Buffalo returns home with a 2-0 record and plenty of high expectations for the home opener this Sunday at 1 pm. against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s been nine months since the last Buffalo home game and veteran Bills players and coaches are excited to play in front of the home fans. While the rookies are anxious to experience their first regular season game at New Era Field.
Josh Allen: Excited to play at home but focused on preparation and execution
Josh Allen made headlines again last Sunday by joking that Buffalo was New York’s only team. Allen says he understands the reaction from the Bills community he is going to get by defending on the national stage.
“For sure. I tell you what, I love where I’m at. I love being in this community, in this city. I can honestly say I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Allen said.
Allen’s home opener in his second season will be less of a whirlwind. He is firmly supplanted into the starting quarterback role and knows what to expect.
“Well we understand the intentions, the hopes, the energy of the stadium is going to be really high on Sunday. We have to be able to kind of weather that and understand and play within ourselves. Coach told us today it’s not where we play, it’s how we play. We’re going to take that to heart. We’re going to game plan like I said, our coach is going to do a good job game-planning. We’re going to do a good job preparing for the game, we’re going to do a good job practicing and hopefully on Sunday we’re going to go out and execute how we’re supposed to. That’s all we’re kind of looking forward to, just being able to execute how we know we can and not really let anything outside of us affect us,” Allen said.
Sean McDermott believes the gameday experience at New Era Field is unique
Head coach Sean McDermott can’t wait until his morning drive from his house to the stadium on Sunday. It’s an atmosphere that he can only get in Buffalo.
“Just the people, driving in from where I live into the stadium. The smell in the air. I love that, I think it’s unique to the NFL. Watching the tailgates, the environment around the tailgates is unique to the NFL. The drive in, very few places do people park in people’s backyards around the NFL, so that’s kind of neat and unique, and I love that. I love the signs that are on Big Tree Road and Abbot Road that advertise for parking. I just think it’s all part of our experience in Buffalo. I think it’s special,” McDermott said.
It will be McDermott’s 17th home game as the head coach but for most of the roster it will be their first.
“Honestly, we just do what we do. We’ve been doing this for a while and our team is going to continue to grow. I mean it’s early in the season, only two games in, so the important piece for us is to continue to focus on our process, our fundamentals, our mindset, our focus and we continue to grow as a football team. We have a ton of young players, I think we’re second in the league right now or around second in the league for playing significant roles, so we have to continue to develop our overall football team and them included in this case,” McDermott said.
Scroll through to see the best photos from Buffalo's practice as they prepare for Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oliver, Kroft and Johnson are excited for their first New Era Field experience
When new Bills players are asked about what to expect at New Era Field, they all respond saying they’ve heard stories about the fans. The mystique behind those stories will disappear when they run out of the tunnel for the first time.
“That’s going to be awesome,” tight end Tyler Kroft said. “I mean I’ve heard stories, I’ve seen videos of Bills mafia and how the fan base is up here. It’s going to be awesome. I’m going to love playing in front of them.”
“I heard they’re going to be a rowdy bunch,” rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver said. “I’m eager to see it. They say you ain’t seen nothing like this, well I’m ready to see it.”
Oliver hasn’t recorded his first NFL sack yet but says he already knows his celebration and yes it does involve a horse.
Bills rookie seventh round pick Darryl Johnson comes from North Carolina A&T whose football stadium holds a maximum of 21,500 fans. New Era Field can fit more than three times that amount.
“Man, I guess you can say my adrenaline pumps 10 times faster than it was at NC A&T because just being out there and seeing a whole bunch of people, a lot more than at A&T. It’s crazy, it’s exciting,” Johnson said.
“I really have no idea what to expect. I’ve been getting hit up by fans saying to me that I don’t know how crazy it’s going to be so I’m just looking forward to it. I know it’s going to be really loud. The guys are already telling us that we must communicate and listen,” Johnson said.