MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Eric Wood had flashbacks Sunday.
Growing up in Cincinnati, the veteran Buffalo Bills’ center was a die-hard Bengals fan. Those feelings came rushing back to him in the locker room following the Bills’ 22-16 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
A playoff berth belonged to the Bills – if the Bengals could knock off the Baltimore Ravens.
“I rooted for them until I got here,” Wood said. “Not a ton of playoff appearances, and then I get here and they're all of a sudden great. I'm happy for Marvin Lewis. I've got to know him over the years and if that's his last game in Cincinnati, what a way to send him out.”
And what a way for the drought to end. When Andy Dalton hit Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass – coming on fourth and 12, no less – a huge roar went up inside the Bills’ locker room. A couple minutes later, once the Bengals’ defense had wrapped up a 31-27 win that sent Buffalo to the playoffs, the party was on.
“It was wild,” Wood said of the celebration. “We're riding every throw Dalton makes on that last drive, and then he makes the huge play. Then a big stop. We celebrated pretty hard. It's funny. This team's so close -- I'd imagine it would be that situation with any team -- but the way this team interacts, I mean, we jump around to start the beginning of practice, so you can imagine how wild it got when we made it to the playoffs.”
A nine-year veteran, Wood is the second-longest tenured member of the Bills behind only defensive tackle Kyle Williams.
“It means a ton. To get into the playoffs and get a shot to make a run at a Super Bowl is huge” Wood said. “This city has suffered with us. I’m happy for them. They showed up for us today down in Miami. ‘Let's go Buffalo’ chants drowning out the Miami fans. It was a special day.
Wood is the only offensive player to take every offensive snap this season. That comes a year after he played in just nine games because of a broken leg.
“It's an awesome moment,” he said. “It feels incredible, but my visions for this team, my goal for my career are much higher than sniffing a wild-card game. I'm excited to get back to work. I talked to the offense last night and I said, ‘you know, I'm just not ready for this to end.’ It's such a special group of guys. We've done so much this year, I'm just not ready for it to end.”
"It's awesome for Eric," said left guard Richie Incognito, who is one of Wood's best friends. "E-Wood's been here his whole career. Everyone wants to talk down about Buffalo as a team and as a city. I'm just so proud that we get to do this together. A guy like E-Wood, as Buffalo as they come. I'm excited for him. It's a great opportunity."
Story topics: Eric Wood