1 – A gutsy battle to the end
The Bills knew they were going into Sunday’s game supremely shorthanded missing four starters on defense as well as their starting center on offense. But it didn’t impact their effort and mettle in oppressively hot conditions in Miami on Sunday.
The steamy and humid conditions sapped the roster of any depth it had left as players left the game due to heat exhaustion or an injury as the game neared halftime.
Right tackle Spencer Brown was struggling with heat illness and exited the game in the first half as well with David Quessenberry coming on for him. TE Dawson Knox and WR Isaiah McKenzie also succumbed to the heat, though McKenzie was able to return to the game.
“It was so hot,” said McKenzie, a south Florida native. “It was hot the whole game. I started throwing up, so I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to just take a breather.’ So, I came out and had to come back to the locker room and get an IV. I thought I was used to this just coming from Miami, but I guess I’m more familiar with Buffalo at this moment.”
Fellow south Florida native Greg Rousseau confirmed McKenzie’s assessment of the weather.
“It was up there like top two top three hottest I’d say,” said Rousseau who played his college ball in the same stadium for the University of Miami. “We had a real hot game against Georgia Tech, but even in college football, you don’t always kick off at 1 pm. You get like four o’clock kick off. Sometimes it’s a night game. Being out there at 1 pm is different.”
In addition to the players having to retire from the heat, there were other players leaving the game with injuries. WR Jake Kumerow sustained an ankle injury after making a reception in the first half and could not return to the game leaving Buffalo with just four receivers. Rookie CB Christian Benford sustained a hand injury, and though he returned to the game he could only play on special teams. It forced undrafted rookie practice squad call up Ja’Marcus Ingram to play at corner.
Come the second half the situation only got worse. On Buffalo’s 20-play field goal drive in the third quarter Buffalo would also lose RG Ryan Bates to a head injury. In the latter stages of the fourth quarter, backup C Greg Van Roten had to be replaced by Greg Mancz.
Several other players on offense sustained muscle cramps, as the unit was on the field for 90 plays and had to step out briefly and then return to the game. But none of Sean McDermott’s men who took the field ever gave up.
“I told them in the locker room after the game… I didn’t even bring them up for a huddle because they all couldn’t move, that was a heck of an effort,” said McDermott. “You never want to come up short. There are no ribbons for second place, and they know that. And so, we go back, we learn from this, and I think we’ll learn things that were really good about this game. One of those is the guts and heart and the intangibles of our football team. And I think we’ve learned some things that weren’t very good, which led to the result. We just didn’t take care of the ball enough and come up with some takeaways but again, I liked the way we fought in all three phases until the end.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism