No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! Circle the wagons they did with a convincing win over the Denver Broncos 20-3 on Sunday at New Era Field! From my observations, I did not see a play, series, or point in time where the Broncos were ever in control. It was not a blowout but a rather convincing win to move the Bills to 8-3, the best mark through 12 games since 1996. Think about where you were at that time; I was 8 & still watched Power Rangers. The original ones, with Jason the Green Power Ranger. Yea, that takes you back.
Anyway, it’s a great feeling to be 8-3 with a march towards the playoffs despite a tough schedule in the coming weeks. However, to make matters difficult, the Bills have to turn around and play Thursday in prime-time against the Dallas Cowboys. Thankfully, the Bills did not suffer a major injury which gives them a better shot to compete. Below are the injuries from Sunday.
C Mitch Morse (right 5th digit)
Morse suffered a right 5th digit or pinky finger injury with 1:56 left in the 1st quarter when Broncos DE Von Miller sacked QB Josh Allen for a 5-yard loss. Morse was engaged with his blocker before falling down, landing with his right hand. He came up grabbing it & did not return for the rest of the day. He was later observed on the sideline practicing snapping to QB Matt Barkley, then going to the locker room before halftime.
I did manage to see that his 4th & 5th digits on his right hand were buddy taped indicating that he possibly jammed his finger when he fell down. To note, this is the hand that he snaps with. He did not return to play in the game but appeared to be available in case of injury. Suffering an injury to the 5th digit or pinky is crucial to Morse’s ability to play. Having pain or weakness in the hypothenar eminence which is the intrinsic hand muscles that account for 40% of grip strength really affects his ability to snap the ball. Think how painful it is when you can’t fully use your hand after it’s been hit. Now try to fully grip & squeeze an NFL football.
It’s not to say that he couldn’t come back, but with OG Jon Feliciano as a very capable backup, there wasn’t a need for him to return. Morse stated after the game that he would take it day-to-day and that he should be fine. All he will need is some brief rehab to make sure he has full motion & strength return, possibly buddy tape the area for support & be able to play Thursday.
WR Cole Beasley (left ankle)
Beasley scared everyone when he went down late in the 2nd quarter on a designed run play by RB Devin Singletary. Beasley was blocking his assigned man when Broncos LB Todd Davis kicked his left ankle out from under him while diving trying to tackle Singletary. Beasley was in obvious pain & quickly attended to by trainers on the field. He was able to walk off under his own power & eventually return, scoring a TD in the 3rd quarter.
He finished the day 6-76-1, signaling that his ankle contusion was not going to be a problem. Like Morse, he may require brief rehab, more for pain & possible swelling in preparation for Thursday. He could possibly wear a compression sleeve under his sock but I see no scenario in where he doesn’t play against his former team Thursday.
WR Robert Foster (right hamstring)
Foster finally broke out with by far his best game in an overall disappointing season with a 22-yard run followed by a 24-yard catch in the 3rd quarter in where he was injured. He managed to catch the ball with 14:17 left in the 3rd quarter, streaking down the sideline before getting pushed out by Broncos S Justin Simmons. Foster was forced to load up his right leg to account for the sudden hit & attempted to slow down. Unfortunately, as he decelerated, he suffered what appeared to be pulled hamstring, requiring assistance from the training staff to get off the field.
This is a common way to suffer a hamstring injury & his return was questionable, but he did not return the rest of the game. It’s possible that he was dealing with cramping in the area, but considering how he suffered the injury, it appears to be more of a strain. Barring a miraculous recovery, I do not see him suiting up Thursday against the Cowboys. Fortunately, the Bills have WR Duke Williams who is healthy & quite eager to play, having been inactive the past 4 games.
Foster may miss the Baltimore game based on past hamstring management by the team, but considering he will have extra time to rest & rehab, there’s an outside chance he returns. We will have to see how available he is in practice following the Cowboys game.
As expected, OT Ty Nsekhe (right ankle) & S Siran Neal (concussion) were ruled out before Sunday. Nsekhe is nowhere near being ready to play & had shown on Instagram that he was getting rehab daily, seen below. Neal is in Stage 2 of the concussion protocol & it is unknown if he will progress fast enough to be ready to play Thursday.
DE Jerry Hughes was held off the stat sheet Sunday by Broncos OT Garett Bolles & dealing with a groin injury. Hughes was able to provide some pressure today but overall didn’t have the impact that he typically has in the game. It’s possible that his groin may be slowing him, it’s not something I can clearly see on film. Either way, I still expect him to play Thursday because he’s playing already, why not play Thursday & then he will get 9 days off.
On a special note, congratulations to RB Frank Gore who ran into 3rd place on the NFL all-time rushing yards list. He passed the immortal Barry Sanders & continues to show everyone how the job gets done. The career he has had despite all the early injuries including ACL tears to both knees in college before entering the NFL. From a fan perspective, it’s incredible watching historic events such as that.
The Bills will have practice this week like usual but it will obviously be condensed. I expect most practices to be walkthroughs as they heal their bodies up. Besides Foster, there shouldn’t be any big losses unless someone developed concussion symptoms after the game. It will be a quick 3-day turnaround before the Bills play on Thanksgiving. By Wednesday, there will be a much clearer injury picture heading to Dallas.
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