On Wednesday, the Bills and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 6,772 fans will be allowed in Bills Stadium for Buffalo's first home playoff game since 1996. This comes after what has been one of the best seasons for the Bills in recent years and Bills Mafia hasn't been able to see the team in person. This week, the Bills prepare for a Week 17 matchup against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins and a win will clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Coach Sean McDermott spoke on what having fans for the Wild Card playoff game means to the team.
"I think it's exciting news," McDermott said on his weekly call with WGR 550. "We're certainly happy to have our fans anytime we can get them. I know there was a lot of hard work that was put into this with Governor Cuomo and his office, Terry and Kim and our office over here and our organization as well. So, a lot of hard work and we're just thankful for it. I think the biggest thing though is this doesn't change, in terms of the approach, everyone's got to be safe, smart and come out of this all for the better, hopefully."
"I'm really looking forward to it"
Stefon Diggs has not seen the crowds or heard what Bills Mafia brings to a home Bills game. He got a taste of it at the airport after the team won the AFC East in Week 15. Diggs is having a career year in his first year with the Bills talked about playing in front of fans for the first time all season.
"It's definitely something that I look forward to," Diggs said. "Just because I got a little bit of a taste of it after the game when they knew we made it in the playoffs. I really look forward to it just because we haven't had fans all year and that's something that you can try to take advantage of in the postseason. I try not to think too far ahead right now, but I've kind of been focused on this week."
"It's gonna be electric and I'm excited for it"
Micah Hyde was one of the first free agents that was signed in the McDermott era back in 2017. He has trusted the process and worked through all the ups and downs of the past four seasons. Hyde is excited for Bills Mafia to watch the team play in the playoffs but did enjoy not being asked for tickets throughout the regular season.
"I kind of enjoyed this season just being real mellow and a lot of people not blowing me up for tickets and all that stuff," Hyde stated. "But it's definitely rewarding to be able to have a home playoff game that you've been working for the last four years and fans are able to come. It's gonna be electric and I'm excited for it. Obviously, we got a game before that we are all anticipating playing in. And I'm excited for Bills Mafia because it's been such a great season, and they haven't been able to be at the home games."
"They've been playing extremely well"
The Miami Dolphins defense is much improved from the 2019 season and even from the last time the Bills and Dolphins played each other in Week 2. Miami's defense ranks first in points allowed and first in third-down percentage. Buffalo comes into this game ranked first in third-down conversion percentage, so it will be a battle of the teams' two strengths. Josh Allen who threw for a career-high 415 passing yards and four touchdowns against Miami back in Week 2, knows that this defense has improved since the last time he saw them.
"They've been playing extremely well," Allen explained. "They force a lot of turnovers; their defensive line has been getting after the quarterback pretty well, and the players on the back end are really good players. So, they're gonna play a lot of man to man, that's what we know they've been doing. We'll adjust to anything else that they throw at us but it's a team that can strike fast, and they can get you. So, you got to be on top of everything and play very, very disciplined football."
"We have to try to go out there and make it hard for him"
During the Week 2 matchup between the Bills and Dolphins, Ryan Fitzpatrick played in that game. This week the Bills defense will go against rookie Tua Tagovailoa and it's the job of the Bills defense to make things difficult for him. Hyde had some compliments for the rookie quarterback and touched on how this defense can put him in sticky situations.
"My impression of Tua is he's a young guy," Hyde said. "I think he's a is a good decision-maker, and he doesn't force throws. He gets to his read and he can check the ball down or whatever it may be. He can find the open guys like I said, smart guy, good, accurate and he puts the ball on the money when he throws it. So, something we have to try to go out there and make it hard for him, make the looks hard. Any young quarterback in this league, not having the Tom Brady experience, you go out there and try to make stuff sticky for him and that's what we're gonna try to do."