If that’s what a vintage 90’s Bills-Dolphins game was like when Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were under center, then sign me up for more!
A thrilling 32-29 Bills victory in the snow punched their ticket into the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. The loss sends the Dolphins to 8-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but still very much in the playoff picture.
As with any physical game, there were several injuries that occurred. Below are all the injuries coming out of Saturday’s win.
C Mitch Morse (Concussion)
The biggest injury of the night, Morse left early in the third quarter with a head injury. After evaluation within the blue medical tent, he was escorted to the locker room for further assessment where it was officially diagnosed that he suffered a concussion.
In the tweet below, the first video shows the very likely hit that he suffered that led to his exit. He did stay in for one more play but either began to have symptoms or possibly one of the independent ATCs called down to have him checked out after being reviewed.
Also mentioned in the tweet above is the fact that this is his sixth publicly documented concussion. He has not had a concussion since Week 8 of the 2020 season for which he missed the following game against the Seattle Seahawks. He was active for the Arizona Cardinals game but did not record a snap.
As expected, there is a lot of concern for his health with that many concussions. His total number may be low compared to guys of yesteryear, but the goal is to make the game safer and six concussions are nothing to gloss over.
On average, it does take about 10 days for a player to return from a concussion, though plenty of players have returned sooner. Others, including teammate Isaiah McKenzie this season needed additional time to get right.
Morse must pass through the NFL concussion protocol, a five-stage protocol that allows progressive ramp-up to an eventual clearance by an independent neurologist. While his prior concussions do make him more susceptible to future ones, his past concussions can also lengthen his timeline to return. Those that have had three or more concussions are 3-times-higher risk of repeat concussions.
In addition, those who have had three or more concussions were likely to suffer an incident concussion, meaning that a regular hit could cause a concussion where this would not have the same effect on a person without a prior history. Furthermore, 30 percent of those that have had 3+ concussions take longer than one week to recover compared to 14.6 percent with one prior concussion.
This research is from 2003, so I do take it with some level of hesitancy in terms of available updated research, but there also isn’t vast amounts of information on individuals with multiple concussions either.
The Bills have been cautious with his approach in the past, allowing him the entirety of training camp to recover from his fourth concussion in 2019. While they do not have the luxury of giving him weeks, they also do have to give him the time he needs to recover fully, whether it be one week, three weeks, or more if necessary.
Many are concerned for his long-term health, and rightfully so. But Morse has discussed his outlook back in 2019 and from reading the article by Matt Parrino of NYUP/Syracuse.com in the tweet above, he has a healthy viewpoint. The Bills believe in his health so much that they extended him an additional two years back in March of this year.
If they had concerns about how to manage his concussion history or his longevity, then I think they take a different approach. The only thing I personally will be looking at is how long he takes to return. Whether it takes one week or three, the Bills know how they want to manage this situation.
The final point about this is that I do not believe he goes on injured reserve unless it is that severe from the get-go. If he went on IR, he would miss the final three regular-season games along with the first playoff game. That would make him eligible to return in the divisional playoffs or AFC championship, depending on if the Bills can get the one seed or not.
That would be a risky play not going into the playoffs with their starting center unless he truly wasn’t healthy. The Bills will not and should not rush Morse back and he shouldn’t let himself either.
I don’t expect that he plays the next game against the Chicago Bears, but after that, let’s see where he is at in his timeline.
DE AJ Epenesa (Left elbow)
Epenesa left the field briefly for medical attention sometime in the third quarter, later returning with a left elbow wrap. Prior to this, he was wearing a sleeve on the same elbow. Below is the last play prior to exiting.
It’s not clear what he is dealing with, but this could be an injury that shows up on the injury report on Tuesday. He wasn’t mentioned in the press conference Sunday, but those don’t always paint the full picture. We will have to wait and see what happened.
DE Boogie Basham (Calf)
Basham was the surprise addition to the injury list Sunday, listed as day-to-day. I did attempt to go find the film where he injured the calf and it is not clear when he suffered the injury.
His last play was the Tyreek Hill touchdown with 2:30 left in the third quarter. He may have either injured it on that play off-camera or injured it prior and did not realize it at the time. I am not hopeful he is able to play on Saturday, especially how poor footing with the natural grass at Soldier Field in Chicago. In addition, there is an expected winter storm coming which could complicate things further.
Calf injuries take on average 17.4 days to return which means this injury could linger past next week, though the injury reports will dictate his progress.
CB Cam Lewis (Undisclosed)
Lewis injured himself on the roughing the kicker play that game the Dolphins 15 yards and a fresh set of downs late in the third quarter.
Watching the clip above, Morestead lands on Lewis fairly hard, leaving Lewis slow to get up, though this may have been more from embarrassment. He did go into the medical tent shortly after, but he was able to return to the game.
WR Stefon Diggs (Right hip)
Diggs scared the fan base when he grabbed at his right hip after going down for a 5-yard pass in the third quarter.
Looking at the video again, he might have tweaked the hamstring as he was already bent over, stretching the hamstring complex. When the defender came in and hit his knee into extension, this may have further overstretched the area briefly.
He was able to play on the next snap and still played on 86 percent of the snaps. I’m not certain he even appears on the injury report this week. If he does, here is a possible reason.
G Ike Boettger (Left Achilles)
There isn’t really any new information on Boettger other than his 21-day window closed on Sunday. The team did make a decision on his status that had to be reported to the league office, but it wasn’t publicly announced.
By the time you’re reading this, he either was put on IR or activated to the 53-man roster.
The Bills are 11-3 with games left against the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots. Guys are slowly starting to get healthier and several players are expected to return soon including Jordan Phillips and Ryan Bates who are said to be “improving”.
Others including Jake Kumerow and Christian Benford are eligible to return soon from injured reserve. Kumerow has taken his four-game minimum when he was placed on IR on November 17 while Benford is eligible after the Bears game. Jamison Crowder is still working off to the side in the hopes he can return late after suffering a broken left ankle in Week 4. Even Micah Hyde’s return is a pipe dream after his neck surgery, but the team has left the door open when discussing him.
It’s been a rough season from an injury perspective, but the team may be peaking at the right time and also getting healthier.
Top Photo Credit: Timothy T Ludwig | Credit: Getty Images