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This Day in Bills History, Sept. 11: First game ever is also first loss ever

Sept. 11, 1960 – It’s said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The Bills’ first-ever game that counted in the standings was memorable for being dreary.

The Bills lost to the Titans by a score of 27-3 in New York’s Polo Grounds – the home of baseball's New York Giants before that team moved to San Francisco. Buffalo took the lead first on a 35-yard field goal by Darrell Harper. It was downhill from there.

The statistics reflect the ugly nature of the game. New York had a 20-9 edge in first downs. Quarterback Bob Brodhead was 3 of 13 for 15 yards, while Tom O’Connell wasn’t much better at 2 for 20 for 37 yards. Elbert Dubenion, one of the few memorable players from the roster of that first Bills' team, caught one pass for 22 yards. The team finished with 113 yards in total offense to go with three turnovers.

Harper, by the way, only lasted four games with the Bills. He finished with two field goals on three attempts for his career.

The Bills stayed under .500 for the rest of 1960. They finished 5-8-1, as four different quarterbacks started games in a long season. That wasn't the worst record in the AFL East, a distinction that belonged to the Boston Patriots (5-9).

Budd Bailey is a retired sports reporter and editor at The Buffalo News. He is also the author of "Today in Buffalo Sports History." Learn more about the book here.

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