There was a lot of talk afterwards about who had been in the Buffalo Bills’ dressing room and when. In particular, Damar Hamlin’s visit at half-time caused a stir. The Super Bowl contender’s defender had suffered a heart attack in the same game with the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks earlier. Now he had come to Highmark Stadium as a motivator, for the first time since leaving hospital; before the game and at half-time he had met his team-mates. After the game, in turn, receiver Stefon Diggs left the loose room a little too fast. For the closing words of the coaches, he had to be brought back again.
Apparently Diggs also wanted away from Josh Allen after that clear smack. In front of his quarterback, on the sidelines during a break in the game, he had spread his arms several times and probably told him that he rarely got the ball. The most important point provider after Allen himself came to a paltry 35 yards against the Bengals that night. And the Bills in their own stadium just ten points. Final score: a surprisingly clear 10:27.
They were the only favorite eliminated over the weekend of the Divisional Playoffs. Ironically, the weatherproof Bills seemed hampered by the constant snowstorm, while the Bengals had “a good plan,” as Josh Allen put it. Above all, they acted much more as a team than the so-called Bills Mafia, a name for the fans, but which the team is happy to adopt. While a lot depends on the Allen/Diggs duo working for the Bills, the Bengals have several above-average pass receivers. In addition, the heavy boys on the line clearly dominated on both sides: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow rarely came under pressure, Josh Allen very often. The visitors’ running game was therefore more successful, with 172 yards compared to the sluggish Bills’ 63 yards.
What will stick with this season is the shock moment when Damar Hamlin fell unconscious to the ground
The semifinals on Sunday will be contested in the two conferences by the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC. In the AFC, the Bengals travel to the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27:20 despite a ligament injury to their playmaker Patrick Mahomes. The healing process in Mahome’s right ankle alone decides who is the favorite in this duel.
Due to the Bills’ exit, the planned novelty of a semi-final on a neutral pitch (in this case: Atlanta) does not happen at all. The National had that football League (NFL) in the case of the Chiefs vs. Bills duel. Buffalo’s game of the season against Cincinnati was abandoned after Hamlin’s heart attack and was not counted. Judging by the number of losses, the Bills and the Chiefs were tied after the regular season.
The frustration of the Bills on Sunday evening was understandable insofar as the longing for the Lombardi Trophy is particularly strong among the team and fans. They have never been champions; in the 1990s they lost four Super Bowl games in a row. Then things went quiet for the team from upstate New York, and it wasn’t until 2017 that they made the playoffs for the first time this century. It’s been going really well since then. First, because division rivals the New England Patriots’ era of success is over. And second, because Josh Allen is one of the most spectacular quarterbacks in the league. His only problem is that he fails spectacularly in the playoffs. The 26-year-old native of California simply declared the season that has just ended to be “null and void” – winning the division, reaching the second round of the playoffs, such things count for the team, which is the most successful among the untitled, so to speak nothing more.
Of course, a lot will stick with us from this season. First, the shock moment when Damar Hamlin fell unconscious to the ground. Combined with the purely sporting fact that Hamlin was missing at all defensive corners and ends this time – Jordan Poyer, like Hamlin responsible for the backcourt of the defense, was always a few centimeters too far away from the opponent when Joe Burrow made the decisive throws; towards the end he also had to leave the field with a suspected concussion.
On the other hand, images of unsuccessful anger management remain from this Bills season. Stefon Diggs’ indiscipline after the defeat is only a side note. The black screen will burn in after offensive coach Ken Dorsey’s freak out. When the away game in Miami was lost by the narrowest of margins at the end of September, he destroyed the camera filming him. The Bills will probably only achieve ultimate success if defeats are not always declared null and void.