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This Day in Bills History, Nov. 4: Fumble turns win into loss

Nov. 4, 1984 – The game between the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns didn’t receive a great deal of pregame attention from the rest of the nation. After all, the Browns came into the game with a dreary 1-8 record. Marty Schottenheimer had been picked as Cleveland’s coach after Sam Rutigliano had gotten the team off to a 1-7 start.

That still sounded pretty good to the Bills, who came in at 0-9. But Kay Stephenson still had his job for the time being.

It was an odd game – exciting only because it was close. Linebacker Chris Keating had the only touchdown of the first three quarters, as the Bills’ defender went 34 yards with a fumble return. Otherwise, the teams combined for three field goals as Buffalo took a 10-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

That’s when the key play of the game took place. Paul McDonald threw a 13-yard pass to Willis Adams, who promptly fumbled. Teammate Earnest Byner picked the ball up and went 55 yards through the mud for a touchdown. Cleveland’s defense did the rest, and the Browns were winners.

Cleveland started to turn its season around that day, finishing 5-11. Buffalo had to wait a while longer for its first win of the season.

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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