The Bills were preparing to welcome the Cleveland Browns to Highmark Stadium for a normal 1:00 game on Sunday, but the 77 inches of snow that hit Orchard Park and surrounding towns in the days leading up to the scheduled home game had other plans.
Word broke just before the snow started to fall on Thursday evening that the Bills-Browns game was moving to Ford Field in Detroit, and the people of Buffalo and the Bills staff immediately came together to ensure the game would still go on. Along with a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, Friday and Saturday consisted of a lot of shoveling, plowing, and unburying cars so players, coaches, and staff could make it out of their snow-covered driveways in time to catch the plane to Detroit on Saturday afternoon.
"It's called the city of good neighbors for a reason," head coach Sean McDermott said. "You saw that in full effect on Friday and Saturday."
Everybody was accounted for ahead of take-off and thanks to the all-hands-on-deck efforts from everybody involved, the team safely landed in Detroit — where they later earned their seventh win of the season after defeating the Browns 31-23. A win that wouldn't have been possible without the fans back home.
"Everyone back in Buffalo who's currently digging out again, we're thinking of you guys and that was for you," McDermott said. "It's great to be here, great to get the win, and certainly appreciate all the fans from Buffalo that showed up for us here, all the Bills fans and Bills Mafia."
The team didn't know what to expect coming into this neutral site game, but Bills Mafia stepped up yet again and over 56,000 tickets were sold in less than 24 hours for the game. The support that the team receives at home followed them to Detroit and after a challenging 48 hours filled with a handful of unknowns, the uplifting support propelled them to return to Buffalo with a win for the city.
"They were probably digging themselves out of the snow so they can drive four and a half hours to get here," QB Josh Allen said. "We really appreciate of our fan base and can honestly say we couldn't have done it without them this week."
But this wasn't the first time this locker room was faced with adversity that pertained to the weather — this time around though, it was Buffalo's winter causing the issues and not the Miami heat.
"I think we've been through a lot of different kinds of adversity over the years and then figured out ways to handle it," S Jordan Poyer said. "Our team did a great job, leaders stepped up, got the guys ready, and coaches did a great job of getting us prepared to play."
Whenever the Bills are faced with these hardships, the leader in LB Von Miller is always quick to build his teammates up with faith and confidence that they would battle through whatever is thrown their way. Last week, Miller expressed excitement to see how his team would respond to the overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings, not knowing a Buffalo snowstorm would present a new challenge to not only the Bills but the entire city of Buffalo, too.
"You just gotta focus on what you do and we're pro football players," Miller said. "It doesn't matter if we play in Orchard Park or Detroit or if we draw a football field in the sand down in Cabo somewhere. Whenever they blow the whistle to play a game, this is what we do, this is what we were born to do. You just got to take advantage of each and every opportunity, and it felt good to face all this adversity and come to Detroit and get a win."
While it's safe to say Miller got the response he was looking for, that devoted response that ultimately snapped the Bills' two-game losing streak meant more than just winning a football game.
Following the victory, McDermott said when a group shares an experience like they did these past few days, it can bring a team closer together. While the team was already close prior to the weather fiasco, seeing how they rallied around one another made the head coach quite proud.
"You guys have heard the stories of the players literally taking their suitcases with them and walking, coaches as well," McDermott said. "I'm sure it's not just players and coaches, it's the staff. So, just a resilient effort and good to get the win on top of that."
"We had to lean on one another," DT Ed Oliver added. "I've seen guys staying at other guy's houses to be closer to the facility so when we did get that phone call, we'd be ready to go. Guys chilled and hung out, we talked on Zoom, and just kind of just bonded."
Even under these unforeseeable circumstances, the players did their 1/11 on and off the field which led to a successful trip to Motor City. When figuring out logistics of getting to Detroit, they never once said they couldn't do it — they instead asked what they needed to do to make Sunday's game happen.
"We easily could have folded and allowed it to be an excuse for us, but again, trust in the guys that we have in this locker room that are true professionals that do things the right way," Allen said. "We're just trying to win a football game. That's our mindset and our goal every time we step out in the field, and fortunately, we got it done today."
Check out all the celebration photos from players, coaches and Bills Mafia after the emotional win over the Browns in Detroit.