1990 - 1993 - 4 Losing Super Bowls
In 1990, the Bills switched to a no huddle, hurry-up offense (frequently with Kelly in the shotgun formation, the “K-gun”, named for tight-end Keith McKeller), and it led The Bills’ offense to one of the best in the league; their 428 points (26.75 points per game) scored was first in the league,. The team finished 13–3 and won a close game with the dolphins the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders (51–3) in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl XXV. The Bills were favorites to beat the New York Giants (whom they had beaten on the road during the regular season), but the defensive plan laid out by Giants coach Bill Parcells and defensive coordinator Bill Belichick kept Buffalo in check (and without the ball) for much of the game. The game featured many lead changes, and with the score 20–19 in favor of New York with eight seconds left, Bills kicker Scott Norwood attempted a 47-yard field goal. His kick sailed wide right, less than a yard outside of the goalpost upright.
The Bills had a tough time through the 1991 regular season as well, finishing 13–3 again and with Thurman Thomas winning a couple of awards. They also had a hard time with the Kansas City Chiefs in their first playoff game and beat the Denver Broncos in a defensive struggle in the AFC Championship. The Bills looked to avenge their heartbreaking Super Bowl loss a year earlier by playing the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, but it was not to be. The Redskins opened up a 17–0 halftime lead and never looked back, handing the Bills a 37–24 loss. During this game, Thurman Thomas lost his helmet and shockingly had to sit out the first two plays of the game, making the Bills the butt of jokes nationwide.
The Bills lost the 1992 AFC East title to the Miami Dolphins and Jim Kelly was injured in the final game of the regular season. Backup quarterback Frank Reich started their wild card playoff game against the Houston Oilers, and they were down 35–3 early in the third quarter. With a few plays of luck the bills won. Buffalo then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoff and upset the archrival Dolphins in the AFC Championship to advance to their third straight Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXVII, played against the Dallas Cowboys, turned out to be a mismatch. Buffalo committed 9 turnovers en route to a 52–17 loss. The Bills became the first team in NFL history to lose three consecutive Super Bowls. One of the sole bright spots for the Bills was Don Beebe’s rundown and strip of Leon Lett after Lett had returned a fumble inside the Bills’ 5 and was on his way to scoring. Lett started celebrating too early and held the ball out long enough for Beebe, who had made up a considerable distance to get to Lett, to knock it out of his hand. The play resulted in a touchback, not a touchdown, thus stopping Dallas from breaking the record for most points scored by a team in a Super Bowl (55), which was set three years earlier and is still held today by the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bills won the AFC East championship in 1993 with a 12–4 record, and again won playoff games against the Los Angeles Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, setting up a rematch with the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII on January 30, 1994. The Bills became the only team ever to play in four straight Super Bowls, and in this game became the first team to face the same team in 2 straight Super Bowls, and looked ready to finally win one when they led at halftime. A Thurman Thomas fumble returned for a touchdown by James Washington tied the game, with Super Bowl MVP Emmitt Smith taking over the rest of the game for the Cowboys and the Bills were stunned again, 30–13.