BILLS HEAD COACH SEAN MCDERMOTT
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Q: Let's start with Isaiah McKenzie. Obviously, we talked about his story and things like that, but for him to come out the way he did today, did you expect him to have a big game?
SM: I absolutely did. I know he was excited for the opportunity. He gives us great energy. I could tell during the week he was focused and ready to go.
Q: He was talking about the weeks he was inactive and he was really hard on himself. How did you see him take that and respond in practice?
SM: It's important to him. That's good to know. You know it's important to him. He's passionate about what he does and how he does things. So it's a great testament to him the way he's worked to get himself back to get in this position to have this opportunity. When given the opportunity, he stepped up. I think that's a lesson for our entire team.
Q: There were so many big fourth down plays on both sides, both sidelines. Was there an idea coming into this game that you guys were going to be a little aggressive and maybe take some shots?
SM: We just felt like we had a good plan overall. I would just say that. Those aren't always easy decisions. I thought the offense did a great job of executing.
Q: In the first quarter where you scored the touchdown, the field goal team was actually halfway out there. You actually ran out to the numbers to say, "let's go with the offense." What was the thinking there? Why did you change stream kind of mid-play there?
SM: Just it felt like again I wanted to be aggressive there. I liked how the offense had moved the ball up to that point in time. So I think it was, what, fourth and long two or three or so. Kind of in that gray area a little bit. Wanted to be aggressive.
Q: Sean, you had multiple guys down with COVID on the offensive line, then you lose Ike Boettger. So you've got guys playing different positions. Dion Dawkins, who it maybe wasn't the plan to play him. Josh Allen wasn't sacked and it seemed like he had ample time in the pocket. What does it say about the guys up front today?
SM: I just think a resilient group. Never good to see a guy go down, on the field or off the field. And losing guys due to COVID and losing some coaches due to COVID, I thought it was a very resilient approach by the guys, coaches included.
Q: I understand you have two games left, but to come in here and get this win, given where your team has been and what it's been through this year, to see them kind of come together and respond on a number of levels today, what does that mean?
SM: I think we continue to learn lessons with this, in some ways, a young football team and young leadership group. It's hard to follow up a season like last year with a similar season the next year. That's part of the challenge. So I'm just very proud of the way the guys have persevered and the leadership group has stepped up, and I felt them. Not only off the field, but on the field in their play as well. I thought 17 had an incredible game today. That's good to see, obviously.
Q: Sean, we were talking about the o-line and Isaiah and everybody – Josh Allen made so many plays today. What does that say about him that he's there for you guys where, if he comes – I don't want to say expected, but he's done this before, and he did it again today.
SM: Yeah, I thought his approach during the week was – it gave him a chance to do that today, and that's where the process comes in. Not just Josh, but really the entire football team. When you do things right during the week and you get yourself ready to go. It's a tough place to play against a very good football team, a well-coached team, as you guys know. I thought we played good football today.
Q: How badly did you want this win today given the way the game unfolded a few weeks ago?
SM: Well, they're all important. Like I just mentioned, it's a very good football team here that they have. We have a lot of respect for them and how they do things, how they're coached. We just knew we were going to be in for a battle today, and that's what it was.
Q: Sean, you just kind of touched on it there, but he's working with a different offensive line, different wide receivers. Did you see something different in Josh this week in practice that gave you an idea something like this was coming?
SM: Just he continues to grow every week really. That's what it comes down to.
Q: The last offensive possession you guys had, they just scored to get it back to five points, that's a big point in the game. Can you take us through how good your offense was on that last possession?
SM: I thought it was, honestly, more of the same that we had done up to that point. We moved the ball. I don't think we ended up punting in the game. But just playing smart, doing things right that sets up the result and just moving the ball, moving the ball, not having to go over the top all the time, but just taking what the defense was giving us. I thought Coach [Daboll] called a great game and Josh and the offense executed. So I thought we played smart football and disciplined at times, especially before the half with the situation that got a little bit – I guess some pushing and shoving going on there or whatever. I thought keeping our composure was a big piece of it as well.
Q: Kyle Van Noy said that the energy you guys had was evident. What's the balance going into this game? Is your message to the team, "let's have some energy, but let's be composed."
SM: We talked a little bit last go around with us hurting ourselves with penalties. There's a discipline component that comes with that, whether they're during the play or after the play or before the play. If you want to play winning football, you can't beat yourselves with penalties. It was a physical game out there, so guys are going to get a little bit emotional, but we have to keep our emotions in check.
Q: Was there a catalyst at all to go for it on fourth down as many times as you did, two-point conversions, everything like that throughout the week or maybe from previous games?
SM: I just felt it was the right thing for this game. We just take them one week at a time, one game at a time.
QUARTERBACK JOSH ALLEN
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Q: How about Isaiah McKenzie today?
JA: Again, guys stepping up. I'm so happy for him. I've got all the faith in the world in him. For him to come out and play this way the day after Christmas, it means a lot to him, but I think it means a lot to everybody on this team. Just seeing a guy like that who has his ups and downs throughout the year, loses the returning position, is sacked for a couple games, comes out, and he was unbelievable today. I think he had 11-plus catches, 100-plus yards, the touchdown on the opening drive. Just an absolutely phenomenal day for him. I'm so, so happy for him. I can't express that enough.
Q: Josh, you had over 300 yards passing, over 100 yards on the ground, didn't get sacked. The offensive line, how would you say they played? Especially when Ike Boettger goes down early and had to reshuffle everything.
JA: I think it was the Christmas presents I got them. They were pumped up, and they played a little harder for them. Never hurts to treat those big guys. I'm super proud. Again, adversity. Just guys being pulled out. Ryan Bates stepping up. He played fantastic. Ike goes down. Dion comes back in after being at home with COVID and not really knowing much of the game plan and not actually practicing the game plan. That's really tough to do.
I'm so happy for our guys, how they responded. But again, we've got two more games left. We've got to keep going.
Q: I know you don't make the personnel calls, obviously, but all season long it's just been interesting in a year maybe that after all Isaiah McKenzie did last year on offense, he really hasn't been utilized this year. I know you've got Emmanuel Sanders, but don't you think there could have been ways to get him more involved this year?
JA: Sure. Hindsight is 20/20. It is what it is. We can't figure out what makes us go in the past. We have to figure out what makes us go in the future. He was an absolute beast on the field today. Again, that's going to give us opportunities going forward and helping this team out, but we're going to need everybody going forward.
Q: Josh, you converted on fourth down four times today. What does it do for you and what does it do for the offense when the coach is being that aggressive on the play call?
JA: To be able to have that trust means a lot. Again, when you convert those and continue to convert those, what a killer it is for a defense. That's a really good team we just played. Obviously, they've had a lot of success this year. It's an elite defense. Again, having that trust to go for it on fourth down situations, that's big for us. It gives us some groove. It gives us some confidence going forward. I can't thank Coach enough for putting us in this position and believing in us.
Q: Many of your wins this season have come from taking an early lead and holding onto it. What does it do for you as an offense from being able to play from ahead from a strategy standpoint? What does it do?
JA: It keeps you two dimensional. Running, rollouts, naked [bootleg]s, quick game, quick shots. It forces the defense to play all types of situations and really every inch of the grass. Again, our guys stepped up. We had a lot of key plays today that maybe the game's different if it goes the other way. There's still some things we left out there that we want back. Proud of guys like Kum [Jake Kumerow] and Isaiah [McKenzie] stepping up. Guys like Bates. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, they played fantastic. It was a complete situational football win today and complementary football. The return game looked good. Special teams was good. We had no punts today. Matt Haack came out and was like, "We need to get a picture. I've never done that in my career." We got a picture. That was pretty cool. Again, whether or not we continue going, we've got to keep going, and we can see this team in the future, and we know that. Just got to keep finding ways to produce on the field.
Q: What did you guys prove today coming in here and getting this win?
JA: I don't know, we're where we want to be right now. We've got to continue to find ways to win football games and move the ball and take advantage of our opportunities and playoff caliber mindset. That's what we have.
Q: You had space today. They didn't even force you to punt. What do you think was the key?
JA: Again, guys stepping up making plays. I think Daboll had a great day calling plays for us. It really comes down to execution. That's what he told us at halftime. It's not about the coaches. It's about the players who are on the field making sure we're in the right spots, doing the right things, communicating well. We did that well tonight. Obviously, there's places we didn't. We've got to clean that up and turn our focus to next week.
Q: On the last possession you guys had to score a touchdown. You just scored, the game's close, there's still plenty of time. What was the thought process going into that drive? What was said on the sideline even in the huddle before you took the field there. What was going through your mind?
JA: We knew we needed points. I think we had a five-point lead at that time, field goal puts us up by eight, forces them to score a touchdown with a two-point conversion. Just the thought process there, knowing we needed points, but we wanted to put six on the board and give our defense that kind of bumper and that boost.
Again, the team that we just played, that's a great team. They came into Buffalo, and they played us really well, and they came out and I think they played really well today. Again, whether or not we see them in the future, we don't know, but we had guys step up and make some plays tonight.
Q: Understand that you said you've got two games left and work still to do. What does it mean as a team, given everything you've been through, against this opponent in particular, to come in and retake control of your own destiny at this point in terms of the division?
JA: Again, we have to finish. It starts off with our next one. That's all we're really going to focus on. We can't look too far into the future. It's got to be the next one, and we'll go from there.
Q: What were the Christmas presents for the offensive line?
JA: Got them some watches, some nice ones.
Q: Two straight weeks, Devin Singletary made an impact. What has his emergence meant to the offense these past couple weeks?
JA: It's been fantastic. Devin, I can't say it enough how reliable he is. He's smart. If you watch him on any given play, whether he gets the ball or not, he is around the ball. He is helping the pile, following the ball, in case someone fumbles. He just does everything the right way. He's everything you want in a running back. Again, he's had his opportunities this year, and today he had some good ones. My mind goes to that first series play, he catches a flat two yards downfield, and he turns it into a first down and allows us to skip a first down. Obviously, the touchdown run, just some tough yards. Again, when you have someone that – you know you can rely on him that much. I have so much faith in him, and I'm so happy he's shining.
Jordan Poyer, S
(On the game)
"Obviously it was huge game with huge implications and obviously the last game we played them it left a bad taste in our mouth. We were able to get a win last week and bounce back and carry that momentum into this week. Obviously the game had huge implications and we were able to play well and execute and play complimentary football. Shout-out to the offense, they played a hell of a game. Josh [Allen] played a hell of a game and the offense did exactly what they can do and Isaiah McKenzie had a hell of game too and we just wanted to complement them for their side of the football.
(On playing aggressive)
"I think we all wanted to play better and at least on defense, play better. Like I said earlier, we knew we had to come out here and execute, and Coach Frazier and Sean [McDermott] put a hell of a game plan together for us on defense that allowed us to play fast and execute our job. They [Patriots] had some runs and made some plays but no big plays, and Micah [Hyde] had two takeaways. That's what we are trying to come out and do every week."
Micah Hyde, S
(On the game)
"This is the National Football League and week-in and week-out, you're going to be challenged. We are glad to come in here and get this win, but at the end of the day we have two left that we need to take care of also."
(On the play of Isaiah McKenzie)
"It was amazing, I think the defense is the biggest fans of the offense, and to see them go out there and perform how they did – starting with number 17 [Josh Allen] and going down to Isaiah and the run game. It was awesome to see and we know when our offense is clicking like that, it's hard to beat us."
(On his interception)
"Any time you can get takeaways that's huge. That's what we come out here and try and do, force the quarterbacks to be one-dimensional and throw the football."
Harrison Phillips, DT
(On how the win felt)
"That was good. Anytime you get a big 'W' like that on the road, energy is real high, so we are very thankful."
(On what it's like to watch Josh Allen play when he is playing like he did today)
"That guy is unbelievable. He deserves all the accolades because he is the real deal. He works so hard and this is his life. We all trust the ball in his hands any time the game is on the line. Whether we are up or down, in Number 17 we trust. I love that guy. Very happy with his success."
(On what it's like to go against an offensive line that is thrown together during the game)
"The way our offensive line played with all the guys in and out should be in all the headlines. They played amazing and protected Josh and helped us out in the run game. To your point, any time a guy is down in the offensive line we are facing, everyone knows that defensively, this is the backup or the practice squad guy, whatever it is. Obviously New England knew that and maybe they were targeting people or trying to get one-on-one matchups but our five guys played together and played fantastic."
Dion Dawkins, OL
(On all the changes they had to make today)
"It's part of the NFL. I would say it is definitely tough but we got some great guys who have a great mindset about it. Whatever we have to do to win games is what it is."
(On the play of Isaiah McKenzie)
"He's like a little missile. Watching him run around and catch the ball and bounce off the turf like that is kind of funny. He's a storm trooper and he shows his personality on and off the field. I am extremely thankful to have a guy like that as a teammate. He just brings positivity all of the time. He puts his money where his funny trash talk is."
(On whether they took this week as a challenge to put their best foot forward especially with all the changes)
"Every week is a challenge. Whether it's the Patriots, Jets, Cardinals, Falcons – whoever it is, this is a hard league and when we can do things right, we cherish those moments and we look at it and give ourselves a pat on the back and then we keep stepping. Any time we can perform at a high level and win, it's smiles, so we will smile for about 24 hours and then we will get right back to it. There are two more left and this one doesn't mean anything if those two don't fall into place."
Isaiah McKenzie, WR
(On his game)
"I just had to step up, all my coaches believed in me. Josh Allen believed in me and threw me the ball, and I made plays. That's all I wanted to do was help the team win."
(On the last few weeks when he was inactive)
"It was a learning experience. I had to take leave of myself and figure out what I had to do better. I just showed up in practice every day and do whatever it takes to do better. So those two weeks that I was inactive, I just thought about things and just reevaluated myself and then this was the opportunity that came around. It was my turn and I felt like I just needed to step up for my team."
(On the frustration of having a big role last year to not this year)
"It's always hard, I mean I've been doing it for a couple of years now and I don't mind doing it. It's whatever I have to do to help the team win. If I got to get one ball a game, that's what I'm going do, if I get ten balls a game, that's what I'm going to do. Today I got almost all the plays, and I made the best of it. Sometimes it's hard but you have to get it out of your own head sometimes."
(On Josh Allen going to him on so many big plays)
"He said nothing to me at all, he just threw me the ball. He just told me good job after the game. But in those moments he believed in me and threw me the ball, and I made the plays when I could. I thank him for that and thank the coaches for calling those plays and giving me the opportunity."
Mitch Morse, OL
(On what it says about Dion Dawkins to be able to step in and be able to execute at a high level)
"I think you not only look at the game plan part, but practice is a necessary evil for us. You also throw in COVID and the guy literally got activated 24 hours before the game. I think that just shows his commitment to studying, to be available when his number was called, and it just shows the professionalism he's brought especially this year, to the game. Kudos to him and the rest of the guys for playing great football. We didn't miss a beat. I think we take this time, to say we are really feeling for our guy, Ike [Boettger], who is the glue for this offensive line behind the scenes that no one has really seen. But Dion did a great job stepping in and performing at a Pro Bowl level."
(On what kind of impact it has on an offense when someone like Cole Beasley is not available)
"Cole is a great teammate and great competitor. He has been the lifeblood of this team since he has been here. He is a tremendous football player, was an All-Pro last year, playing great ball. But to be honest, these last two weeks have just been crazy with guys in and out and you are trying to be a professional, but at the same time, you really care about these guys well-being. Football wise, Cole is an exceptional football player and like you said, when you need to get something quick, he's an excellent tool."
Devin Singletary, RB
(On the offensive line)
"It's what I see every day. All those guys are capable of playing on the line, no matter who it is. They showed that today. It just shows us how tight we are and how tight they are."
(On being involved early in the game)
"I got started early and was able to get going and we got the win. So it definitely helped to get started early."
(On if he felt like they had control of the game)
"Our whole message during the game was to not take our foot off the gas, just keep going because we know what they are capable of. That was just the message, to keep going, just keep applying pressure."
(On getting a lot of carries to get in the grove)
"It doesn't have to be a lot of carries, but just being in the game. Just getting in the flow of the game."
(On going for it on fourth down today)
"It was just that we kept applying that pressure, even more now because it was do or die at that point by any means necessary to get that first down."