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Boston Patriots Win AFL Eastern Division Title with Victory over Bills

Dec. 28, 1963 - After four years of coming close and on the brink of frustration once more, the Boston Patriots finally came through with the game they always claimed they were capable of playing and won the American Football League’s Eastern Division title today at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. Before 33,044 fans who braved 20-degree temperatures and a stiff wind off Lake Erie, Coach Mike Holovak’s Patriots overwhelmed the Bills with a tremendous passing display. The Patriots, by winning this first playoff game in the AFL’s four-year history, earned the right to face the Western Division victors, the San Diego Chargers, on the West Coast a week from tomorrow. The Patriots and Coach Lou Saban’s Bills had finished the regular season with identical 7-6-1 records. The Bills were favored by 2½ points on the strength of Jack Kemp’s passing. But Babe Parilli of the Patriots outdueled both Kemp and Daryle Lamonica, the Bills’ prize rookie quarterback from Notre Dame. The Patriots also had the talented toe of Gino Cappelletti, who kicked 4 field goals in raising his total to 26 for the season. The Patriots’ defensive unit stifled Kemp’s aerial tactics and blunted the running of Cookie Gilchrist, the Bills’ star rusher. “You know how the Patriots beat us? They beat the hell out of us, that’s how.” This was the post-mortem of Bills coach Lou Saban. “They outplayed us all the way in almost every department.” This feeling — that Boston simply outmuscled Buffalo — was also the way the Patriots themselves explained the whipping they gave the Bills. “We let them know early how much we wanted this one,” said linebacker Nick Buoniconti. “In the end, they knew they were outhit.” Nick delivered one of the most telling blows when he lifted Gilchrist off his feet with a crushing tackle. “I don’t think Cookie felt like running too much after that,” said Boston halfback Billy Lott. One major contribution to the victory was a suggestion made yesterday by Babe Parilli to coach Holovak. “I told Mike that I thought we could beat Buffalo by getting set quicker at the line of scrimmage. Usually, Buffalo likes to have its linebackers jumping all around the place while I’m calling signals. By setting up quicker, we could prevent this and catch them good a couple of times. When I asked Mike about it, he said he’d been thinking the same thing. We used it in the game, and because of it we could spot what defense they were going to use much quicker.”


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