The ovation was without question the loudest. Marcell Dareus was the last individual defensive player announced to the sellout crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium during pre-game introductions Sunday. With the emotions of a family at home in Alabama grieving from the loss of a younger brother, Dareus focused on his responsibilities to his team in Buffalo and was rewarded with a much needed victory.
"The team rallied around me, we practice so hard this week," he said. "There's just so much help, so much family back here. Things were just clicking the way they were I just knew we were going to go out there with that fire and pull it through."
Dareus credited his teammates for pulling him through a very trying emotional week, but after Sunday's game it was the players showing gratitude to their teammate, who handled responsibilities to his family back home while also making time to put in a supreme effort to help them post a win in Week 2.
Kyle Williams opened his post-game press conference with an expression of gratitude to Dareus for showing up on Sunday, when no one would've faulted him had he not.
"We have to talk about Marcell and how happy we were to have him back," said Williams. "We talked about it before the game. He's going through a rough time, but he covered his responsibilities here and he always picks our team up and we were glad he was back. He's got a long road in front of him with family issues and things like that, but played a good game and we're happy to have him back and we're here to support him."
"It's amazing," said head coach Chan Gailey. "I'm proud of our football team for rallying around him. It's not easy what he's going through and the situation he finds himself. That's impressive on his part individually and to me impressive about our football team in the way they reacted and helped."
Both of Dareus' tackles in the game went for loss including an eight-yard sack of Matt Cassel. He also had a quarterback hit. Dareus got nicked up and had to pull himself from the game a couple of times, but despite being less than 100 percent and the score on the board lopsided in favor of the Bills, the defensive tackle returned to the lineup.
"That is my relief," said Dareus of being on the field. "Whatever is going on in the outside world I can go to the football field and take it out, out there. Just have fun, be myself and focus in on the field, take everything out of my head."
Dareus planned to return home to Alabama Sunday night, and going back home with a victory should make things easier. The support he felt from the fans on Sunday afternoon will also help.
"I felt like Buffalo fans are the greatest fans in the NFL," he said. "They support us whenever we're down, when we're up, it doesn't matter. It's extended family here, and they made me feel welcome today. I really, really enjoyed it and I really needed it. I want to thank them so much."