Four starts into his NFL career, Buffalo Bills linebacker Terrel Bernard has captured the attention of the league. On Wednesday, Bernard was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week following a commanding performance against the Washington Commanders. All told, Bernard again led the team in tackles with seven (5 solo), two tackles for loss, claimed two sacks, one incredibly athletic interception, and a fumble recovery.
If you haven’t to this point, let those numbers sink in a minute. There are plenty of talented NFL defenders who struggle to accomplish that much in a career. Yet Bernard did so in three hours’ work — and now resides with some pretty lofty company having become “(j)ust the seventh player in league history to record those stats in a regular season game.”
Terrel Bernard has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. pic.twitter.com/qewY5VS2hW— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) September 27, 2023
As noted in the embedded social media post from the Bills’ official PR account, on Sunday Bernard became “(t)he first NFL player with two sacks, one INT, and one FR in a regular season game since Brian Urlacher with Chi. at Min., 12/17/07.”
For the Buffalo Bills, Bernard’s individual accomplishment was the first instance for any player in franchise history. Ever, which is incredible if you consider those defensive legends who played before Bernard was even born.
Bernard’s gridiron story has stolen the hearts of Bills Mafia, who had essentially no idea what he’d bring to the team in 2023 having rarely seen the field as a rookie last season. Much of the discussion leading up to this point was how One Bills Drive was going to function on defense following the loss of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. It turns out, at least through three weeks, head coach Sean McDermott knew exactly what to do.
Up next for Terrel Bernard and Buffalo’s defense is a high-pressure date with the offensive juggernaut that is the Miami Dolphins. While expecting similar production from the second-year linebacker making just his fifth start in Week 4 might be a bit heavy on wishful thinking, it’s clear everyone outside of One Bills Drive underestimated Bernard’s ability.