Last month, we took a look at some interesting Bills’ numbers from the early 1970s – one for each season – continuing what we began back in September that started with a piece on fun facts and oddities in the early 1960s and then the late 1960s.
With little positive to draw on after the Saints’ 47-10 thrashing of the Bills, let’s pick up where we left off and look at some fun numbers, facts and oddities, wrapping up the 1970s. Beginning with ...
In 1975, O.J. Simpson, who of course broke Jim Brown’s single-season rushing record with 2,003 rushing yards just two years prior, would take another big record from Brown – total yards from scrimmage.
Brown’s record of 2,131 yards had stood since 1963, and was topped by The Juice, who picked up 1,817 yards on the ground and 426 yards receiving – 2,243 total yards.
Simpson’s record would stand until after the schedule expansion, when in 1984, Eric Dickerson picked up just one more total yard in two more games. Currently, the record belongs to Chris Johnson, who had 2,509 total yards from scrimmage in 2009. Simpson, however, had more yards-per-game than Johnson, 160.2 to 156.8, and still holds the Bills single-season record. Thurman Thomas came the closest for the Bills in 1992, with 2,113 total yards.
In 1976, O.J. Simpson had his third career season with at least 1,500 rushing yards, tying Jim Brown for most such seasons in NFL history.
Incredibly, at that time, no other player had even a single such season and at the time of the schedule expansion in 1978, only Walter Payton joined the list with one of his own, the season prior to the expansion, in 1977.
In 1977, the Bills did not have a single player with more than four touchdowns scored. Bob Chandler, who led the team with exactly four, scored his final two touchdowns of the season in a single game on Dec. 11th that season, in a 14-10 victory over the Jets. Fourteen years prior, almost to the day, on Dec. 8, 1963, Cookie Gilchrist tied a then-NFL record by scoring five touchdowns in a single game.
Stats Wizard: Just two years later, on Dec. 12 1965, rookie Gale Sayers scored an incredible six touchdowns in a single game. He had four rushing scores, one receiving score, and a punt returned for a touchdown. Only one player since Sayers has both a rushing and receiving touchdown and a punt returned for a score in the same game: Freddie Solomon on Dec. 5, 1976, against, and for the tie-in, the Buffalo Bills.
In 1978, after finishing the season 3-13 the year prior, the Bills selected 1977 Heisman Trophy runner-up Terry Miller with the fifth overall selection of the draft.
The first choice was Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell. Miller had a solid rookie campaign, rushing for 1,060 yards, but fizzled out soon after as he failed to tally even half as many rushing yards for the remainder of his career. The sixth selection of that draft went to the Green Bay Packers, as they selected future Hall of Famer James Lofton. Lofton, of course, gave the Bills some great seasons in the twilight of his career, but his best seasons undeniably came with Green Bay.
In 1979, the Bills had the first overall selection in the draft, a pick they acquired as part of the deal with the 49ers that sent O.J. Simpson to San Francisco.
(Now, before I continue, keep in mind that this is the same year in which future Hall of Famer Joe Montana was drafted 82nd overall, at that point, Buffalo had already passed on Montana five times and had the very next pick).
With that first overall draft pick, the Bills took Tom Cousineau, a linebacker out of the Ohio State University, who would never even play a down for Buffalo, but fear not, he managed to score the Bills their very own Hall of Fame Quarterback.
Here's how: Upon being drafted by the Bills, Cousineau rejected the Bills offer, and instead opted to play Canadian football, with the intention of later joining to the NFL as a free agent, earning him an even bigger payday, and it worked, but upon his return in 1982, he was still technically property of the Bills, and so he was dealt to the Browns, who would then make him one of the highest paid players in the NFL, for their 1983 first-round draft pick as well as a subsequent second and third round draft choice.
Well, that draft-pick wound-up being the 14th overall choice. Fortunately for Buffalo, they now had two picks in the first round. That's because Buffalo squandered its own 12th overall selection on Tony Hunter, a tight end out of Notre Dame, who played just two seasons for them.
With the 14th pick? The Bills selected future Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.
Did you know? The first round of the 1983 draft yielded six Hall of Famers out of 28 selections, 21.4 percent. They were John Elway (1st), Eric Dickerson (2nd), Bruce Matthews (9th), Jim Kelly (14th), Dan Marino (27th), and Darrell Green (29th). Hall f Fame defensive end Richard Dent was also taken in 1983, in the 8th round, 203rd overall.
Other columns in this series: