There’s a reason that there have been only two teams to go undefeated in the regular season and only one that won it all.
Winning is really hard in the NFL.
Even when the game is literally one play from being over as we saw on the QB sneak, that’s why guys give their all on every play. You never know what could happen. Losing 33-30 to a now 8-1 Minnesota Vikings team is nothing to scoff at, but personally, I would rather lose these games rather than give a win away to a lesser team.
The Bills should win these games, but they didn’t. Does this make them bad? That’s highly subjective. What I do want to see is that they don’t do this stuff in January. Do it now, get the taste out of your mouth, and know what it feels like this season.
Injuries have certainly contributed to these shortcomings this season and this game was no exception. Below are the injuries following Sunday’s loss.
WR Gabe Davis (Back/Thumb)
Davis took a hard shot while trying to catch a pass over the middle late in the first quarter with 2:38 left, slow to get up after. Looking at the video below, he got hit hard in the air in the middle of the back, falling to the turf.
He was able to return after a brief absence and this injury appears to be a non-issue moving forward. While this was the only injury for Davis on Sunday afternoon, it’s also worth highlighting that he has been working through a thumb issue, a side not specified recently. This was noted in The Buffalo News on Sunday morning.
It’s not clear when he injured the thumb, but it appears it was around the same time that he injured his right ankle prior to Week 2. In the article, he states he screwed it up pretty badly and that impacted his ability to prepare. This could explain why he has been inconsistent in catching the ball the past few weeks.
S Damar Hamlin (Head)
Hamlin briefly required an evaluation in the blue medical tent late in the first quarter looking at the hit below with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
It’s very possible he went in for a concussion check and was cleared, missing only one play total on the day. While this is a minor issue, there have been plenty of times when what appeared to be a minor injury or issue turned out to be something more or linger.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Groin)
Edmunds did not return to the second half of the game, questionable with a groin injury shortly announced after halftime. Heading into the game, he was questionable with the same designation along with a heel issue. It’s not clear when he injured the groin, but the play below could be a good candidate with 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
Considering how the defense played before and after his exit, the risk vs reward component of deciding whether he should play was evident. It’s disappointing that he re-injured the area, but it was a risk the team was willing to make in order to have a chance at winning.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left ankle)
Kumerow exited the game with 10:28 left in the third quarter after injuring his left leg on the punt coverage. He attempted to tackle the returner before getting knocked out of bounds but appeared to receive friendly fire that either hit his ankle or rolled up on or seen below.
While Kumerow has been designated as week-to-week, hopefully, it is not another high-ankle sprain. He regrettably dealt with that, missing three games and four weeks overall. The video angle alone does not indicate exactly the mechanism of injury. At this time, I am not confident that this is the injury.
Look for him to miss the next two games due to the short week and then see how he is for the Patriots game.
RB Devin Singletary (Wind knocked out)
Singletary briefly required attention from the training staff after a run up the middle with 5:39 left in the third quarter. By video, he appeared to land on the football as he was tackled, adding a little extra pressure on his ribs/abdomen area from a Vikings defender.
This appeared to be more pain than injury and he was able to return to the game after gathering himself.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (Right hand)
While blocking for Dawson Knox’s catch with 4:10 left in the third quarter, McKenzie got his right hand crushed as Knox ran into him and the blocker ran out of bounds as seen below.
Once again, more of a pain versus injury issue, but this did not appear to affect McKenzie’s game, catching several more passes before the game was completed.
QB Josh Allen (Left knee/thigh)
On his first interception in the game, Allen attempted to tackle Vikings CB Patrick Peterson as he ran up the left side of the field. Allen was hit low from the right on his outside by Peterson as he began to fall. This caused him to begin to fall on Peterson. While this is happening, Dion Dawkins attempts to take an angle to block Peterson’s path and attempts to tackle him.
Regrettably, friendly fire strikes again as Dawkins left shoulder hits the left thigh/knee area of Allen, causing him to be down for a moment as trainers rushed out to him. Fortunately, this was temporary and Allen was able to return.
OT Dion Dawkins (Left shoulder)
On the same play above, Dawkins crashed into Allen trying to tackle Patrick Peterson, injuring his left shoulder as he fell to the ground.
He was able to stay in the game and by my assessment, this did not appear to affect his play.
S Cam Lewis (Lower body)
Lewis appeared to suffer some type of lower body injury falling out of bounds seen below with 8:00 left in the fourth quarter.
By video, it’s difficult to see what happened as the players along the sidelines were blocking the camera. He briefly required attention from the trainers on the field before returning. We may get some clarity if he shows up on the injury report.
CB Tre’Davious White (Left ACL)
There is now discussion about whether Tre’Davious White’s long-awaited debut is more related to any physical or mental issues as seen below.
Coach Sean McDermott has repeatedly noted that White has not had any setbacks. Recalling from memory, they have said that dating back to August. They also took their time in whether to activate or keep him on the PUP during roster cut-down days. The same went for his 21-day practice window. By my assessment, he looks good in practice from a physical standpoint.
If there is a mental component, then that is another issue altogether.
A person, not just an athlete, a person has to trust themselves in their ability to perform. Whether it be getting up, walking, driving, taking a shower, eating, etc. They have to trust in their abilities to perform that task correctly.
I’ve dealt with this issue myself both personally and professionally. Personally, I suffered a number of different major sports injuries that required surgery to correct. It took a lot of rehab and time to get back comfortable, understanding that while the injury could happen again, it doesn’t mean that it will.
Professionally, there have been plenty of people that have suffered a sports injury, motor vehicle accident, or fall that later led to performance issues after they healed. Showing them the objective measures in terms of strength, speed, and performance on tests/activities before and after the injury can help in regaining that confidence.
But everyone comes to their own conclusion in their head on their own time. This can’t be forced either. It makes it more difficult when that person is getting paid millions of dollars to be able to perform at a high level.
It would not surprise me if there was a mental component of “Will I injure the knee again?” “Can I trust the knee?” or “Will I be able to return to the same level of play?”
Speaking in generalities again, talking to people that have gone through a similar experience can help with regaining confidence. Visualization techniques such as seeing yourself doing the activity in your head, talking the task out loud as you do it, and others can help restore that confidence.
But everyone responds differently.
Back last year after he suffered the injury, I did highlight All-Pros CB and S that suffered an ACL tear that later came back and achieved All-Pro again. The purpose of that is to highlight that it is possible to return to a high level of play even after this injury. Sometimes people need to see comparisons to themselves to build that confidence.
Tre’Davious White can and should return when he’s ready. He has earned that right. I am sure his teammates don’t want a teammate that they can’t trust out there if he can’t trust himself.
However long it takes, so be it. It can’t be rushed. I wish him the best of luck.
QB Josh Allen (Right elbow)
Josh Allen gave the Buffalo Bills the best chance to win Sunday.
That’s what it boiled down to. It was a calculated risk to have Allen play through an elbow injury that could have affected his play and I believe could have worsened under the right circumstances.
The offensive line kept him clean in the pocket for the most part other than two sacks and when Allen ran the ball. But he wasn’t pressured like in other games, he wasn’t hit often, and the team did well to maximize his abilities within the restrictions.
McDermott did note that Allen is still day-to-day, signifying the injury is still present. The injury could have been as significant as the reports said it was. But if he showed he was able to perform despite the injury, then he gave them the best chance to win. Both statements could be true.
I have understood not to question the Bills’ medical staff. They have gotten countless guys ready for Sunday that had no business suiting up and I am certain they gave QB1 every resource available.
While I do strive to be as detailed and accurate as possible with research, reports, and my professional opinion included. I was incorrect.
It’s very possible other players would have sat out with this injury, but not every player is Josh Allen. It appears that the reward outweighed the risk in this instance.
Keep in mind that this elbow injury will not disappear now that he played one game. If he can get through this next week against the Browns and Lions, then I believe it can disappear altogether.
Excellent job on Bills’ medical staff to do the work to get him ready and trust their judgment. It did give the Bills the best chance of winning that game.
Top Photo Credit: Ron Schwane | Credit: AP