LONDON – The Buffalo Bills said they made no excuses for their loss.
But NFL players view artificial turf as a league-wide safety issue, and in the locker room Sunday after several players were injured at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bills were unhappy with the quality of the surface.
Although not all of the Bills’ injuries were turf-related, All-Pro kicker Matt Milano (knee, lower leg) went down in the first quarter and was done with at least all day. Jaguars left tackle Walker Little (knee) also went down in the first quarter and did not return.
The Bills dealt Dion Dawkins, defensive tackle Ed Oliver, edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Kingsley Jonathan and kickerback Taron Johnson all needing coaches to shepherd them on the field at various points, but all of them are back.
Johnson described the artificial turf as “terrible” and said there was talk in the locker room about the turf being a problem.
“Get that grass out, especially this one,” Johnson said. “I prefer to play on grass. I’m sure 90 to 100 percent of NFL players prefer to play on grass. I don’t know why we play on stuff like that.”
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“There were injuries on the field today, some pretty bad. I just feel like the grass had something to do with it.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium features a grass field that can be rolled on and off the field — similar to what the Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders do — and then laid with an artificial turf-like carpet. It’s Hellas’ “soft surface,” the same surface the Dallas Cowboys have at AT&T Stadium.
Bills receiver Stefon Diggs uttered an expletive and then paused for seven seconds when asked his opinion on the field. “It was fine. That’s all I’ll say,” Diggs said with a smile. Then he added that he would play on any surface the NFL asked of him.
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The field “was strange,” Dawkins said.
“It is what it is,” added linebacker Terrell Bernard. Prompted to describe “what it is,” Bernard laughed and repeated the same five words.
Johnson collapsed on the fake ground with 5:29 left in the third quarter. He lay there, leaning on his side, thinking his season was over. The injured cart entered the stadium.
“This grass is terrible,” Johnson said. “My foot got stuck in the ground, but I’m fine. Thank God.
“It was harder than usual, like it wasn’t being used. I’m not saying that’s an excuse (for the loss), but I know that’s why my feet were stuck to the ground.”
Bills fans roared as Johnson sent the cart away and walked off the field with the coaches. “I ran some tests on it, and they felt like everything was fine,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s scare occurred in a game in which Buffalo already had its top two running backs. Tre’Davious White suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon last week. Christian Benford was unable to play Sunday due to a shoulder injury.
(Photo: Peter van den Berg/USA Today)
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