After receiving a moving text message in the lead-up to Week 18, Jordan Poyer knew the Patriots didn’t stand a chance at Highmark Stadium.
New England had everything to play for in the final week of the regular season. The Patriots would have claimed a playoff berth with a win in Buffalo as well as a first-round date with the Cincinnati Bengals, who New England narrowly fell to in Week 16.
But the Bills were equally motivated last weekend, and it didn’t have much to do with playoff implications. The matchup with the Patriots marked Buffalo’s first game since the scary incident involving Damar Hamlin, whose improved health after the collapse in Cincinnati raised his team’s spirits to the highest degree.
The Bills kept in touch with Hamlin throughout last week through FaceTime, Zoom and text messages. But Poyer, one of Buffalo’s nine team captains, received a personal text message from Hamlin’s father that had him believing the Patriots-Bills result was a foregone conclusion.
“After I read that, I was like ‘Let’s get it,'” Poyer said on his Bleacher Report podcast, as transcribed by Sports Illustrated. “I knew we were gonna beat the Patriots, everyone knew we were gonna beat the Patriots.”
Poyer added: “The messages that I got back from his dad … he said ‘We need you to be a leader for the men. It’s time to get back to work and finish the mission. Damar sacrificed himself to help the team accomplish. It’s what he’d want. Ten toes down.'”
Even though the playoffs are a different beast, Poyer and the Bills arguably should be even more confident about Sunday’s game at Highmark Stadium. The AFC East champs can play with even more joy now that Hamlin is back in Buffalo and their wild-card opponent, the Miami Dolphins, is set to start a rookie quarterback.