The NFL is showing the Buffalo Bills and defensive safety Jairus Byrd some love this week, as he was name the AFC Defensive Player of the week in his match-up against the Arizona Cardinals. There have been many different opinions floating around about Byrd and his potential on this team since he was drafted in 2009 by the Bills in the second round. After starting hot in his first year in Buffalo, he has seemed to lack confidence and has battled injuries and struggling to live up to his first year reputation and many have thought he was a one hit wonder.
In 2009, Byrd played 14 games for the Bills. He was embraced by fans and coaches as he recorded 9 interceptions that year and took part in 45 tackles. He ranked number one in interceptions that year, tied with only Asante Samuel and Darren Sharper. He also was a 2009 Pro-Bowler. He brought excitement and kept Buffalo in games that year.
After 2009, Byrd really struggled to maintain his dominance. In 2010 and 2011, Byrd recorded only 4 interceptions combined under Chan Gailey. He was able to get a sack on the quarterback in both of those years, buy fans started to wonder if he was really as good as originally thought. While Byrd brought a veteran presence and is a strong tackler, Bills fans have been impatient and with one of the worst defenses in the league, performance by many players just wasn’t cutting it.
Byrd seems to be making a come- back this season, already grabbing three interceptions and recovering a fumble before the bye. Byrd has also forced two fumbles, showing his strong tackling is catching receivers off guard, especially some of the best. His two forced fumbles came in week 4 against the New England Patriots by forcing both Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski to fumble in the first half.
This week, Buffalo’s veteran leader took matters into his own hands and finished the game for the team. Byrd landed two interceptions when the Cardinals looked locked to upset the Bills who led for most of the game. One of his interceptions came during overtime after Buffalo chose to punt the ball away and give the defense a chance to take a stand. That they did, as Byrd came up with the interception and led Buffalo to the game winning field goal. Welcome back Byrd. Buffalo has missed you.
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