In 1991, Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas and the Buffalo Bills were coming off of their heartbreaking Super Bowl XXV loss to the New York Giants. They were a kick away from being NFL champions. This season was all about redemption for the Bills and Thomas, considered one of the top five running backs of the 90s, led the way.
Thurman Thomas Dominated From Start to Finish in 1991
With the NFC having Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders battling it out for the conference’s top back title, Thurman Thomas was considered one of the elite in the AFC along with Bo Jackson. Starting from Week 1, Thomas hit the ground running…and receiving. Against the Miami Dolphins in Orchard Park, Thomas had 165 yards rushing and 1 TD on 25 carries. He also caught 8 passes for 103 yards and 1 TD in a 35-31 home win. In Week 2, another home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had 107 yards on only 15 rushing attempts and caught just 4 passes for 35 yards. The Bills didn’t needs much from him that day as they won handily 52-34. The New York Jets were up next in Week 3, and in the Meadowlands, the Bills pulled out a 23-20 victory. Thomas had over 100 yards receiving this game (112) and caught a TD pass. It was games like this that made Thomas unstoppable at times; he had 11 games that season where he had over 100 yards combined rushing and receiving.
In Week 12 against the Dolphins in south Florida, Thomas ran over their rivals for 135 yards on the ground and 1 TD on 23 rushes. He added 40 yards receiving and a TD on 3 receptions to propel the Bills to a season sweep of the Dolphins in a 41-27 road victory.
The Bills steamrolled through the season finishing 13-3, the best team in the AFC again. Thomas finished with 1,407 yards rushing with 7 TDs, and caught 62 passes (career high) for 631 yards and 5 TDs, his first 2,000 yards from scrimmage season. He was voted the 1991 NFL MVP for his sensational season.
Thomas, Bills Reach Super Bowl
Thomas and his teammates kept their word, defeating the Chiefs and Broncos in the playoffs and made their way back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. However, it was the same result as they ran into the only team that was better than them record wise in the NFL, the 14-2 Washington Redskins. The Bills lost Super Bowl XXVI 37-24 and had fallen to another NFC East team in the big game. For Thomas, he established himself as one of the elite running backs in entire NFL that season, and his body of work throughout his career earned him a spot in Canton.