Buffalo Bills wide receiver and punt returner Deonte Harty has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance in Buffalo's division-clinching 21-14 win over the Miami Dolphins Sunday night.
Harty returned just one of Miami's five punts, maneuvering around the Dolphins' punt coverage on his way to a 96-yard touchdown, which broke Buffalo's previous longest punt return record.
The touchdown served as a much-needed morale boost, tying the score at 14 and providing Buffalo with the momentum necessary to take over the fourth quarter. After Harty's punt return, the Dolphins gained just 27 yards across three drives, punting twice and turning the ball over on their final possession of the game.
Head coach Sean McDermott himself said that the improved play Buffalo experienced in the second half was "sparked" by Harty's return.
"When you look at the blocks on that play, the execution level was very high and the way the players finished the play, and once you get Deonte going, he can do the rest as everyone saw," McDermott said. "But to me, it was the mindset, the attitude, the urgency, the intensity of each man doing their job to get him started there."
The award is Harty's first Player of the Week award in his four-year career. Harty was named a Pro-Bowler and First Team All-Pro returner in 2019 with the New Orleans Saints.