The Buffalo Bills and Aaron Williams might have dodged a bullet. It was a very scary scene in the corner of the end zone after Julian Edelman’s 22-yard touchdown in New England’s 40-32 win Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
On the play, Williams took an angle at Edelman, dove and injured his neck. He was strapped to a stretcher and taken off by an ambulance.
But after a series of tests, Williams was released from the hospital.
If the Bills are without their safety for any period of time, it would sting.
“It’s going to be a huge loss,” cornerback Nickell Robey said right after the game. “I don’t know what the deal is right now. It’s very important that we have him.”
Williams was not shy in the days leading up to Sunday’s AFC East showdown, saying he did not like the Patriots and how they conducted themselves. And, before the injury, it was a rough day for him. Williams was flagged for taunting and unnecessary roughness earlier in the game and Tom Brady finished with 466 passing yards – the most ever for a Bills opponent.
But he’s also grown from embattled second-round cornerback to (mostly) reliable safety.
Coach Rex Ryan should have more information on Williams’ status at his news conference Monday.
Safety Bacarri Rambo didn’t see the play himself. However, he was encouraged when he saw Williams move.
He was there with Williams, praying.
“Aaron is a strong guy, man,” Rambo said. “Aaron is the true definition of a warrior. I know that injury is not going to hold him back. I know he’ll be back soon – sooner than later. He’s going to fight. Whatever it is, he’s going to fight through that because he’s a strong guy. He fights. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior.”
And players do look to him as the emotional leader of the secondary.
“That’s what he brings to the table,” Rambo said, “and we absorb it and understand what he’s saying and just continue to go out there and play ball.”
If the Bills are without Williams, they’ll need to adjust. Starter Corey Graham returned from his Week One concussion, and the Bills also have Rambo, Duke Williams and practice squad safety Jonathan Meeks.
Rambo added that losing Williams would be “a real big loss.”
“He’s a leader, he’s a vet, he has a lot of experience,” he said. “The guys behind him have to step up and not miss a beat and continue to fight.”
He absolutely could have but, no, Dion Lewis didn’t rub it in Rex Ryan’s face afterward. Leading up to the game, the Bills coach said he didn’t even know the name of the Patriots running back and later added that the team’s real threat at the position was LeGarrette Blount.
Lewis did fumble once, but he also had 40 rushing yards, 98 receiving and two touchdowns.
He says Ryan’s words weren’t any motivation.
“Winning motivates me,” Lewis said. “Being there for my teammates and trying to help my team go 2-0. That’s what motivates me.”
Still, who could’ve seen this rise coming? The former fifth-round pick has been recycled by Philadelphia, Cleveland and Indianapolis before the Patriots signed him.
“If you work hard, anything’s possible,” Lewis said. “You just have to work hard and trust in yourself and then put in the extra work and then you have to make plays. My teammates trust me. My coaches trust me. We come out here and guys make plays, no one’s surprised because we all work so hard.”
The Bills honored Bill Polian at halftime for his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. Polian, the team’s general manager from 1986-1992, helped assemble a four-time AFC champion here in Buffalo before heading to Carolina and then building a Super Bowl champion in Indianapolis.
Back in January, Polian decided not to join Buffalo’s front office again, but he does view the Bills as a contender.
“No matter what happens, there is another game to play against the Patriots,” Polian said at a news conference beforehand. “There are plenty more to play against the AFC East. This is a team that is a contender and no one is going to go undefeated, so there is a long way to go and I have a feeling the Bills are going to be in the fight as long as it lasts and that is the important thing.”
Game on the line, Tom Brady did what he does best. The Patriots quarterback delivered a 29-yard strike deep to Danny Amendola to set up a late field goal.
The one posterized on the play, Robey, was actually in decent position on the play. Blanketing Amendola up the seam, he maintained inside leverage.
So Brady put the ball where only Amendola could get it and the wide receiver dove for the acrobatic catch.
“From the snap, I was looking at him the whole time,” Robey said. “When he looked up for the ball, that’s when I looked up for the ball. Once I looked up, the ball was on my outside. So I was like, ‘Oh, [expletive].’ And then, he just put the throw right on the outside and I was right inside so it was just a really good throw and catch.”
In his locker, Robey re-enacted the play. He shook his head, still in disbelief.
Such a play is what makes Brady different than pretty much any quarterback Buffalo has faced.
“He’s a magician,” Robey said. “He’s smart. He knows match-ups. He knows defenses. He’s been around the game long enough to pick these things.”