This weekend, the NFL wild card round between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins is a battle between two teams that have experienced hardships. Each instance has involved a player that was injured in ways that make people question the game but also play harder for their fallen teammate.
The Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin re-energized the world through the injury he suffered live on television. Nothing is more tragic than watching a gridiron warrior deliver or take a hit and then wobble while standing. Hamlin collapsed, which was followed by the scene of the Bills praying for him until he was driven off the field in an ambulance. The Monday, Jan. 2, night game against the Cincinnati Bengals was canceled and will never be rebooked.
Bills’ Dion Dawkins just compared playing the Dolphins for a third time like going on a “third date.”
“We’re going on our third date. Hopefully we can take them home.” 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/iIPoL2yi3s
— Jacob Meshel (@fins_dynasty) January 11, 2023
The Hamlin Effect
However, the Bills were energized for Hamlin as Bills running back Nyheim Hines scored two kickoff return touchdowns in the team’s 35-23 Week 18 win against the Patriots. It was Buffalo’s first game since Hamlin collapsed. It was also the first time a Bills player took it to the house in four years.
That was their last game. The day after the game, Hamlin took to Twitter to give the world his appreciation.
Headed home to Buffalo today with a lot of love on my heart. 🏾
Watching the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an amazing feeling.
The same love you all have shown me is the same love that I plan to put back into the world n more.
Bigger than football! 🏾
— 𝐃𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐫 𝐇𝐚𝐦𝐥𝐢𝐧 (@HamlinIsland) January 9, 2023
“Headed home to Buffalo today with a lot of love on my heart,” Hamin wrote on Twitter. “Watching the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an amazing feeling.
“The same love you all have shown me is the same love that I plan to put back into the world n more.
“Bigger than football!”
The next game for the Bills is their wild card game against the Miami Dolphins, and the energy at home in support of Hamlin’s recovery will undoubtedly be off the chain from the team and maniacal fans known as the Bills Mafia.
Tua Tagovailoa is out for the Dolphins' Wild Card against the Bills.
"First and foremost, I feel terrible for Tua. … Miami cannot function without him." pic.twitter.com/frDdS1KQHt
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 11, 2023
The Tua Factor
On the flip side, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been on the mind of the football world based on his on-field stumbles and thin offensive line protection that has kept him in concussion protocols.
Does anyone think Tua should play the rest of this season? 2 confirmed concussions plus the one the rest of us know was a concussion but they say wasn’t. It just feels wrong to string this thing out and then “well he passed protocol so he’s good to go!” Give him months to heal. https://t.co/Xh4SxItyGk
— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz71) January 11, 2023
The game now serves as a reminder of the value of a player’s life. Ironically, two games prior, the Bills defeated the Dolphins in Buffalo 32-29, with Tua Tagovailoa playing and throwing two touchdowns. Since, Sunday, Jan. 1, Tua has been in concussion protocols, with Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater filling in QB duties.
But in two games, each has been lackluster, with a TD and interception apiece. In their last game, an 11-6 win over the New York Jets, Skylar made no touchdowns, and the team survived off kicks. Bridgewater was never even tapped to enter the game after suffering from a finger injury in Week 17 versus the Patriots.
Tagovailoa has been ruled out Sunday and remains in the league’s concussion protocol.
“As of today, Tua has not been cleared by doctors to resume football activities on the field with his teammates, so because of that and because of the time that he’s missed, I can rule him out for Sunday,” Miami head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Wednesday.
Tua has been ruled out for this week’s playoff game because he hasn’t cleared the concussion protocol. Even if he had cleared the protocol the focus should be on the PERSON BEFORE THE PLAYER. There’s life after football and the quality of it is more important than a playoff game
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 11, 2023
That leaves the pressure on veteran QB Bridgewater or the rookie Skylar, and the rookie looks like their go-to QB. Will the team rally around the loss of Tua the way the Bills will around Hamlin to propel the win on the Buffalo tundra?
The winner will have more to prove in the battle of teams with emotional motivation.