Sean McDermott said some of his assistant coaches tried to get some sleep on the plane ride home from Miami on Sunday night.
Good luck with that.
The party for the Buffalo Bills started in the locker room of Hard Rock Stadium and continued on their Delta charter home after the team’s 22-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Coupled with a Cincinnati victory over Baltimore, the Bills’ 17-year playoff drought became a thing of the past.
“Kind of hard to throttle down after an evening like that,” McDermott said. It was “great to see our fans when we got back into town. An incredible situation when we got back at the airport. Just awesome to see. ... let’s not forget it was minus-6 degrees on my dashboard and it wasn’t 8 p.m. It was 2 a.m. and there’s little kids out there. It was pretty neat.
"Overall, just great to see. From the flight attendants when we got on board, to the players interacting with other staff members and staff members that have been here a long time that have carried this for a while. It’s fun to watch the players just also really kind of relax a little bit and enjoy the moment together."
The buzz from New Year’s Eve hasn’t worn off for the Bills, or their fans. The organic nature of the celebrations – both in the locker room and among fans spread throughout the country – were captured on video and widely shared on social media.
"But I had a chance to see some of it ... and it’s really just a neat thing to be a part of," McDermott said. "Whether you’re a head coach or Joe Smith in the community or whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a neat thing to say you were a part of it and you were there when it happened. One of the things that stand out that brought a tear to my eye a little bit is when they showed the reaction of the different restaurants and get-together places that were going on out there of the different reactions when we got in and then the concourse, the setting in the concourse when our fans who were at the game were watching the Cincinnati game count down there. It was pretty cool to watch."
The end of the drought led the popular Monday Morning Quarterback column by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. Popular websites Deadspin and Barstool Sports, which are geared toward younger audiences, also had posts about the Bills' win.
“I want everyone to enjoy it. It’s been a long time coming, like I mentioned last night and earlier today,” McDermott said. “I don’t want to move on too fast.”
McDermott, though, said the Bills need to adhere to their “24-hour rule” of enjoying a win before moving onto the next opponent, in this case the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I was asked the question last week, ‘What would it mean?’ It meant another step in our development as a football team, as an organization,” McDermott said. “The experience that we got within the last week of playing in that type of game, a must-win game. Then also, the experience that we’re getting now going into this week that a lot of our young players or even players that have been around the NFL, this team, what have you, haven’t been in this situation. There is some leadership challenges within that, there is also a mindset challenge that we have to get buckled back in after today and hit the reset button so we can focus on the task at hand. There’s so much experience, and valuable experience that we can learn and take from the last two weeks here. We’ll see how far we go here.”
To that end, it's a normal week as far as practice goes. With the game at 1 p.m. Sunday, players will take their usual Tuesday off and then return to practice Wednesday.
"I’d probably say the big thing is not to get caught up in trying to anything more than what they’ve done up to this point," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "There’s a tendency, sometimes, when you get to the playoffs – and it is in a lot of ways a new season – but you don’t have to reinvent yourself. Some of the things you’ve done really well, continue to build on those; those things you haven’t done as well, you still work to improve on those. I think if you take that approach, you have a chance to stay within yourself and not try to do more than you actually are capable of doing."
Both Frazier and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison equated the jump in intensity level from the regular season to the playoffs as being similar to the one from the preseason to the regular season.
"It goes up another level now and I understand the intensity that we had the last few weeks," Dennison said. "We had to do some things to get in, so they understand the pressure and the intensity, but it’s also something that they can really enjoy and sit back and soak in, too."