1961 Buffalo Bills season

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1961 Buffalo Bills season
Head coach Buster Ramsey
Owner Ralph Wilson
Home field War Memorial Stadium
Division place4th Eastern
Playoff finishDid not qualify

The 1961 Buffalo Bills season was the team's second year in the American Football League. The Bills played in the Eastern division, winning six games, losing eight, and missing the postseason.


The Bills didn't have a winning record at any point in the season; they played their final five games of the season on the road.

Season summary

The Bills had a problematic quarterback situation, with former Redskin M.C. Reynolds, second-year Bills QB Johnny Green and ex-Lion Warren Rabb all struggling at the passer position. None completed more than 46% of their passes, and only Reynolds had a winning record (2–1) and threw for more than 1,000 yards. [1]

Punter Billy Atkins led the league in punts, with 85; he also led the league with 44.5 yards per punt. Atkins also played safety for the Bills in 1961, and led the league with 10 interceptions, and was 2nd-Team All-AFL on defense. [2]

Middle linebacker Archie Matsos was 1st-Team All-AFL for the second consecutive year, as was defensive tackle Chuck McMurtry. Defensive tackle LaVerne Torczon was 2nd-Team All-AFL in 1961. [3]




1961 Buffalo Bills staff

Front Office

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

Final roster

1961 Buffalo Bills roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

*Note:Rookies in italics

AFL Draft

The Bills amassed a great deal of talent on their offensive line in the 1961 draft. Four of their first seven picks—Rice, Shaw, Barber and Bemiller, all offensive linemen—would go on to make at least one All-AFL team in the next five years. This draft would form the nucleus for the Bills' power running game over the next five years.

Rice was All-AFL as a rookie in 1961.

= All-AFL [4]
1 Ken Rice [5] TackleAuburn
2 Billy Shaw [6] TackleGeorgia Tech
3 Art Baker Fullback Syracuse (from New York)
3 Tom Gilburg TackleSyracuse
4 Stew Barber [7] Tackle Penn State
5 Norm Snead* [8] Quarterback Wake Forest
6Fred BrownHalfbackGeorgia
7 Albert Bemiller [9] CenterSyracuse
8Charles LinningTackle Miami
9William MajorsHalfback Tennessee
10Don KernHalfback VMI
11Roy WallHalfbackNorth Carolina
12Floyd PowersGuardMississippi State
13Tom CauseyOffensive end Louisiana Tech
14 Ron Kostelnik* [10] Tackle Cincinnati
15Jerry FryeOffensive end South Carolina
16Vincent ScottOffensive end Maryland
17Wayne WolffTackleWake Forest
18John BodkinGuardSouth Carolina
19 Charley Barnes Offensive endNE Louisiana State
20Everett CloudHalfbackMaryland
21Larry VargoOffensive end Detroit
22Charles BakerTackleTennessee
23William MackHalfbackNotre Dame
24Frank JackunasCenterDetroit
25 Jack Harbaugh Halfback Bowling Green
26Lorenzo StanfordTackleNorth Carolina A & I
27Bob AllenOffensive endWake Forest
28Jason HarnessOffensive end Michigan State
29Mike StockHalfback Northwestern
30 William Martin Halfback Minnesota


AFL Eastern Division
Houston Oilers 1031.7694–1–1513242W9
Boston Patriots 941.6922–3–1413313W4
New York Titans 770.5003–3301390L2
Buffalo Bills 680.4292–4294342L1

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

Game-by-game results

The 1961 preseason was notable for the Bills as they became the only AFL (or NFL) team to lose to a CFL team, and it was the last game between the CFL and AFL/NFL met in history. [11]


August 8, 1961 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL)L 38–21 [12] Ivor Wynne Stadium 12,000

Regular season

1September 10, 1961 Denver Broncos L 22–10 War Memorial Stadium 0–1
2September 17, 1961 New York Titans W 41–31 War Memorial Stadium 1–1
3September 23, 1961 Boston Patriots L 23–21 War Memorial Stadium 1–2
4September 30, 1961 San Diego Chargers L 19–11 War Memorial Stadium 1–3
5October 8, 1961at Houston Oilers W 22–12 Jeppesen Stadium 2–3
6October 15, 1961 Dallas Texans W 27–24 War Memorial Stadium 3–3
7October 22, 1961at Boston PatriotsL 52–21 Boston University Field 3–4
8October 29, 1961Houston OilersL 28–16 War Memorial Stadium 3–5
9November 5, 1961 Oakland Raiders L 31–22 War Memorial Stadium 3–6
10November 12, 1961at Dallas TexansW 30–20 Cotton Bowl 4–6
11November 19, 1961at Denver BroncosW 23–10 Bears Stadium 5–6
12November 23, 1961at New York TitansL 21–14 Polo Grounds 5–7
13December 3, 1961at Oakland RaidersW 26–21 Candlestick Park 6–7
14December 10, 1961at San Diego ChargersL 28–10 Balboa Stadium 6–8

Final roster

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  1. Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 Buffalo Bills
  2. Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 AFL Leaders and Leaderboards
  3. Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1961 AFL Pro Bowlers
  4. Players are identified as All-AFL if they were selected to the All-AFL at any time in their career.
  5. All-AFL 1961
  6. 8x AFL All-Star
  7. 5x AFL All-Star
  8. 4x NFL Pro Bowler for Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants
  9. 1965 AFL All-Star
  10. Inducted into Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (NFL) in 1989
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN   0-7611-2480-2, p. 369