And then there were six. With the conclusion of Saturday’s Divisional Round games, we know two teams — the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles — will be advancing to their respective conference championship games.
Teammates trickled into the meeting room and settled into the back row, away from Shazier, who lobbed playful insults their way as they played a heated game of War. The linebacker lamented tackles missed and big plays surrendered, but this, he said, was the closest team he had ever played on. These guys would overcome anything.
Everything changed in the first quarter on Dec. 4. Shazier was attempting a routine tackle on Cincy wideout Josh Malone when he slammed into Malone’s thigh, largely with his right shoulder, and fell to the ground, clutching at his back. He didn’t move his legs, and his teammates’ faces filled with the kind of dread rarely seen on an NFL field. Mitchell, in street clothes nursing an ankle injury, ran to his side. “Bro! Yo, what’s up?” he yelled. “You all right?”
Tears streamed down Shazier’s cheeks as he kept repeating, “I can’t feel my legs.” Mitchell had witnessed teammates break ankles, shred ACLs, wobble after concussive hits—but never anything like this. In the aftermath, inside linebacker Vince Williams (who also calls Shazier his best friend) took over the play calls. “I don’t think Vince stopped crying until after halftime,” Mitchell would later say—“and that’s one of the most gangster dudes on the team. People had to grab him by the face mask and be like, ‘Yo, you’re the middle linebacker now. You can’t be sniffling.’?”
What happened? During the third quarter against the Dolphins, McCoy twisted his ankle awkwardly and was in great pain. Buffalo’s trainers quickly came onto the field to check on the star running back. While the trainers were attending to McCoy, he punched the turf out of frustration and was carted off the field.
McCoy received an X-ray after the game, and the results were negative. However, he was diagnosed with a sprained ankle and received round-the-clock treatment this week.
On Thursday, McCoy said he was doing his best to return.
“I just want to be able to cut well enough where I don’t have a lot of pain when I’m cutting,” McCoy said, via the Bills’ official team site. “I just want to be close or the best as far as 100 percent I can get. But a game like this you’ve got to lay it on the line. If I can’t get to 100 percent as long as I’m out there and I can run effective enough, I’ll do it. We’ll just see.”