1998 Buffalo Bills season

1998 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Wade Phillips
General manager John Butler
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field Ralph Wilson Stadium
Record 10–6
Division place 3rd AFC East
Playoff finish Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Dolphins) 17–24

The 1998 Buffalo Bills season was the team's 39th season, and 29th in the National Football League.[1] The season marked an important development in the Bills’ history as a quarterback controversy would consume the whole season between Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie. It would also mark the beginning of the Wade Phillips era. The Bills improved on the previous season's output of 6–10, and finished second in the AFC East with a 10–6 record,[2] and would qualify for the playoffs only to lose in the wild card round to the Miami Dolphins.

The Bills lost their first three games of the season, all by six points or less, and looked to be headed for a losing season. After a bye in Week Four, quarterback Rob Johnson finally won his first game with Buffalo, holding on for a 26–20 win over San Francisco in Week Five. Flutie started the next eleven games, winning nine of them. The Bills had a playoff spot locked up by the final game of the season, which Johnson started and won.

The Bills played the Dolphins in the Wild Card round of the 1998 AFC Playoffs, where wide receiver Eric Moulds would set the NFL playoff record for receiving yards, with 240. The Bills would end up losing the game 24 - 17, as Dolphins lineman Trace Armstrong sacked Flutie on Buffalo's last drive, forcing him to fumble, and icing the game for Miami.


The Bills, looking to upgrade the quarterback position, signed Rob Johnson, who had played for Jacksonville in 1997, and improved his stock with a win in relief of Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. Bills general manager John Butler traded away the Bills' first- and fourth-round picks to Jacksonville for the rights to Johnson.

The Bills also signed long-time CFL quarterback Doug Flutie to back up Johnson; Flutie would end the 1998 season with the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

NFL Draft

Main article: 1998 NFL Draft
= Pro Bowler [3]
Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team
2 39 Sam Cowart[4] Middle linebacker Florida State
3 68 Robert Hicks Offensive tackle Mississippi State
5 131 Jonathan Linton Fullback North Carolina
6 160 Fred Coleman Wide receiver Washington
7 198 Victor Allotey Offensive guard Indiana
7 238 Kamil Loud Wide receiver Cal-Poly SLO



1998 Buffalo Bills staff
Front office

Head coaches

  • Head Coach – Wade Phillips
  • Assistant to the Head Coach – Max Bowman

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

Strength and conditioning


Regular season

The opening game for 1998 constituted the first time since 1985 that the Bills played the San Diego Chargers.[6] The reason for this is that before the admission of the Texans in 2002, NFL scheduling formulas for games outside a team’s division were much more influenced by table position during the previous season.[7]


Week Date TV Time Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1998 CBS 4:00 pm ET at San Diego Chargers L 16–14
2 September 13, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET at Miami Dolphins L 13–7
3 September 20, 1998 FOX 1:00 pm ET St. Louis Rams L 34–33
4 Bye
5 October 4, 1998 FOX 1:00 pm ET San Francisco 49ers W 26–21
6 October 11, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET at Indianapolis Colts W 31–24
7 October 18, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET Jacksonville Jaguars W 17–16
8 October 25, 1998 ESPN 8:15 pm ET at Carolina Panthers W 30–14
9 November 1, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET Miami Dolphins W 30–24
10 November 8, 1998 CBS 4:15 pm ET at New York Jets L 34–12
11 November 15, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET New England Patriots W 13–10
12 November 22, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET Indianapolis Colts W 34–11
13 November 29, 1998 CBS 4:15 pm ET at New England Patriots L 25–21*
14 December 6, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET at Cincinnati Bengals W 33–20
15 December 13, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET Oakland Raiders W 44–21
16 December 19, 1998 CBS 12:30 pm ET New York Jets L 17–10
17 December 27, 1998 CBS 1:00 pm ET at New Orleans Saints W 45–33

Game summaries

Week 8

1 234Total
Bills 10 7103 30
Panthers 0 707 14



AFC East
(2) New York Jets 1240.750416266W6
(4) Miami Dolphins 1060.625321265L1
(5) Buffalo Bills 1060.625400333W1
(6) New England Patriots 970.563337329L1
Indianapolis Colts 3130.188310444L2


AFC: Miami Dolphins 24, Buffalo Bills 17

1 2 34Total
Bills 0 7 7317
Dolphins 3 3 81024

at Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida

Awards and honors


  1. "1998 Buffalo Bills Starters, Roster, & Players - Pro-Football-Reference.com". www.pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
  2. "Buffalo Bills". www.buffalobills.com. Archived from the original on September 18, 2004. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
  3. Players are identified as a Pro Bowler if they were selected for the Pro-Bowl at any time in their career.
  4. elected to Pro Bowl in 2000
  5. 1998 Buffalo Bills Media Guide.
  6. Buffalo Bills v San Diego Chargers
  7. History of the NFL’s Structure and Formats
  8. Pro-Football-Reference.com
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