1973 Buffalo Bills season
Head Coach Lou Saban
Home Field Rich Stadium
Record 9-5
Place 2nd
Playoff Finish
Previous Season Next Season
1972 1974

The 1973 Buffalo Bills went 9-5 and finished 2nd in the AFC East, missing the playoffs. The season was the 14th season for the team and their fourth season in the National Football League (NFL). The Bills finished in second place in the AFC East division and finished the 1973 NFL season with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses, the team's first winning record since 1966.[1]

Head coach Lou Saban began the second season of his second tenure with the Bills.[1] Saban had previously led the team to the 1964 and 1965 AFL championships.[2] It was the first season that the team played in Rich Stadium (now "New Era Field") after thirteen years playing at War Memorial Stadium.

The Bills were returning from 1–13 and 4–9–1 records in 1971 and 1972, respectively. Incumbent starting quarterback Dennis Shaw found himself in a battle with rookie Joe Ferguson for the starting job.

The season was defined by O.J. Simpson. The fifth-year running back became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Behind Simpson's record-setting season, the Bills set an NFL record for most team rushing yards in a 14-game season, with 3,088[3] and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, higher than every Super Bowl championship team in all of league history. Simpson was returning from his best professional season, in which he earned his first All-Pro recognition and first rushing title.[4] In addition to establishing a then-record for single-season rushing yardage, with 2,003,[5] Simpson established the single-season record for rushing yards gained per game (143.1 yards per game on 23.7 rushes per game, an average of six yards per carry),[6] which still stands.[7] The explosive offense centered on O.J. Simpson was nicknamed the "Electric Company" for its ability to turn on "The Juice" (i.e. "O.J." Simpson)

Electric Company Era BeginsEdit

Although some describe the entire 1970s decade as the Electric Company era,[8] the 1973 season marked a new era in Bills history and is regarded by many as the beginning of the Electric Company era of the mid-1970s. The team ushered in a new stadium, new uniforms and a transformed team built through the draft and a few key trades.[9] With all the emphasis on rushing the team would only post two 100-yard receiving efforts.[10]

The Bills started the season 4–1 and then lost four of their next five before winning their final 4 games.[10] Rookie quarterback Joe Ferguson, who eventually would be the Bills starting quarterback for 12 seasons,[11] started all 14 games at quarterback.[10] Dennis Shaw who had been the starter the previous three season, saw action in four games.[12]

Simpson's Record-Breaking yearEdit

File:1986 Jeno's Pizza - 29 - O.J. Simpson.jpg

Running back O.J. Simpson broke the 2,000-yard barrier for rushing yards in a season, and was voted NFL Most Valuable Player. Simpson began and ended the fourteen-game season with bookend five-game streaks where he ran for at least 100 yards.[13] 1973 was the fifth of nine consecutive seasons that Simpson led the team in rushing yards.

It was also the first time Simpson would lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns, first time he would lead the league in yards from scrimmage and the second time he would lead the league in rushing yards.[14] (Although Simpson posted a career best 6.0 yards per carry in 1973, he was surpassed by Mercury Morris who posted a 6.4 yards per carry average for the 1973 Miami Dolphins. The only season that Simpson led the league in yards per carry was two years later when he averaged 5.5 yards per carry.)[15]

Although Simpson's 2003 yard total has now been eclipsed by 5 other runners,[16] Template:As of, his 143.1 yards per game remains an NFL single-season record due to being achieved in a fourteen-game season. (All subsequent 2,000-yard seasons took place in 16 games.)[17]

Simpson was named Associated Press Athlete of the Year.[18]

Offensive firepowerEdit

The "Electric Company" of Simpson, Jim Braxton, and rookie Paul Seymour and Joe DeLamielleure led a dramatic turnaround on the field. The "Electric Company" was the nickname of the offensive line (OG Reggie McKenzie, OT Dave Foley, Centers Mike Montler and Bruce Jarvis OG Joe DeLamielleure and OT Donnie Green) which "turned on the Juice" (i.e. O.J. Simpson). The offensive guards were a pair of young future All-Pro performers: Pro Football Hall of Famer DeLamielleure (drafted 26th overall in 1973) and College Football Hall of Famer McKenzie (drafted 27th overall in 1972).[19][20]

Paul Seymour, who would play his entire career with the Bills, became the team's starting tight end.[10] Seymour had been an All-American tackle for Michigan after having played two season at tight end.[21] Seymour went on to start at tight end for a total of five seasons.[22] replacing former tight end Jan White.[23]

Running backs Braxton and Larry Watkins shared the fullback duties with each accumulating over 400 yards rushing.[10] Braxton's 4.6 yards per carry were eighth-most in the NFL.[24]

Wide receiver Bob Chandler led the team in receiving yards, the first of four years he would do so.[1] During the season, Wallace Francis, who finished second in the league in kickoff return average, was the only player in the league to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.[15] John Leypoldt's 70% field goal percentage ranked fifth in the league.[15]

Awards, Accolades and LegacyEdit

The 1973 Bills had three participants in the 1974 Pro Bowl and two members of the All-Pro team.

1973 was the second Pro Bowl and first All-Pro season for cornerback Robert James.[25] Offensive tackle Foley was also voted to the Pro Bowl.[26] Guard McKenzie's was voted to the All-Pro team.[19] Simpson made this third Pro Bowl and second All-Pro team.[14] Both Simpson and James were returning Pro Bowl selections.[27]

The team was featured in the video game Madden NFL '96 as one of the game's "classic" teams, along with 1990–1993 Bills, who won four consecutive AFC Championships.[28]


On April 19, 1973, the Bills traded linebackers Edgar Chandler and Jeff Lyman and fullback Wayne Patrick to the New England Patriots for linebacker Jim Cheyunski and offensive linemen Halvor Hagen and Mike Montler.[29] Although Patrick had been the Bills' Fullback, he lost the starting job to Jim Braxton in 1972.[30]

The Bills also acquired of the Miami Dolphins' top draft selection Mike Kadish in exchange for offensive lineman Irv Goode. The Bills traded defensive tackle Al Cowlings to Houston in exchange for defensive end Earl Edwards. Long-time Bills linebacker Mike Stratton, who had spent the last ten seasons with Buffalo, left the team to play his final season with the San Diego Chargers.[9]

NFL draftEdit

Template:Main article

The team drafted several players in the 1973 NFL Draft who contributed to the offense as starters during this record-setting season. Offensive linemen Paul Seymour and Joe DeLamielleure became cornerstones of the Bills' "Electric Company" offensive line. DeLamielleure was voted to five consecutive Pro Bowls for the Bills (1975–1979), to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Quarterback Joe Ferguson played 164 games at quarterback in 12 seasons for the Bills, a franchise-record. Ferguson retired as the team's all-time leading passer, and his 27,590 passing yards are still second in franchise history behind Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.

Round Pick Player Position College
17Paul SeymourOffensive TackleMichigan
126Joe DeLamielleureOffensive GuardMichigan State
232Jeff WinansDefensive TackleUSC
357Joe FergusonQuarterbackArkansas
377Bob KampaDefensive TackleCalifornia
5110Wallace FrancisWide ReceiverArkansas State
6136John SkorupanLinebackerPenn State
7162Brian McConnellLinebackerMichigan State
14344Merv KrakauLinebackerIowa State
= Pro Bowler = Hall of Famer



1973 Buffalo Bills staff
Front Office

Coaching staff:'

  Offensive staff:

Defensive staff:

Special teams:

Final rosterEdit

1973 Buffalo Bills roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends


Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Special Teams


Defensive Backs

*Notes: Rookies in italics

Regular seasonEdit

Season standingsEdit

1973 AFC East standings[31]
Team W L T PCT(%) DIV CONF PF PA Streak
Miami Dolphins 12 2 0 .857 7–1 9–2 343 150 W1
Buffalo Bills 9 5 0 .643 6–2 7–4 259 230 W4
New England Patriots 5 9 0 .357 1–7 3–8 258 300 L2
New York Jets 4 10 0 .286 4–4 4–7 240 306 L2
Baltimore Colts 4 10 0 .286 2–6 2–9 226 341 W2


  • On Week 1, (played on September 16), against the New England Patriots, O.J.Simpson sets record with 250 yd rushing and two touchdowns.
  • On Week 14, (played on December 16), against the New York Jets. O.J. Simpson rushes for 200 yd and rushes for 2003 yd becoming the first RB to eclipse 2000 yd. Simpson breaks Jim Brown's record of 1863 set 10 years earlier.
Game Date Opponent Result Bills points Opponents Bills first downs Record
1 September 16 at New England Patriots Win 31 13 23 1–0
2 Sep 23 at San Diego Chargers Loss 7 34 16 1–1
3 Sep 30 New York Jets Win 9 7 15 2–1
4 Oct 7 Philadelphia Eagles Win 27 26 16 3–1
5 Oct 14 Baltimore Colts Win 31 13 18 4–1
6 Oct 21 at Miami Dolphins Loss 6 27 8 4–2
7 Oct 29 Kansas City Chiefs Win 23 14 21 5–2
8 Nov 4 at New Orleans Saints Loss 0 13 10 5–3
9 Nov 11 Cincinnati Bengals Loss 13 16 10 5–4
10 Nov 18 Miami Dolphins Loss 0 17 15 5–5
11 Nov. 25 at Baltimore Colts Win 24 17 16 6–5
12 Dec 2 at Atlanta Falcons Win 17 6 17 7–5
13 Dec 9 New England Patriots Win 37 13 13 8–5
14 Dec 16 at New York Jets Win 34 14 21 9–5

O.J. SimpsonEdit

O.J. Simpson had three 200-yard rushing games, six 150-yard rushing games and eleven 100-yard rushing games. He only had 30 rushes in a game twice all season, but totaled 2,003 yards due to a 6.0 yards-per-carry average. Over the course of the season Simpson also caught six pass receptions.[13]

Date Home/Away Opponent Result Rushes Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Receptions Yards
September 16, 1973A NWE W 31–13 292508.62200
September 23, 1973A SDG L 7–34 221034.68100
September 30, 1973HNYJ W 9–7 241235.130215
October 7, 1973HPHI W 27–26 271716.331333
October 14, 1973HBAL W 31–13 221667.55200
October 21, 1973A MIA L 6–27 14553.93000
October 29, 1973HKAN W 23–14 391574.03200
November 4, 1973A NOR L 0–13 20793.95000
November 11, 1973HCIN L 13–16 20994.95100
November 18, 1973HMIA L 0–17 201206.000122
November 25, 1973A BAL W 24–17 151248.27100
December 2, 1973A ATL W 17–6 241375.71000
December 9, 1973HNWE W 37–13 222199.95100
December 16, 1973A NYJ W 34–14 342005.88100


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  3. In a single season, from 1940 to 2011, in the regular season, sorted by descending Rushing Yds
  4. Buffalo Is Still Rebuilding. The Dispatch (August 17, 1973). Retrieved on June 28, 2010.
  5. The record was later broken by Eric Dickerson in 1984)
  6. 1973 Buffalo Bills Statistics And Players from Pro Football Reference
  7. Template:As of
  8. Choinski, Bill. The Electric Company 1970–1978 Buffalo Bills. Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 1973 Buffalo Bills – The Birth of the Electric Company. Archived from the original on December 14, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 1973 Buffalo Bills. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  11. Joe Ferguson. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 13, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  12. Dennis Shaw. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  13. 13.0 13.1 O.J. Simpson Career Game Log. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  14. 14.0 14.1 O.J. Simpson. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 1973 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on May 13, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  16. NFL Single-Season Rushing Yards Leaders. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  17. NFL Single-Season Rushing Yards per Game Leaders. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  18. O.J. Named Male Athlete of the Year. Lawrence Journal-World (January 17, 1974). Retrieved on August 27, 2010.
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  23. Jan White. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
  24. Jim Braxton. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
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  28. Madden NFL 96. Retrieved on June 26, 2010.
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  31. NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, Template:ISBN, p. 296
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