The 1989 Buffalo Bills roster includes a slew of players with varying skill levels, but a number of standouts are worth mentioning. A strong defense was key, as the team ranked 14th in points allowed out of 28 teams. The Bills had many playmakers, including Pro Bowl center Kent Hull as well as emerging offensive tackles Howard Ballard (and Wil Wolford). The defense included Cornelius Bennett and Bruce Smith, as well as free safety Mark Kelso.
The 1989 season ended with a record 9-7-1 for the Buffalo Bills. They won the AFC East by one game, and finished first in the NFL’s Eastern Division. They won nine games but missed the playoffs each time. The team’s record fell from 12 wins in 1988 to 9 in 1989. They also failed to reach the playoffs for first time since 1982. The team finished the season with the highest scoring season in its history, but didn’t win the Super Bowl until the next year.
Rueben Brown was another player with exceptional career stats. The Bills’ defense ranked second in the league with eight interceptions. He was a Pro Bowler from 1996 to 2003, and his number was retired. He is a Hall of Fame member and holds many Bills franchise records. The team’s offense was led by Jim Kelly, who won four Super Bowls. The Bills won the NFL Championship four times with Kelly under center. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, a five-time Pro Bowler, and was a member of the league’s All-Star team.
In the seventh round, the Bills drafted Brian Jordan, a future two-sport athlete. He went on to play fifteen Major League Baseball outfield seasons. The Bills also offered Bruce Smith to the Denver Broncos. Smith became the Bills’ all-time leader in sacks with 200. Butch Byrd is another notable player on the 1989 Buffalo Bills roster.
1989 was a year of highs and lows for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills hosted the undefeated Los Angeles Rams during Week Six. Although the Bills were unable to overcome a 16-point deficit, they had a solid defense and managed to recover. In the third quarter, they scored two touchdowns on a blocked punt and a Mark Kelso 76-yard touchdown to win the game. The Bills lost the Super Bowl to the Houston Broncos in the playoffs.
In 1989, the Bills’ offensive line was a key strength. However, their secondary was small. The defense was not as skilled as the offensive line and many players played a limited role as running backs. A few studs played tight ends, including Byron Leftwich and Brandon Pettigrew. The offensive line was led by Jimmy Clausen, who was surprisingly healthy. A Flip Johnson catch was the Bills’ touchdown.