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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Slip sliding away

   September 5, 1949 -- The Buffalo Bills just couldn't figure out a way to defeat the Cleveland Browns.

   This was the All-American Football Conference, and the Browns were easily the best team to play in that league. They had won the championship in 1946, 1947, and 1948 under soon-to-be legendary coach Paul Brown.

   The Bills opened the '49 season with the Browns. They gave up a touchdown pass by Otto Graham, and then went on a tremendous run. The Bills scored four straight touchdowns to take a 28-7 lead. It looked as if the Bills would defeat Cleveland for the first time in league history.

   But the Browns used Graham's short-pass attack to get within seven points, 28-21. Then Cleveland had the ball on the Buffalo 38 with two minutes to go. The Browns moved the ball to the Bills' 2, and then Mac Speedie caught a touchdown pass. Lou Saban -- that's right, the future Bills' head coach -- kicked the extra point.

   "No, no, no! It can't be! We were 21 points ahead!" Buffalo's Jim Breuil said.

   The Bills started 1-4-1, finished 5-5-2, lost a playoff game to the Browns and folded when the NFL-AAFC merger for 1950 didn't include them.

--- Budd Bailey 

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