Coming off of two tough losses in a row, the Buffalo Bills knew they needed a bounce-back game vs. the Cleveland Browns to right the ship. Thanks to a well documented lake-effect snowstorm in Buffalo, the Bills (7-3) were forced to play that game on a neutral field in Detroit.
Before they were able to ultimately emerge with a 31-23 victory, the team had to actually find a way to get out of Buffalo and get to Ford Field.
Enter, Bills Mafia.
Bills fans across western New York were seen on the social media pages of Bills players throughout the day on Saturday. They were helping players get out of their homes by any means necessary, to get them to the Bills’ facility in Orchard Park and eventually on the team plane to Detroit.
“Well I’ll tell you what, we couldn’t have done this without a lot of help. Especially from our good neighbors there in Buffalo,” Josh Allen told CBS during his postgame on-field interview. “I mean, Bills Mafia… you saw the videos all week. The love, the support, the help, the generosity it speaks volumes. And then you come here and it’s packed, so appreciate Bills Mafia for doing what they did. We couldn’t have done it without you, honestly. That’s very sincere. We came out, got a victory, that’s all we were trying to do.”
“Appreciate #BillsMafia for doing what they did, we couldn’t have done it without you, honestly.”
After a tumultuous week for the @BuffaloBills, Josh Allen credited his fans for Sunday’s win over Cleveland.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) November 20, 2022
During his postgame press conference with the media, Allen was asked what it meant to have Bills fans make the drive through a snowstorm just to cheer on their favorite team.
“Credit to both fans for getting up here, but obviously Bills Mafia for what they were going through, too,” Allen said. “They were probably digging themselves out of snow so that they could drive four and a half hours to get here. So we really appreciate our fanbase and I can honestly say we couldn’t have done it without them this week. It took a lot of moving hands and moving parts.”
As for how Allen got out of his own house, which happens to be up a rather long driveway, the Bills quarterback credited his two neighbors. Both of whom happen to be farmers, like his family was growing up.
“Squirrel and Mark Braun, they came with a big ol’ tractor and dug me out. I had a lane about this big. The radars on my car were beeping the whole way down my driveway because it felt like I was about to hit something. I’m sure it’s gonna be like that for a while,” Allen said.
While the CBS broadcast estimated it was about 70 percent Bills fans to 30 percent Browns fans due to the close proximity of Detroit to Cleveland, Allen thought Bills Mafia represented well, especially given the circumstances.
“I mean it was fairly close (to a regular home game,)” Allen continued. “I thought, you know, Bills Mafia packed the stadium pretty well. They were really loud. It forced them to go in silent I think most of the game so that’s always a plus.”
Bills head coach Sean McDermott made sure to thank Bills fans and the community in Buffalo for their help in making the much needed win possible.
“Everyone back in Buffalo who helped us get here. How much we appreciate them and thankful for them,” McDermott told the media after the win. “Everyone back in Buffalo who is currently digging out, we’re thinking of you guys and that one was for you. It’s great to be here, it’s great to get the win and certainly appreciate all the fans from Buffalo that showed up for us here, all the fans and all the Bills Mafia.”
After back-to-back losses, McDermott was clear the Bills needed their fans’ support especially given a week that saw them barely get in any real practice due to an illness that spread around the team early in the week, followed up by the inclement weather later on.
“It was great. You never know what to expect coming into a neutral site and Bills Mafia stepped up,” McDermott continued. “We need them. We needed that type of support out here with the week we went through and the week we had, but just amazing to even get out here.”
Like Allen, McDermott needed help getting out of his house to be able to pick up a couple of his players and then get to the team’s facility.
“Called in a bulldozer, or a front loader more specifically,” McDermott said. “Our plow guy couldn’t make it so our neighbor called in a front loader in order to take the snow out. Then our normal plow guy did come once, but soon after I got off the Zoom with you guys, the media, on Friday, it was pretty cool just talking about not sure what’s gonna happen, not sure if we’re gonna get out. Got five, six text messages to my wife, myself of neighbors, friends saying whatever you need we’ll help. That’s, that’s pretty special.”
McDermott, who has coached for multiple other NFL teams in his career, admitted he thinks the help his locker room got from the community might not have happened anywhere else.
“Ya, I mean I’m bias, but no. I mean you call it the ‘City of Good Neighbors’ for a reason. You saw that in full effect on Friday and Saturday. I mean, I went out of my house to go to the facility and picked up Von [Miller] and Sam [Martin] and down the road came the big plow. And, uh, I think he stopped, he got out and we took a quick picture and he did a great job clearing the road so we could get out of the development there.”
All in all, it was an experience front top-to-bottom for the Bills. McDermott is hopeful such a scenario can be a growing experience.
“Ya, I mean when you go through and you share an experience like this, it can bring a team closer together. Like I mentioned to the team when we got in yesterday.”
Following the victory, the Bills are scheduled to hop on a flight and head right back to Buffalo this evening despite having to return to Detroit on Wednesday, to face the Lions on Thanksgiving.
McDermott said while the team did contemplate just staying in Detroit, due to the sudden nature of having to leave this week, the coach thought it would be best to return home. It will give players a chance to help their families with the storm and to get to sleep in their own beds for a couple of nights.
While it’s often an overused cliché in sports that the fans help teams win games, in this instance it seems as though Bills fans actually played a part in ending their team’s losing streak. Not something you can say too often.