Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38

Buffalo Bills 21

 

Aug. 8, 1961

 

For the only time in history, an American Football League team met a Canadian Football League Team. And, for the first time in history, a CFL team defeated a professional team from America when the Tiger-Cats downed the Buffalo Bills, 38-21 in Hamilton. It should be remembered that the Bills game in Hamilton was very different than the other games. It actually is an “NFL” game only in retrospect. In 1961, the Buffalo Bills were purely an AFL team with the draft wars, Super Bowls and merger still years away. This game, therefore, can be viewed separately from the others. The game was played at Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne Stadium before 12,000 curious fans playing with a mix of American and Canadian rules.

In the first quarter, Ti-Cats fullback Jerry McDougall boomed a quick-kick 77 yards to the Bills 10 yard line. On the next play, Hamilton’s Butch Rogers intercepted a Johnny Green pass and ran 22 yards for a score. Midway through the first quarter, Hamilton’s Ron Miller tried a 27 yard field goal which was wide. Buffalo’s William Fowler attempted to run it out of the endzone (mandatory by Canadian rules) but was stopped short by Hal Patterson for a one point rouge. The score was 8-0. On the third play of the second quarter, Rogers again intercepted a Green pass at the Buffalo 13. Bernie Faloney then spotted Patterson between the goalposts in the endzone at hit him with a beautiful touchdown strike in front of defender, Jack Johnson. Later in the quarter, the Bills stopped Hamilton’s Don Sutherin in the endzone following a pass from Tom Dublinski for a safety. On the last play of the half, the Bills’ Richie Lucas ran 9 yards to the Hamilton 39, but a roughing penalty was called on the Ti-Cats for piling on. The ball was moved to the 24 where Lucas hit Monte Crockett for a touchdown. The halftime score was 21-8 in favor of Hamilton.

Hamilton opened it to 27-8 in the third quarter on a touchdown pass from Faloney to Paul Dekker. Later in the quarter, Green led the Bills on a drive which ended on a three yard Art Baker scoring run. On their next possession, Elbert Dubenion returned a Hamilton punt 21 yards and Green hit Crockett on an 8 yard touchdown route. At 28-21, the Bills were back in it. But, Faloney hit Ralph Goldston on a 29 yard pass play to set up Ron Miller’s 17 yard field goal and give Hamilton a 31-21 cushion. Frank Cosentino replaced Faloney and finished the rout with a 50 yard touchdown pass to Goldston. The final was Hamilton 38, Buffalo 21.

For Buffalo and the AFL, the game was a disappointment. The Bills were befuddled by the Canadian rules, suffered a rash of preseason injuries, and used untested rookies who were not familiar with their system, having practiced less than two weeks. The game exposed the weakness of the young American Football League. For the Tiger-Cats and the CFL, it was redemption for the 6 previous losses to US teams. It would mark the last time the CFL and NFL/AFL met in history.



Regular Season:

The Buffalo Bills finished 6-8 in 1961, last place in the AFL East. They finished 1/2 game better than in 1960, the first year of the league’s existence. The team was led by receiver Elbert Dubenion. Hamilton went 10-4-0 to finish first in the East and out-dueled Toronto in the playoffs to advance to the Grey Cup. But, Winnipeg won the Cup, scoring a thrilling 21-14 overtime victory in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium in the only overtime game to ever be played in Grey Cup history to date. Quarterback Bernie Faloney would go on to be the CFL MVP in 1961.


 

 

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