The four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl were behind them, but Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills under coach Marv Levy had one last hurrah left in them in 1995. Rallying from a 7-9 record the previous season, the 1995 Bills went 10-6 to capture the AFC East title.
That year also marked the last time the Bills won a playoff game. Some 25 years later, the world is a very different place as the Bills enter NFL Week 15 on the cusp of an AFC championship.
The Buffalo Bills are on the verge of an AFC East title
At the risk of jinxing them, there is an inevitability to the 2020 Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen ending a quarter of a century as an also-ran in the AFC East Division. Coach Sean McDermott’s team has three cracks left at wrapping up the division, beginning with an NFL Week 15 Saturday game against Denver. A Bills victory over the Broncos or a Miami Dolphins loss to the New England Dolphins on Sunday does the trick.
The last time the Bills won the division was the last season in Buffalo for linebacker Cornelius Bennett and the next-to-last season for Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Several key teammates were also in the later stages of the careers in Buffalo. Center Kent Hull, tackle Glenn Parker, and receiver Billy Brooks left along with Kelly after 1996, and Bryce Paup and Steve Tasker exited the following year.
Coach Marv Levy retired after the 1997 Bills went 6-10, and McDermott is about to become their first head coach since to make it through four full seasons.
Here’s what else happened in sports in 1995
On March 19, 1995, Michael Jordan made his return to the NBA after a season in minor-league baseball by shooting 7-for-28 and scoring 19 points for the Chicago Bulls in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls would win the NBA title in 1996 to begin the second three-peat of the Jordan era.
To put the Buffalo Bills’ divisional-title drought into further perspective, here are a few other tidbits from the sports world in 1995:
- The San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl 29 on Jan. 29, 1995, by beating the San Diego Chargers. The Niners haven’t won another NFL championship since. The Dallas Cowboys concluded the 1995 season by winning Super Bowl 30; the Cowboys haven’t reached an NFC championship game since.
- Nebraska rolled through the college football season unbeaten for a consensus national championship under Tom Osborne. The Cornhuskers haven’t captured an undisputed national title since.
- The Houston Rockets, coached by Rudy Tomjanovich, swept the Orlando Magic for their second consecutive NBA title. The Rockets haven’t been back to the finals since.
- The Atlanta Braves won the World Series for their most recent championship to date. The season began in late April because of a 232-day labor dispute that caused the 1994 World Series to be canceled.
- The UCLA men won the NCAA Tournament in basketball under Jim Harrick. The Bruins have not won another title since. The UConn women captured the first of their 11 championships, all under Geno Auriemma.
Major news events from the year of the Buffalo Bills’ last division title
Fans might think otherwise at times, but the world does not revolve around sports. There were several huge national and international events that captured the headlines in 1995, the year of the Buffalo Bills’ last AFC East division title. Those events included:
- Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995. The death of his friend would lead NBA team owner Abe Pollin to change the nickname of his Washington franchise from the Bullets to the Wizards.
- A blast at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed at least 168 people, including numerous children, and injured more than 680 others. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would later be convicted in the bombing.
- On Oct. 3, 1995, a jury in Los Angeles acquitted former Buffalo Bills great O.J. Simpson on two counts of murder stemming from the June 1994 slashing deaths of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman.