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McCoy: The 2017 Bills will fight you to the end


It has been steadily building with each passing victory. From hanging on to beat the defending NFC champions in Atlanta in Week 4, to coming from behind to beat Tampa Bay in Week 6, to Sunday's tidal wave of takeaways to rout Oakland. The mental toughness of Buffalo's roster might be as strong as it has ever been in this century.

"We work hard. We're a family," said LeSean McCoy. "We support one another. This is a close family. It really is. Some guys I might know for a year, two years, two weeks or two months, we kind of have that bond. I don't want to let the guy next to me down."Uniform accountability in Buffalo's locker room has proven to be elusive for the last six head coaches for the Bills. Yes, there was some buy-in each time a new coach was hired. But never during the last 17 years has a Bills roster been so resolutely dedicated to the team's success by doing everything in their individual power to contribute to the cause.

"We play together, we fight," said McCoy. "Defense is out there fighting for turnovers. Last week I fumbled in a critical time of the game, boom, what happens? Defense goes out there, a rookie gets the fumble for me. You know, then we score. It shows you the heart, and it's hard to go against the eye of a tiger. A team that will claw and fight until the end. It's hard to beat a team like that."

No one will debate that Buffalo's penchant for takeaways (tied for league lead with 17) has played a big role in the team's success. But there has been another key ingredient to the Bills victories.

Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi has a famous quote in which he said.

"Everyone has the will to win, but very few have the will to prepare to win."

What this year's version of the Bills has done is commit to Sean McDermott's process of earning the right to win games. The players committed to that and they've been rewarded with results, which has only reinforced the mantra.

"We prepared well this week, won a football game," said Kyle Williams after Sunday's win over Oakland. "We've got a quick turnaround, so there's really not a whole lot to pat yourself on the back about. We've got to turn around and play a Thursday night game in New York, on the road, against a division opponent. We'll just keep grinding and we'll keep working and we'll see where it leads to."

Fifteen minutes after a 20-point victory, Williams is already talking about preparing for the next game to have a chance to make victory the outcome again.

"We come out every week, the guys work hard," said McDermott. "They respect the process and put the time in. And when you put the time in and you care about one another and you detail your work, you give yourself a chance. For us it's about earning the right to have a chance to win on Sundays by doing things the right way on the field, and the right way off the field Monday through Saturday."

When McDermott inherited this team, he put a premium on grinders. Players who genuinely enjoyed coming to practice every day and immersed themselves in film study so there were no surprises for them on game day.

That's why although it might not be the most physically gifted team that nine-year veteran LeSean McCoy has played on, he believes it is the strongest-willed group he has played with in his career.

"I've been around some super-talented group of guys," said McCoy, who has played with the likes of DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins and Michael Vick. "I wouldn't say (we're) one of the most talented teams. But one of the most strong-hearted, fight until the end (teams)? I think so."

Tyrod Taylor, who has been part of a Super Bowl-winning team during his time in Baltimore, believes that Buffalo's roster makeup is as dedicated and unrelenting as any he's been a part of too.

"It's definitely up there," said Taylor. "Nothing fazes this team. I think it just shows how this team is built. This team definitely has a strong will. Nothing can faze us. Coach does a great job of putting us in different situations and also learning from different situations across the league."

The NFL is still a matchup league, and talent still counts for a lot. But with the Bills will to prepare to win as strong as it has been, perhaps since the AFC title teams, even the players feel that talent isn't the only thing that can get results.

"The talent kind of goes out the window, the athletic ability of the player goes out the window," said McCoy, who is one of the most physically gifted players on the roster. "You have that big heart and guys believe and want to win. It just shows you the type of culture that Sean is bringing here."

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