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PASabreFan

Five other times the Sabres and Bills had really good early-season records at the same time

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October 31, 1973 — When the Sabres beat the California Golden Seals on this Halloween eve at the Aud, the upstart Buffalo hockey franchise was 7-3 on the young season — after making its first playoff appearance earlier in the year and putting a scare into the vaunted Montreal Canadiens. You could say the city was on a professional sports high. Two days earlier, before 76,000-plus fans at brand-new Rich Stadium, the Bills had beaten Kansas City in the first Monday Night Football game in franchise history, complete with an appearance by the bombastic sportscaster, Howard Cosell. Buffalo's football team was undefeated in three games at its new home and was 5-2 overall. Good times didn't last. The Sabres, who had lost their young phenom, Gilbert Perreault, to a broken left leg in a win over the Islanders a few days before beating the Seals, would win only two of their next 10 games. They would lose much more than that — defenseman Tim Horton died in a car accident in late February. The team finished a hair under .500 and missed the playoffs. The Bills lost their next three games and ended 9-5, out of the playoffs. But in a December game at Shea Stadium against the Jets, their star offensive player, O.J. Simpson, became the first running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

November 3, 1974 — On this day, the Bills beat the New England Patriots at Schaefer Stadium (later Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium), 29-28. They were 7-1 and riding high. Unlike what a win in NE would do today, this victory did not send waves of shock and glee throughout the team's fan base. The Patriots hadn't had a winning record since 1966 when they were the Boston Patriots. That night, the Sabres won at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers to sit at 7-3-1 in the standings. Unlike the previous fall, the Sabres held up their end of the bargain to keep the good times rolling, not losing until November 16 — and finishing the season with a sterling 49-16-15 record (but their playoff record was not quite silver — they lost to the Flyers in the final). The Bills? Not so much. They lost to the Houston Oilers at Rich the following week, one of four losses in the final six games of the season. The 9-5 Bills made the playoffs but lost in the first round in Pittsburgh to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers.

October 26, 1975 — With fans preparing to tail-gate at Rich Stadium on a chilly autumn day, Buffalo's football team was 4-1, and its hockey team, fresh off a trip to the final the previous spring, was 7-0. The game started at 4, and by early evening, everything was on track to see the Bills win their first game of the 70s over the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo led 30-21 with just over three minutes to go. Even if you're too young to remember, you probably can sense how things turned out. Bob Griese touchdown, Joe Ferguson interception, another Dolphins touchdown, another Ferguson turnover, and a shocking 35-30 loss. The Sabres were two aspirin to a Western New York sports headache a little later on that night with a narrow win over the California Golden Seals at the Aud. Eight in a row! The Bills won the following week but proceeded to lose four of their final seven games to end the season 8-6 and out of the postseason. The Sabres finally lost three days later in Toronto but still enjoyed another fine regular season with 105 points. The Bills were headed toward oblivion after this season, and the Sabres would have their own issues — routine regular season success followed by predictable playoff disappointment.

November 12, 1989 — The Cold War was ending, and a Shooting War was erupting at One Bills Drive. Soviet defector Alexander Mogilny was in his first season as a Sabre, and he scored 20 seconds into his North American career. The Sabres were hot, beating the Oilers 6-5 on this date at the Aud to improve to 12-4-2. So were the Bills, who had routed the Indianapolis Colts at Rich earlier in the day. They were 7-3. But the Bills started losing the following week, at New England — now that's more like it — and finished just 9-7, albeit in the playoffs. Through it all, the Bills were earning the nickname The Bickering Bills, with Thurman Thomas applying the coup de grace of internal strife: with the losses mounting, when asked what position the Bills most needed to improve, he coldly stated — "quarterback." The Bills had snapped the franchise's playoff drought the previous season with a win over the Oilers at Rich Stadium, but this time around the opening round brought a heartbreaking loss in Cleveland. The Sabres spent the week after beating the Oilers win going winless on a Western Canada swing. They still had a good season, 98 points, but their own streak of playoff futility continued with a first-round exit courtesy of the Canadiens. (The Sabres hadn't won a playoff round since 1983 against those same Habs.)

October 25, 2008 — The Sabres lost in a shootout at Colorado on this Saturday night, but their record was still an impressive one: 6-0-2. The Bills, who had beaten the Chargers at the Ralph the previous Sunday to start the season 5-1, were in Miami preparing for a game with the Dolphins the next day. A 25-16 loss in a game the Bills led 16-7 early in the second half was the beginning of the end for the Bills, the first of four straight defeats on the way to one of those 7-9 seasons. The Sabres would lose 11 of their next 17 games and were out of the playoffs for a second straight year following back-to-back conference final appearances, despite one of those heroic finishes to a regular season.

Almost a sixth — In 1980, the woebegone Bills franchise started the new decade with five straight wins to set the WNY football scene ablaze. But as the Sabres were starting their own season 8-2-2, the Bills were dropping three of four, so it doesn't quite count as both teams having really good records at the same time. Under head coach Chuck Knox, the Bills recovered to finish 11-5 and make the playoffs, only to lose at San Diego in a game that still grinds the gears of many old-timers. The previous spring, the Sabres themselves had a new coach, Scotty Bowman, and went the Cup semifinal. With Knox in Orchard Park and innovator Roger Neilson taking over for Bowman downtown with Scotty going upstairs to be GM, Buffalo sports seemed to finally have brilliant people in place to lead the respective franchises to long-sought glory. How far off could Stanley Cups and Super Bowls be?

 

Edited by PASabreFan
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I am 58.  I’ve said more than a few times “just once in my lifetime so I can go happy.”

As my age increases, and as my teams improve, I find myself looking over my shoulder for Mephistopheles!

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

October 26, 1975 — With fans preparing to tail-gate at Rich Stadium on a chilly autumn day, Buffalo's football team was 4-1, and its hockey team, fresh off a trip to the final the previous spring, was 7-0. The game started at 4, and by early evening, everything was on track to see the Bills win their first game of the 70s over the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo led 30-21 with just over three minutes to go. Even if you're too young to remember, you probably can sense things turned out. Bob Griese touchdown, Joe Ferguson interception, another Dolphins touchdown, another Ferguson turnover, and a shocking 35-30 loss. The Sabres were two aspirin to a Western New York sports headache a little later on with a narrow win over the California Golden Seals at the Aud. Eight in a row! The Bills won the following week but proceeded to lose four of their final seven games to end the season 8-6 and out of the postseason. The Sabres finally lost three days later in Toronto but still enjoyed another fine regular season with 105 points. The Bills were headed toward oblivion after this season, and the Sabres would have their own issues — routine regular season success followed by predictable playoff disappointment.

I remember something about Griese calling out Ferguson on Twitter after that loss.

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My daughter and I discussed this very topic over dinner.  She asked me when was the last time both the Sabres and Bills were good at the same time.  I didn't remember 2008.  I told her not in her lifetime. 

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12 hours ago, PASabreFan said:

October 25, 2008 — The Sabres lost in a shootout at Colorado on this Saturday night, but their record was still an impressive one: 6-0-2. The Bills, who had beaten the Chargers at the Ralph the previous Sunday to start the season 5-1, were in Miami preparing for a game with the Dolphins the next day. A 25-16 loss in a game the Bills led 16-7 early in the second half was the beginning of the end for the Bills, the first of four straight defeats on the way to one of those 7-9 seasons. The Sabres would lose 11 of their next 17 games and were out of the playoffs for a second straight year following back-to-back conference final appearances, despite one of those heroic finishes to a regular season.

 

 

I remember this one very clearly.  I was also in Miami preparing my liver for what was to come.  I remember having this giant 1 foot tall german glass of beer as I checked the score of that Avs game.  I've never seen something anywhere near as brilliant as Trent Edwards attempting to hold the football over a giant pile up at mid-field, attempting to get a first down.  Hey giant stack of defenders, please don't take this ball as I hold it out right in front of your faces.

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I don't know the exact time, it was when I delivered the Courier Express, so mid-1970-ish... All three teams Bills, Sabres and Braves got off to a strong start and led their divisions.

It looked pretty nice on the standings page of the paper.

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How have the Sabres done with similar starts in the past?

The 2006-7 team won 10 straight to start the season, including 3 in SOs.  They won the Division and President's Cup.

I know the 74-75 team went 6-3-1 to start that great year, and played for the Cup.

The 2009-10 team started 8-1-1 and earned 100 points but lost to Boston in the 1st rd.

Others?

 

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2 hours ago, GASabresIUFAN said:

How have the Sabres done with similar starts in the past?

The 2006-7 team won 10 straight to start the season, including 3 in SOs.  They won the Division and President's Cup.

I know the 74-75 team went 6-3-1 to start that great year, and played for the Cup.

The 2009-10 team started 8-1-1 and earned 100 points but lost to Boston in the 1st rd.

Others?

 

75-76 was 8-1-1 and 77-78 was 8-2-1. Very good regular season, preliminary round win (by the skin of their teeth in 76), and quarterfinal exit.

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35 minutes ago, WildCard said:

 

Bandits starting to feel the pressure for a quick start?

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11 hours ago, gris said:

I don't know the exact time, it was when I delivered the Courier Express, so mid-1970-ish... All three teams Bills, Sabres and Braves got off to a strong start and led their divisions.

It looked pretty nice on the standings page of the paper.

Could have been on or about December 1, 1975.

All three teams were in first.

The Braves were 16-6.

https://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/standings.fcgi?month=12&day=1&year=1974&lg_id=NBA

The Bills were 9-3.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/standings.cgi?month=12&day=1&year=1974&league=NFL

The Sabres were 18-4-4.

http://www.shrpsports.com/nhl/stand.php?link=Y&season=1975&divcnf=div&month=Dec&date=1

Buffalo's teams were a combined 43-13-4!

Edited by PASabreFan
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