Sept. 27, 1970 – The American Football League and National Football League had fully merged by the time the 1970 season rolled in. That meant for the first time ever, the Buffalo Bills would get to play some NFL teams in games that counted.
The schedule-maker didn't do the Bills any favors in their first AFL-NFL matchup. The Los Angeles Rams came to town.
The Rams had plenty of talent in that era under legendary coach George Allen. Roman Gabriel was the quarterback, and he was something of the Ben Roethlisberger of his time in terms of power. The rest of the roster was littered with stars such as Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Tom Mack, Bob Brown, Jack Pardee and Richie Petitbon.
The Bills were in a rebuilding phase at that point. Their biggest addition was Al Cowlings, a defensive end who played with O.J. Simpson at Southern California.
The Rams didn't knock the Bills into Lake Erie, but they certainly controlled play. They took a 19-0 win in War Memorial Stadium. Rookie quarterback Dennis Shaw of Buffalo, a second-round pick, was 13 of 18 for 143 yards but couldn't generate any points. Simpson ran 14 times for only 24 yards.
As for the Rams, Gabriel was 15 of 28 for 202 yards, while Willie Ellison ran for 90 yards and a touchdown. Los Angeles just missed the playoffs that year with a 9-4-1 record, while the Bills ended up 3-10-1.
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.
Story topics: This Day in Bills' History