1996 Buffalo Bills season

1996 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Marv Levy
General manager John Butler
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Rich Stadium
Record 10–6
Division place 2nd AFC East
Playoff finish Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Jaguars) 27–30

The 1996 Buffalo Bills season was their 37th in the league. The team matched their previous season's record of 10–6[1] and qualified for the playoffs, for the second consecutive season and eighth time in nine seasons. It was the final season for All-Pro QB Jim Kelly as he retired after the Playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.


NFL Draft

Main article: 1996 NFL Draft

Mississippi Statewide receiver Eric Moulds went on to be the second-leading receiver in Bills history (behind only Andre Reed), with 675 catches for 9,096 yards. He was elected to three Pro Bowls, in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

= Pro Bowler [2]
Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team
1 24 Eric Moulds Wide Receiver Mississippi State
2 53 Gabe Northern Defensive end LSU
3 87 Matt Stevens Strong safety Appalachian State
4 120 Sean Moran Defensive end Colorado State
5 156 Ray Jackson Defensive back Colorado State
6 196 Leon Neal Running back Washington
6 202 Dusty Zeigler Center Notre Dame
7 237 Dan Bradenburg Defensive end Indiana State
7 244 Jay Riemersma Tight end Michigan
7 249 Eric Smedley Defensive back Indiana

Preseason Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance Venue
1 August 2, 1996 Washington Redskins L 7–17
Rich Stadium
2 August 8, 1996 at Minnesota Vikings W 35–12
3 August 17, 1996 at Carolina Panthers W 24–0
Ericsson Stadium
4 August 23, 1996 Baltimore Ravens L 14–37
Rich Stadium

Regular Season Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Network TV Time (ET) Attendance Notes
1 September 1, 1996 at New York Giants W 23–20 (OT) TNT 8:00pm
Bills erased 20–7 Giants lead
2 September 8, 1996 New England Patriots W 17–10 NBC 1:00pm
Bills won on last-second goal line stand
3 September 16, 1996 at Pittsburgh Steelers L 24–6 ABC 9:00pm
Three Steelers backs rushed for 231 yards
4 September 22, 1996 Dallas Cowboys W 10–7 FOX 4:00pm
Troy Aikman intercepted in final minute
5 Bye
6 October 6, 1996 Indianapolis Colts W 16–13 NBC 4:00pm
Bills put up 422 yards of offense
7 October 13, 1996 Miami Dolphins L 21–7 NBC 1:00pm
Dan Marino did not play; Terrell Buckley pick-six in final minutes
8 October 20, 1996 at New York Jets W 25–22 NBC 4:00pm
Bills outscored Jets 16–7 in fourth quarter
9 October 27, 1996 at New England Patriots L 28–25 TNT 8:00pm
Teams combined for three touchdowns in final 85 seconds
10 November 3, 1996 Washington Redskins W 38–13 FOX 4:00pm
First Redskins loss since Week One
11 November 10, 1996 at Philadelphia Eagles W 24–17 NBC 1:00pm
12 November 17, 1996 Cincinnati Bengals W 31–17 NBC 1:00pm
Bills intercepted Bengals quarterbacks four times
13 November 24, 1996 New York Jets W 35–10 NBC 1:00pm
Frank Reich had one touchdown for Jets; Eric Moulds ran back ensuing kick for touchdown
14 December 1, 1996 at Indianapolis Colts L 13–10 NBC 1:00pm
Loss ended four-game win streak
15 December 8, 1996 at Seattle Seahawks L 26–18 NBC 4:00pm
Seahawks won despite being limited to ten first downs
16 December 16, 1996 at Miami Dolphins L 16–14 ABC 9:00pm
Dolphins ended three-game losing streak
17 December 22, 1996 Kansas City Chiefs W 20–9 NBC 1:00pm
Bills made the playoffs; Chiefs failed to make playoffs for first time in the decade

Game summaries

Week 1

1 234OTTotal
Bills 0 71033 23
Giants 3 14300 20


Week 2

The Bills upended the Patriots 17–10. Quinn Early caught a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for Buffalo, then the Bills stopped the Patriots inside their five-yard line in the final seconds.

Week 3

The Bills' first Monday Night appearance ended in ugly fashion as the Steelers erupted to more rushing yards (222 with two touchdowns from ex-Ram Jerome Bettis) than the Bills had total yards of offense (185). Carnell Lake picked off Jim Kelly and ran back a 47-yard score, part of a 24–6 Steelers win.

Week 4

The Bills hosted the defending Super Bowl champs who were 1–2 and fell to 1–3 as Buffalo rushed for 135 yards and a Thurman Thomas score while intercepting Troy Aikman three times; the last came in the final minute, and Aikman was tackled awkwardly by Bruce Smith, necessitating a Monday examination of his ankle.

Week 5

Bye week

Week 6

The Bills hosted the Colts and clawed to a 10-3 lead in the second behind Todd Collins. Marshall Faulk's touchdown in the fourth tied the game; an exchange of field goals put the game into overtime tied 13-13 where Steve Christie won it from 39 yards out.

Week 7

Craig Erickson started for Dan Marino and the Dolphins led 14–7 late in the fourth on scores by Irving Spikes and Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Kelly completed a deep pass to Andre Reed and Reed was stopped at the 1-yard line by Terrell Buckley; the Dolphins held the Bills on the first three downs and Kelly was flagged for intentional grounding, forcing 4th and goal from the 11; Kelly's pass was picked off by Buckley at the 9 and Buckley ran back a 91-yard score. Reacting to fan booing after the 21–7 loss, a disconsolate Kelly said, "We deserved to be booed."

Week 8

The Bills traveled to face the 0–7 New York Jets and kicker Steve Christie had a major workload as he booted five field goals to support a Darick Holmes score and to offset three touchdowns by ex-Bill Frank Reich (two to Keyshawn Johnson, one to Wayne Chrebet) and a two-point conversion to Kyle Brady. Christie's sixth field goal finished off a 25–22 Bills win.

Week 9

On Sunday Night the Bills traveled to Foxboro Stadium and the ensuing game left them tied with the Patriots and Colts for the AFC East lead at 5–3. After trailing 13–0 the Bills clawed back despite a safety given up on an endzone penalty against Jim Kelly; the Bills led 18–15 in the fourth. With 1:25 to go Curtis Martin scored but Adam Vinatieri missed the PAT. Kelly was then intercepted by Willie McGinest and McGinest ran back a 46-yard score, but the Bills on a 48-yard score to Andre Reed pulled to within 28–25 with 30 seconds left; the ensuing onside kick was recovered by ex-Dolphin recently signed by the Patriots Keith Byars.

Week 10

The Bills hosted the Washington Redskins and Darick Holmes had the game of his career as the Bills rushed for 266 yards (outgaining the entirety of the Skins offense by 28 yards) and five scores, four of them by Holmes. The Bills reached 6–3 with the 38–13 win while the Skins' seven-game winning streak crashed to a halt.

Week 11

The Bills finished the NFC East portion of their schedule by upending the Eagles 24–17. Despite being outgained in total yards (385 to 252) the Bills forced two Eagles fumbles and also scored on a blocked punt.

Week 12

The 4-6 Bengals came to Rich Stadium on a three-game winning streak after the firing of David Shula and promotion of Bruce Coslet to head coach. The Bills didn't care as they rushed for 134 yards and touchdowns from Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas; the Bills led 31-7 in the fourth as the Bengals scored ten points, but could get no further as Buffalo won 31-17.

Week 13

The Bills hosted the 1–11 Jets and erupted to a 28–3 lead by the fourth quarter; after a Frank Reich touchdown to Jeff Graham the Bills scored again on Eric Moulds' 97-yard kickoff return. The 35–10 win left the Bills at 9–3 entering a three-game road trip.

Week 14

Starting a three-game road trip, the Bills traveled to Indianapolis where despite 307 yards of offense fell to the Colts 13-10 in overtime. Todd Collins started and was intercepted twice as the Colts forced overtime and won on Cary Blanchard's 49-yard field goal.

Week 15

The Bills traveled to the Kingdome where Seahawks kicker Todd Peterson booted four field goals while Kelly and Todd Collins combined for two touchdowns and three interceptions. Buffalo's five turnovers were key as Rick Mirer won 26-18 despite only nine completions of 23 attempts.

Week 16

On Monday Night Football Buffalo's three-game road trip came up empty as the Bills fell to the Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium. Joe Nedney booted three field goals and Dan Marino had one touchdown. Jim Kelly had two scores but was picked off once. I was the first time the Bills had been swept by the Dolphins since 1986.

Week 17

The Bills hosted the Chiefs with both teams needing the win to make the playoffs. Steve Bono was harassed all game long and held to just 138 yards with two picks. Jim Kelly rallied the Bills from down 9-6 with two touchdowns. The 20-9 win put the Bills into the playoffs as the AFC Wildcard home team while the Chiefs failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in the decade; it was Kansas City's fourth loss in the last five meetings with Buffalo.


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wild Card December 28, 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars L 30–27

The first ever playoff game for the second-year Jaguars saw the game lead tie or change nine times. Natrone Means rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown while Mark Brunell threw for 239 yards, a score, and two interceptions; in the fourth Jeff Burris ran back a 38-yard score off a Brunell pick. The Jaguars rallied with two fourth-quarter scoring drives ending in a 45-yard field goal from future Bills kicker Mike Hollis. The game turned out to be the last home playoff game for the Bills entering 2015.


AFC East
(2) New England Patriots 11 5 0 .688 418 313 W1
(4) Buffalo Bills 10 6 0 .625 319 266 W1
(6) Indianapolis Colts 9 7 0 .563 317 334 L1
Miami Dolphins 8 8 0 .500 339 325 W2
New York Jets 1 15 0 .063 279 454 L7


  1. 1996 Buffalo Bills
  2. Players are identified as a Pro Bowler if they were selected for the Pro-Bowl at any time in their career.
  3. Pro-Football-Reference.com
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