Kyle Williams has played his entire career with the Buffalo Bills, and until Sunday’s 22-16 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, Williams had never played in a meaningful Week 17 game during his time in Western New York, much less a playoff game.
Thanks to both the Bills’ (9-7) clutch win over the Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals’ comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens, Bills fans were delivered their first playoff berth since the 1999 season, and Williams, in his 12th year out of LSU, is finally heading to the NFL’s postseason.
With his teammates by his side, and surrounded by his two boys, Williams gathered around the television and saw Andy Dalton find Tyler Boyd for the go-ahead touchdown on an improbable fourth-and-12 play that clinched the Bills long-awaited return to the postseason.
Then, in the words of former longtime play-by-play man Van Miller, pandemonium broke out in the Bills locker room as Williams finally got to experience the joy associated with making the playoffs. It’s the first word Williams used when discussing the aftermath of the Bengals’ 4th down win.
“Pandemonium,” Williams told Peter King of Sports Illustrated. “Guys hugging, guys crying. And all I can think of is, ‘Baltimore’s got three timeouts left. They got Flacco. They got almost a minute. This isn’t over.”’
But the Ravens couldn’t move the ball and were stopped on 4th down, allowing tense Bills players (and fans) to relax. Then and only then did the veteran meet with the assembled media gathered outside the team’s locker room.
"I'm grateful," Williams told the media. "There's been so much work to get here. I'm not leaving until this gets done."
Sean McDermott, Buffalo’s first-year head coach, embraced Williams after the Bengals unlikely win over the Ravens. Williams, who addressed his teammates before the Dolphins game, was given the floor in the locker room and didn’t mince words when describing how great it felt for the Bills, who many pundits felt were tanking entering the 2017 season, to earn a spot in the playoffs.
"Not us, right? Not us. Not us. Let's tank it, man. Let's just be done with it," Williams said. "They don't know anything about heart. They don't know anything about work. Huh? That's who we are. These boys are gonna enjoy it with their dad. They knew what was coming and they wanted to come celebrate with us."
Ever the gracious teammate, and never one to seek the spotlight, Williams deflected the attention away from himself, an especially difficult task on a day when Williams scored a big one-yard touchdown run, the first touchdown since his high school days.
Instead of taking this moment and celebrating his first playoff trip, Williams, the heart and soul of the Bills and a fan favorite, thought of all the talented former Buffalo teammates who never got to experience the playoffs during their time in Western New York.
“I would imagine they’re smiling tonight,” said Williams. “Those guys meant so much to me early in my career and helped me along. To be able to carry the flag for them and be able to get this done and let them enjoy it, I’m sure I’ll talk to them tonight. It’s a great feeling. I’m proud that they can enjoy a small part of it.”
“Where is today for me? Number one, obviously,” Williams told King during his extended one-on-one interview. “We accomplished stuff today that we set out to accomplish every year, and we did it. All the ups and down I’ve had, we’ve had, worth it. The surgeries, the losses, everything—worth it.”
The Bills will travel to Jacksonville for a 1:00 p.m. Eastern Wild Card showdown on Sunday.