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Week in desert has unanticipated benefit

Posted Oct 15, 2012


Head coach Chan Gailey made the decision to keep his team on the west coast with back-to-back games against NFC West opponents San Francisco and Arizona. The main purpose was to keep the players body clocks on Pacific time and make just one cross country flight instead of two. What Gailey’s team got out of the week of isolation may have served a much more important purpose.

“I didn’t know it at the time before we set it up and I didn’t know it during the course of the week,” said Gailey. “But talking to the guys late this week and hearing them talk to each other I think it was valuable for us.”

For the players it was an opportunity to focus solely on football after a humiliating loss at San Francisco. The criticism from the fan base was rampant back in Buffalo, but the players were none the wiser.

“In Arizona we were away from the distractions so it was just us in Arizona, so it was kind of a chance for us to soul search and get corrected what we needed to get corrected without the distractions of being at home,” said Jairus Byrd. “It was kind of like a retreat to get away and it was great for us mentally to be able to just regroup.”

Buffalo appeared to be a much more resilient team Sunday, especially their embattled defensive unit. Right from the very first play they had to defend a short field yielding just a field goal after an early fumble by the offense at their own 33-yard line.

“Being here the whole week and us being around each other every day with no distractions – just looking at it with us against the world mentality—we needed it big time,” said Mario Williams.

Even after the work day was done last week players spent time together much like a training camp setting, and it was clear that some real team bonding took place.

“It couldn’t have been a more perfect time to be out here in Arizona all week, not going to our separate homes and being together and having those conversations at lunch time, dinner time, in the evening spending time with each other,” said George Wilson. “Our guys rallied together and it really showed.”

And for the young players that are still learning the NFL game, the time spent with veteran players during the past week served a purpose as well.

“Guys had to lean on each other while we were out here,” said Fred Jackson. “We leaned on each other during the game. Defense played well, special teams played well, and offense, we made plays. So I think guys are growing up and coming together.”