Micah Hyde has envisioned playing football at Bills Stadium on a cold January day. His teammates have, too – the exercise stemmed from a challenge years ago by head coach Sean McDermott, who implored his players to visualize a goal that had not been achieved in Buffalo for more than two decades.
"I feel like you have to picture things, speak them into existence, and they come true if you're willing to work for it and I think we have," Hyde said. "A couple years ago, a big thing that Sean said, (picture) walking into Bills Stadium in January and having a home playoff game and hearing the salt cracking under your shoes, kind of envisioning it.
"We always have since we got here in '17 he's been saying that and its finally going to happen."
The Bills turned their vision into a reality Saturday, defeating the Denver Broncos 48-19 to clinch their first AFC East title since 1995 and with it a home playoff game.
Here are some of the most memorable quotes from players on the achievement.
"The process definitely works"
The Bills' division title planted its roots in 2017, when McDermott signed on as coach and began recruiting the players who would make up the team's defensive core. That group – which ended Buffalo's 17-year playoff drought – was highlighted by a trio of newcomers in the defensive backfield: free-agent safeties Hyde and Jordan Poyer, and first-round cornerback Tre'Davious White.
White reflected about what it's been like to be part of an organizational turnaround.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "First time it's been done in what 25 years? As you can see, this is a huge step for this organization. Micah, Jordan and I were talking before the game and talking about our four years, for us to come in and do this and help turn this organization around. We came in the same time.
"It's a big deal. We're proud of our team. But for the guys that I came in with, Micah and Jordan, to do it in this fashion, it's something … I'm going to cherish for a lifetime."
All they had to do was trust the process.
"It feels really good, man," Poyer said. "It feels like a long time in the making, but it's been working. It's working. Fair to say the process definitely works."
Take a look at the best photos following a win against the Broncos to clinch the AFC East division title.
"It feels great to be a part of this team"
Nobody on the Bills roster can empathize with fans quite like Jerry Hughes, who lived through the tail end of the drought after joining the team in 2014. It was only fitting that Hughes made one of the plays of the night Saturday, scooping up a fumble and zig-zagging his way through would-be tacklers for his second career touchdown.
"Man, it feels amazing," Hughes said. "This is something that we talked about once I got to this organization. We spoke about bringing a division championship home to Buffalo. So, it feels great to be a part of this team, the way we did it, the way Sean and Brandon Beane were able to assemble the team together and put guys in the right spot so we can be success and the results are showing.
"I know that we've still got a lot more to accomplish. That's what I like about these guys. We can enjoy a milestone and still understand that the goal is still not reached. So, I'm excited. We're going to enjoy this tonight and then we're going to get ready for next week."
"I didn't know"
If anyone is skeptical as to whether the Bills' next-game-up, one-week-at-a-time mentality is sincere, how is this for proof: Cole Beasley said he played the game unaware that a win would clinch the division.
"I didn't know," he said. "I mean, other guys actually knew and I don't know how I was out of the loop. I'm just coming in to play another game, expecting to win and what happens after is what happens after."
"That's not our end goal"
Josh Allen reiterated the position he took during the week leading up to the game: The AFC East was a goal. It is not the goal.
"It's great that we're able to do it the first time in 25 years," he said. "To be the team and to be the quarterback on the team that does it, obviously feels really good. At the same time, that's not our end goal. We set out to do this in order to get the chance to do what we really want to do, and that's to win a Super Bowl championship.
"It feels good. We're going to celebrate this one for the time-being. It hasn't happened in 25 years. I know our fans and Bills Mafia is probably going crazy right now. But there's still a lot on the table."