Ahead of their AFC Divisional Tilt at Orchard Park on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills recalled having a completely different game plan in mind going into a crucial Week 17 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, January 2nd .
Then the unthinkable happened when Bill’s safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest in the first quarter, leaving Cincy 7-3 up. The game was postponed before being canceled altogether as the NFL held its breath in the days that followed.
Luckily, Hamlin is back in Buffalo while he continues his recovery. Both teams now have some chance of a rematch with seemingly many lessons to glean from minimal action in what should become one of the best of the regular season.
However, with the first meeting only lasting about half a quarter, Bill’s defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier doesn’t want his defense to become too involved in the previous game plan to avoid confusion for a competition that will be unique in its own way.
“I think you have to be careful not to dig too much and try to uncover this or that,” Frazier said. “Because we spent a lot of time before our last game and you’re right it’s only been three weeks. They’ve only played two games since we played them, and same with us. So you have to be careful not to overthink it, overanalyze it.”
If anything, the Bills defense had a chance to see up close what the Bengals offense is capable of and is the unit that can take the most from the cancellation. Cincinnati scored with ease when Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow split the Buffalo secondary before finding receiver Tyler Boyd for the game-opening touchdown.
Frazier and the Buffalo defense saw firsthand what many teams have experienced when taking on Cincinnati’s elite offense.
“There are many different things that different teams have tried but not with great success,” he said. “We’ll try to find a way to disrupt them as best we can.”
Still, the philosophy doesn’t change: pester Burrow in the bag and the rest will take care of itself.
“We’re going to have our hands full trying to find ways to get him to keep the ball,” Frazier said. “But that’s the goal, to get him to hold it so we’re after the quarterback.”
The Bills and Bengals kickoff is Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET at Highmark Stadium.
Follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmit7
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