ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — The first unit that set the tone for the Buffalo Bills was the offense. Their historic night certainly helped Leslie Frazier's unit make the Patriots offense even more uncomfortable. But a hustle play in the first quarter from Micah Hyde helped the defense set a tone of their own.
Let the snowball effect begin.
"That was such a huge play, right? By one of our leaders and one of the guys that we can all count on. So he stepped up in a big moment for us," head coach Sean McDermott said. "From my angle it was a great play. I was telling the guys I can't wait to watch it to really get a feel for the type of play that it was."
"I got a late jump on it honestly. I feel like I could've gotten an earlier jump and I didn't believe it right away. But when I knew he was throwing it I just put my head down and started running," Hyde said. "I just looked up at the last second and the ball was there. And so I was able to make a play on it."
The Bills defense always preaches a "bend, don't break" mentality. But for the entire first half, Buffalo barely even bent. They allowed just three points in the first half. By the time New England finally found the end zone, the floodgates had already opened.
Cornerback Levi Wallace joined Hyde in picking off Mac Jones. The tipped ball was ripe for the picking and helped swing all the momentum of the football game back to the Bills. Buffalo also got to Mac Jones three times; Jerry Hughes was one of those. The longest tenured Bill had never seen anything like the atmosphere at Highmark Stadium on this frigid Saturday night.
"It felt amazing, just because of the stage that it was done on," Hughes said. "With the Mafia up in the stands, cheering, being crazy, being what they are, you know? The best fans in the NFL. It felt amazing."
Even with 17 points on the board for New England by the end of the game, tonight's contest felt monumentally better than the 14 points surrendered to the Bills' loss to the Patriots in Orchard Park a month and a half ago. The Bills gave up 89 rushing yards on Saturday. On December 6, they gave up 222. And some of the players haven't forgotten it.
"It was a little bit on my mind. But I think the real thing was the disrespect [Jordan] Poyer and Micah [Hyde] got coming in here," Hughes said. "We felt like one way to shut people up is to go out and play football."
"I don't think that either of those games meant anything coming into this game. We just wanted to go out there and be us," Poyer said. "We felt coming in that we were the better team, and that's what we showed tonight."
Buffalo has continued to show that they're better than a lot of teams. This weekend's performance could go into the dictionary under "complementary football." The 2021 Bills have had to face much more adversity than last year's squad. And whether you look at the statistics, or ask the players lining up for every snap, this year's Buffalo defense has shown that they're better for it.
"When we finished the regular season, through all the highs and lows, as the number one defense in the NFL. The number one defense in the world. I think that was a chip that we need to keep on our shoulder," Harrison Phillips said. "The DNA of the Buffalo Bills is to remain humble and always have a growth mindset of what we can do next. But in that same humble approach, we're very proud of what we've accomplished."
The Bills have a chance to keep the accomplishments rolling, but they'll have to wait 24 hours to find out who they'll have to stop next. Depending on Sunday night's Pittsburgh-Kansas City game, Buffalo will either host the Bengals or visit the Chiefs.