 15 at Oakland Raiders L 35–17 0–2–0
3 September 22 Kansas City Chiefs T 27–27 0–2–1
4 September 28 Houston Oilers L 31–20 0–3–1
5 October 5 Oakland Raiders W 12–0 1–3–1
6 October 13 at Kansas City Chiefs W 35–26 2–3–1
7 October 20 at Houston Oilers L 28–14 2–4–1
8 October 26 Boston Patriots W 28–21 3–4–1
9 November 3 at Denver Broncos W 30–28 4–4–1
10 November 9 Denver Broncos W 27–17 5–4–1
11 November 17 San Diego Chargers L 23–13 5–5–1
November 24
AFL games postponed to December 1 & 22
12 December 1 at Boston Patriots L 17–7 5–6–1
13 December 8 New York Jets W 45–14 6–6–1
14 December 14 at New York Jets W 19–10 7–6–1
15 December 22
Bye week, (originally December 1)


AFL Eastern Division
Boston Patriots 761.5384–2327257L1
Buffalo Bills 761.5383–3304291W2
Houston Oilers 680.4293–3302372L4
New York Jets 581.3852–4249399L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Division December 28, 1963 Boston Patriots L 26–8 War Memorial Stadium


Buffalo Bills roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Defensive Backs

Special Teams


  1. 1 2 "AFL has title tie, may get another". Milwaukee Journal. UPI. December 16, 1963. p. 17, part 2.
  2. 1 2 3 "Bills, Patriots play for title". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. December 28, 1963. p. 7.
  3. 1 2 "Boston beats Bills for division crown". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. December 29, 1963. p. 1, sports.
  4. 1 2 "Parilli passes Patriots past Buffalo, 26-8". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. December 29, 1963. p. 1, section 4.
  5. [Neft, David S.; Cohen, Richard M.; and Korch, Rich The Sports Encyclopedia: Pro Football, 12th Edition, page 66, Martin's Press, August 1994, ISBN 0-312-11073-1
  6. 1 2 3 Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1963 Buffalo Bills
  7. Neft 1994
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