Sean McDermott was calling the sniper through a potential draft pick. This has always been an important process for Bills coaches, but was still impacted by the pandemic during the 2021 evaluation cycle.
Some of these calls are more memorable than others. So after going through the player checklist with Pitt’s coach Pat Narduzzi, there was one name McDermott should have written down.
“He had other players that year, especially on defense,” McDermott says. “Titans players, [Rashad] Weaver, he played big on Saturday night. So we talked about him, we talked about another D-lineman that came out, and we talked about yet another DB. And Pat continued to raise Damar. I mean, when coaches do that, and I have a lot of respect for Narduzzi, he does it for a reason.
“Overall, as a player, as a person, it was a total package, right? A total package of what you look for when you get a player, the player, the person, the heart, the desires, the work ethic, the character. He stops talking about Damar. I couldn’t.”
The Bills acquired Dumar Hamlin with the 212nd pick that April. Drafting a guy in that range is almost by definition taking someone a flyer. They didn’t know he would evolve into a starter. I don’t even know if I will enter. McDermott knew that if Narduzzi was right, and he was usually right, there was something for Hamlin.
And here McDermott, nearly two years later, is telling everyone who Hamlin is, much like Narduzzi did to him back then. He did just that last week in the aftermath of a horrifying scene in Cincinnati Monday night when he administered CPR to Hamlin on the field. Hooray.
Now he was doing it in happier circumstances. Yes, Bills was finally able to answer Hamlin’s first question after regaining his consciousness—won?— a fourth straight victory over AFC East rivals New England on Sunday by a score of 35–23. More importantly, Hamlin could see it all from his UC Medical Center hospital bed in Ohio. This sent McDermott back to Narduzzi.
“He kept talking about Damar,” says McDermott. “You knew there was something different about this young man.”
The regular season is in the books, and MMQB has a lot to cover. In this week’s column…
• Three Deep covers the full spectrum of NFL teams, including the Chiefs, Jaguars and Bears.
• Details Eagles finish, Bengals week and Dolphins comeback as part of 10 points.
• Here’s what scouts are looking for at tonight’s National Championships in Sixes starting Saturday.
But let’s start with this week’s story of all sports in the NFL. Its latest chapter unfolded on the last Sunday of the season at his park in Orchard, New York.
Hamlin’s difference as a player and as a person is a big part of why it’s always been difficult for McDermott and his staff to get the team refocused and ready to play football on Sunday. This was true when the Bills left the stadium at midnight in Cincinnati until they returned to Buffalo around 2:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
From there, as McDermott told me, it took three key steps to get the bill back in time for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The first was on Wednesday when Hamlin’s father Mario spoke to the players at a team meeting, and the second was on Thursday when two of his UC Medical doctors at his center who worked with Hamlin spoke to the Bills in a video conference. It was when I talked to The third week’s crescendo came when McDermott surprised Bills by patching himself up with Hamlin via his FaceTime, and Hamlin delivered the now-famous “Love You, Boys” line.
For McDermott, there was also another moment on Saturday that, for me personally, really struck home the gravity of the situation and how it affected the league as a whole.
“You watched the game [Saturday] Pre-game prayers for Tennessee vs. Jacksonville in the evenings, afternoons and midfields,” says McDermott. “That rarely happens in our league, but I think it was a tremendous sign of unity and support. And it was a big game there.”
It was just a prelude to the exciting atmosphere that awaited the Bills on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon the buffalo came through the tunnel to the cauldron. Behind are probably half a dozen players with flags printed with “3” and “Pray for Dummer”. Hearing how his 70,753 people in attendance exploded, the line of men in white helmets and blue jerseys that emerged was billed as a freight train set to run through his Belichick team. I guess.
And at first, it looked just like the Bills, who felt the timing was inexplicable, starting with Nyheim Hines’ 96-yard kickoff return on the team’s first play after Hamlin’s hit in Cincinnati. .
“We didn’t win the toss and we didn’t win much this year. I think we have to do something about that,” McDermott said with a laugh. “But when I was receiving after Bill [Belichick] Postponed and even before that I was like OK, wouldn’t it be pretty cool and special if we could turn the first kickoff back into a touchdown? And of course they won the toss and postponed, so go ahead. ”
As McDermott explained, the return itself was actually nothing. That’s how the bill generally operates. “The guys executed very well,” he says.
From there, at about 20:00, in the middle of the return, Hines broke to the right, breaking the many angles the Patriots had on him and a foot race began.
“When he hit it, it was just a surreal moment. Isn’t that pretty special?’ says McDermott. “There’s no more script. To be honest, the thing I was most worried about, maybe it’s just the coach inside me, but the reaction after that and how we’re going to play. I mean, because it’s a pretty high roller coaster.”
He got the answer right away, with the defense interrupting the three-and-out with Greg Russeau’s Mack Jones third-down sack.actually there was rear When does trouble occur?
In the days leading up to the game, NFL coaches gathered around McDermott and his staff while players from the other 31 teams gathered around the Bills players. But for McDermott, there was one thing that stood out for him.
“Shortly after that happened, Bill [Belichick] Texted me and then separately he contacted Zach [Taylor] McDermott paused. “No one else did that to us. [Zac and I] Handled. Bill has seen a lot of games, watched a lot of football, and has been through a lot as a leader and head coach. He texts both Zach and I together. It started.
“And before the game he asked me to come and I thanked him. He was so kind with his words and his support. [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft went out of his way to provide support especially in the game — we had something in the game too. We had to win here to keep the second seed .Playoff berth. I thought it was very elegant to be able to afford to do it in such a situation.”
The Patriots displayed equally well between the lines after taking those punches early on. Playing Jones responded with a 9-play, 74-yard drive capped off by an acrobatic touchdown catch from Jacobi Myers. Score is 7.
From there, McDermott’s fears became a little clearer. The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Allen took the sack that ended one drive and threw a red zone pick that squandered another scoring chance at the end of the half. The third quarter began with turnovers for both teams, and in the second quarter the Patriots scored 1-10 from the Buffalo 11.
Then came the big play. The Bills scored his stoppage in the red zone after Jonathan Jones forced Devin his single tally his fumble inside his 10. Nyheim Hines then executed another kickback. On the Bills’ next possession, Allen found John Brown heavily involved in a 42-yard touchdown scrambling play. On the ensuing possession, Allen found Stephon Diggs, who Ubered to the hospital to meet Hamlin Monday night before leaving Cincinnati for a 49-yard score to finish off the Patriots.
“If you can counteract a change in momentum and all three phases are contributing, that’s a big deal,” says McDermott.
For Buffalo, this place was especially huge. However, it was his 13th win and the 2nd seed that the Bills won. And they had Hamlin.
In the aftermath, McDermott can admit — as big a play as the Bills could have summoned, his team was pretty depleted by 4 p.m. ET.
“I mean, there was juice, but it probably wasn’t our normal level of juice.” I do not know [how they’re feeling]Halftime was calm in a good way, but I was a little worried about the gas left in the tank. ”
They then received a replacement, courtesy of Hamlin himself. Locker In his room, McDermott speaks to the team before his back-up quarterback Matt his Barkley calls Hamlin on his FaceTime on his cell phone as the players break through the safety of a bedridden start. I asked for horrible stuff.
And with the week finally over, McDermott had time to reflect on the whole team and the regions they play in. A racist shooting at Tops Market in mid-May that killed 10 people. Twin blizzards crippled western New York weeks away. And on the second day of 2023, Hamlin collapses.
“They were so…” McDermott said of his team, pausing to choose words again. , I literally went up to them and said: i think we should do something, and they did not hesitate. I remember going there, but it’s a bit off script, right? It was springtime and they got off those buses to serve.
“The way they handled everything was amazing. I think our team leader and leadership group really grew through this.”
McDermott noted how many aspects of the organization helped, from COO Ron Laquire and the business side, to GM Brandon Bean and Soccer Operations, to Derek Boyko and his communications staff, especially the medical and training staff. bottom. Monday night on the field (where Kerington performed CPR and Chief Athletic his trainer Nate his Breske stayed with Hamlin in Cincinnati) — before returning to the players again.
Of course, they were the ones who were with Hamlin on Monday night, the ones who were in the same danger as Hamlin, and they had to be the vanguard of the organization when it was time to get back on their feet. It was people. field.
“When you go through things in life, it really makes you grow and you gain wisdom through it,” McDermott says. I think it’s very good for their growth, because after all, they’re the ones who steer the ship, and the thing that steers their ship the most in that locker room is their rudder in the water. I think it really just adds wisdom to having them go through the different things we’ve faced.”
Then McDermott’s tone of voice changed a little and he laughed.
“But we need a rested team for next weekend, so I hope you’ll stop by to talk about everything we’ve been through.”
He knows he doesn’t have much time for that. However, it’s safe to say that he and his team have gone through the week and they consider it a very good deal.