Chris Spielman couldn't deny it after the game.
The Buffalo Bills' victory over his old team, the Detroit Lions, was extra special for him. In fact, he wanted it bad.
"It did (mean a lot)," Spielman said after the Bills' 22-13 triumph. "I didn't think it would, but it does."
Spielman was especially moved by the response of his former teammates as he left the field. About 20 of them came over to him and hugged him.
"That meant a lot to me," Spielman said. "That shows what we went through in eight years -- and it wasn't as stable as this place -- we went through a lot and we overcame a lot. They have the same respect for me still that I have for them. It kind of ends a chapter in my football life."
Spielman had nine tackles in the game and helped the Bills contain Barry Sanders. The Lions' back gained 107 yards, but was mostly held in check.
"We know Barry is great," Spielman said. "We were in the film room cheering him. 'Oooo, look at that play.'
"I thought we contained him as well as anybody except for one 40-yard run, which we had him penned in on . . . and then he was gone."
Both Bills assistant coach Elijah Pitts and team president Ralph Wilson missed the game due to surgeries in the past week.
Pitts was listed in good condition at Buffalo General Hospital after surgery on his colon.
"I don't know the exact details," coach Marv Levy said. "The first signs were encouraging after surgery, but they said they still wanted to get a full report back from the pathology lab."
Wilson was recuperating at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., after his surgery.
"Ralph had back surgery," Levy said. "His back has been bothering him, and it was getting worse and worse. He debated whether he should have surgery. It was fairly extensive. He's recuperating from it now. He called us and wished us luck and told me he might miss a game or two."
Antowain Smith's 56-yard TD run with 1:47 left was his fourth TD of the season and the second straight game in which he scored on a long run in the closing minutes. He had a 54-yard TD run against the Colts.
Left guard Ruben Brown made a fantastic lead block on the play. Dusty Zeigler, Jerry Ostroski and Corey Louchiey walled off the back side of the Lions' defense.
Smith became the first Bill to have two straight games with a run of 50 or more yards since 1964, when Cookie Gilchrist did it. O.J. Simpson never did it in back-to-back games.
"I'm going to have to start making those plays in the first or second quarter," Smith said. "However, it feels good that we got the win."
Bruce Smith came off the field for one play several different times in the second half due to a sore knee.
"I have some problems going on with my knee right now, bone spurs, and I believe one of the bone spurs is actually cracked," Smith said. "I'm trying to overcompensate for my right knee and my left knee started giving me some problems. After a 13-year career it's just wear and tear, and that's the hazards of the game."
Smith had one sack in the game. Bryce Paup, Henry Jones and Sam Rogers also had sacks.
Pete Metzelaars, the No. 3 all-time receptions leader in Bills history, made his fourth start for the Lions. It was the 225th NFL game for the 37-year-old Metzelaars, the most by a tight end in NFL history. He caught two passes.
Jim Ritcher and Charley Ferguson were recipients of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award before the game. The award honors former players who have given outstanding service to the team and the area. Ritcher played a team-record 222 games for the Bills from 1980-93. He made two Pro Bowls. Ferguson starred at tight end from 1963-66.