Even though Buffalo Bills rookies WR Khalil Shakir and DT Prince Emili didn't fill the stat sheets on Sunday afternoon, their crucial second half plays made for unsung contributions in the team's 23-20 comeback victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs said after Sunday's thrilling win that he and other leaders on the team expect their teammates that may not be as involved every game to be ready when called upon.
That opportunity arose for Shakir when the Bills were down two receivers after Isaiah McKenzie (concussion) and Jamison Crowder (ankle) left the game early and did not return.
Shakir stepped up at a crucial time and delivered how the team needed him to. The rookie recorded two receptions for 23 yards, one being his first catch in the NFL that went went for 14 yards and a first down. Both of Shakir's receptions were pivotal in moving the ball down the field on the final two drives which allowed QB Josh Allen to run in an 11-yard TD and then K Tyler Bass to close out the game with a walk-off field goal.
"I spoke highly of him (Shakir) in training camp as far as how he approaches the game," Diggs said. "And going into this game, he was active. But he never prepares like he's not ready, so I have full confidence in him."
As for Emili, who has been elevated from the practice squad for Buffalo's last two games, his opportunity also came in Baltimore with defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver still out of the lineup with injuries.
"Our young guys really take advantage of the opportunity when the opportunity presents itself," said LB Von Miller.
Emili was involved in three tackles, but the undrafted rookie's presence was really felt on the opening play in the fourth quarter. Emili's feet left the ground just in time to tip QB Lamar Jackson's pass that was intended for TE Mark Andrews that instead, found the hands of safety Jordan Poyer for his first interception of the afternoon.
"He's (Emili) the type of athlete that really works extremely hard," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "His work ethic along with his physical talent allowed him to go out and really help us yesterday to win that ballgame."