The game book from the Patriots first postseason appearance history described the Buffalo weather on December 28, 1963 as “fair/cold.” Buffalo in December? Probably could have said overcast and cold… or snow and cold. That always seems to be the case during late-season trips to Buffalo even if it’s not literally reality.
Heck, the Patriots just visited on December 6, 2021 and it was… well… predictably windy and just lousy even if the 14-10 outcome was favorable for New England.
That day back in 1963 marked the Boston Patriots first and only playoff appearance during its American Football League days. In fact, it would be 13 seasons before the Patriots would taste postseason football again. It also is the only previous time the Patriots played the Bills in a playoff game.
New England is 2-1 in postseason games against both the Jets and Dolphins – its other current AFC East rivals, but has not faced Buffalo since that afternoon at War Memorial Stadium.
The Patriots and Bills had tied for the Eastern Division title with identical 7-6-1 records, which forced a playoff to see who would battle the Western Division Champion San Diego Chargers. So the Patriots shuffled off to Buffalo with its season on the line just as they will do for a January 15, 2022 matchup – 59 seasons later.
While the Bills are favored to win this weekend as the AFC East Champions, the 1963 game was all Patriots. The Bills actually fumbled the opening kickoff but Boston quarterback Babe Parilli gave the ball back five plays later when he tossed an interception at the Buffalo 7-yard line.
But Boston’s defense was dominant that afternoon, limiting the Bills rushing attack to 7 yards on 12 attempts and holding Buffalo quarterbacks Jack Kemp and Daryle Lamonica to 19-of-45 passing with four interceptions.
While the Patriots defense was limiting Buffalo to virtually nothing offensively, the Patriots scored on four straight possessions following the opening interception. A 59-yard Parilli-to-Larry Garron touchdown pass was sandwiched between three Gino Cappelletti field goals as Boston took a 16-0 lead to the half.
Buffalo made it 16-8 late in the third quarter, but the Patriots responded and pulled away courtesy of Garron’s second touchdown reception – a 17-yarder from Parilli – and another Cappelletti field goal for the 26-7 final score. Parilli finished the game completing 14-of-35 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns while Garron and Cappelletti did most of the damage on the receiving end for Boston. Garron caught four passes for 120 yards and Cappelletti snared four for 109 yards. The Patriots outgained the Bills, 375-286.
Boston advanced to the AFL Championship Game, where it suffered a massive defeat, 51-10, to Sid Gilman’s San Diego Chargers.