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This Day in Bills History, Nov. 22: 'Hail Mary' produces a miracle

Nov. 22, 1981 – Here’s another reminder to sports fans: Never leave a game early.

Bills’ boosters had reason to be downhearted during this game. The lowly Patriots, sporting a 2-9 record, had just taken a 17-13 lead over the 6-5 Bills. Matt Cavanaugh threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Don Hasselback in the final moments. The game looked all but over, since the Bills had to go 73 yards in 35 seconds.

Joe Ferguson threw to Roland Hooks, who made a beautiful catch on the New England 36. Still, a victory seemed improbable, with no timeouts. Ferguson threw a ball out of bounds to stop the clock.

Ferguson threw the ball into a crowd in the end zone, hoping for a break. He got one. The ball bounced off Patriots’ linebacker Mike Hawkins, and into the arms of Hooks for the winning touchdown.

Hooks finished with six catches for 111 yards. It was a nice day for a player who had a knack of helping his team whenever it was needed.

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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