Here again, this final week of October in the year 2020, come Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. This year’s different (for a lot of reasons), and the Buffalo Bills for the first time in more than 20 years face a Belichick team with a chance to make a good AFC East lead over the Patriots even better.
Don’t need to tell you that Belichick has dominated the Bills over the years, but do you know the exact record?
It’s 35 wins and six losses.
I know it because Andy Provin, unofficial Bills historian and a smart Twitter follow (@AndyProvin), compiled it – along with the Bills’ record against every other coach they’ve ever faced.
This kind of work for me is like standing on a cliff looking out at the ocean. I can’t look away. Every time I open the chart it’s new again. It’s like a great movie - no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you still find something new about it to enjoy. One time you look at it and it’s Belichick’s insane record that jumps out; the next it’s the Bills once lost a game to Greg Schiano.
Belichick’s 35 wins over the Bills are only tied for the most against the team. Don Shula had the same 35 wins, against 20 losses. The only other coaches to beat the Bills 10 or more times go back to the AFL days of the 1960s: Sid Gillman (11) and Hank Stram (10).
Funny that Belichick and Shula both served as head coaches for years before moving to the teams for which they’re, by far, best remembered, but neither ever beat the Bills with their earlier clubs. In five years with Cleveland, Belichick lost his only game against Buffalo (1995). And while Shula was Baltimore’s coach for nine seasons, the Colts and Bills never played. (They were in different leagues.)
So, ready for some more great details in the Bills’ history against coaches?
I can’t say these are the top-10, necessarily. Let’s say, instead, that they’re my favorite finds.
Here they are, with the Bills’ record against each coach. Playoff games are included:
BILL PARCELLS (9-9)
Surprised? Parcells’ win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV – with Belichick at his side – is arguably the most famous defeat in team history, and New York Giants coaches have been given most of the credit. Of course, if one kick is different then the story gets written differently, but that’s sports.
Parcells faced the Bills as the coach of four different teams. These 18 games include eight between the Bills and Patriots, six more as New York Jets coach after that, and one with the Dallas Cowboys in 2003. And I can’t leave out the Bills’ 6-3 overtime win over the Giants during the 1987 Players Strike, when the teams were comprised mostly of replacement players.
The Super Bowl, of course, is the one that stands out.
The Bills have the same all-time record of 9-9 against their offensive coordinator from Super Bowl XXV, Ted Marchibroda.
Speaking of that game…
MARV LEVY (2-1)
Now 95, the Hall of Fame coach put in five full seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before coming to Buffalo.
The Bills and Chiefs split games in 1978; back then there were divisions with five teams and others with four, and to make the schedule work the two fifth-place teams in each conference would play twice in a season. The other meeting was the 1982 opener, where Chuck Knox’s Bills beat Levy’s Chiefs, 14-9. 1982 was also a strike year, both the Bills and Chiefs would fail to make an expanded playoff field, and both Knox and Levy were dismissed after the season.
Levy, by the way, is one of 10 former Bills coaches to also coach against them. Buffalo’s combined record in those games is 20-24. The most wins the Bills have against a coach who also was once their head coach is five, against Rex Ryan.
NICK SABAN (3-1)
Saban has been the very successful head coach at the University of Alabama since 2007, but in the two years prior to that he led the Miami Dolphins. The Bills beat Saban’s Dolphins three out of four times. The one loss, however, is the most memorable game.
Mike Mularkey’s Bills took a 21-0 lead in Miami on three first quarter touchdown passes from J.P. Losman to Lee Evans. The Dolphins’ offense sputtered all day and the Bills led into the fourth quarter, 23-3. But reserve quarterback Sage Rosenfels got hot, and he and wide receiver Chris Chambers came to wear down the Bills. Their touchdown connection with six seconds left gave Miami the comeback win. Chambers went for 15 catches and 238 yards.
FREDDIE KITCHENS (0-1), ROB CHUDZINSKI (0-1)
The Browns being the Browns.
Two coaches in the second incarnation of the team lasted only one season each, but both of teams scored wins over the Bills.
In 2013, Chudzinski’s Browns beat the Bills and fellow rookie NFL head coach Doug Marrone in a Thursday night game, 37-24. Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel was injured, and the Bills wobbled through a 6-10 season. For Chudzinski, Cleveland went 1-10 after this game and that was the end for him.
Kitchens’ 2019 Browns were a big disappointment, but did beat the Bills in Week 10, 19-16. He was out after one year also and is now the New York Giants’ tight ends coach.
JOHN McVAY (1-0), SEAN McVAY (1-0)
The Bills beat the Rams earlier this year, giving them the same lifetime record against Sean McVay as they have against his grandfather.
John McVay coached the Giants from 1976-78, including a 41-17 loss to the Bills that final season. On the road, the Giants led this game 17-7 in the third quarter before the Bills went ahead and scored 34 straight points.
Buffalo had 366 rushing yards in this game, a team record, and its five rushing touchdowns in this game is tied for the franchise high.
BRUCE COSLET (9-1), RICH KOTITE (5-0)
They’re not one-off Browns coaches or grandfather and grandson, but pairing Coslet and Kotite just felt right.
Coslet was the Jets’ coach during the Bills’ four Super Bowl years, and then Bengals coach from 1996-2000. Coslet never had a full season with a winning record in the NFL, but he did get the Jets to the playoffs as a wild card in 1991. (I had forgotten that a long time ago.)
Kotite, meanwhile, is best remembered as Philadelphia’s coach, where he served from 1991-94. With the Eagles Kotite lost to the Bills once, and then he went 0-4 against Buffalo in two years with the Jets (1995-96). Those Jets teams overall went 4-28.
TOM LANDRY (1-3)
Landry’s legendary Cowboys teams faced the Bills four times. They won here in the 1971 season opener, then beat the Bills twice on Monday nights at Texas Stadium (1976, 1981).
Their loss? 1984, when as a 10-point favorite against an 0-10 Bills team Dallas gave up an 85-yard touchdown run to Greg Bell on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and never caught up. 14-3 was the final, as an eventual 2-14 Bills team somehow pulled off a Cowboys team that was entering a decline phase.
Now, a few going-away presents:
FIVE COACHES YOU WANT THE RECORD AGAINST TO BE BETTER:
- Bill O’Brien (1-3)
- Dave Wannstedt (2-8)
- Marvin Lewis (6-4)
- Jeff Fisher (3-7)
- Doug Marrone (1-1)
FIVE COACHES YOU’RE SURPRISED TO LEARN THE BILLS DID THIS WELL AGAINST:
- Jimmy Johnson (5-7)
- Dan Reeves (7-3)
- Chuck Noll (6-6)
- Mike Shanahan (3-5)
- Mike Holmgren (4-3)
FIVE COACHES THE BILLS FACE IN THEIR NEXT FIVE GAMES:
- Bill Belichick (6-35)
- Pete Carroll (3-7)
- Kliff Kingsbury (first meeting)
- Anthony Lynn (0-2)
- Mike Tomlin (1-4)
FIVE COACHES THE BILLS COULD MEET IN THE PLAYOFFS:
- John Harbaugh (1-4)
- Andy Reid (3-6)
- Mike Vrabel (2-1)
- Jon Gruden (2-2)
- Frank Reich (0-1)