For most Buffalo Bills fans, seeing the New England Patriots fall on their face in the AFC Championship game this past Sunday would’ve been satisfaction enough. Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens advancing to the Super Bowl, however, fans found themselves with a nice Monday bonus. C.J. Spiller, Kyle Williams and Jairus Byrd were all named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster Monday and rushed to Hawaii to join their conference teammates.
They replace Ed Reed, Ray Rice and Haloti Ngata of the Ravens, who of course now have more important business to attend to on February 3 in New Orleans.
Byrd’s selection as the first alternate righted a glaring wrong. Byrd tied for the AFC lead this season with five interceptions and has a well-earned reputation around the league as one of the best secondary defenders. This marks Byrd’s second nod to the Pro Bowl in his four years and the league and the pending free agent will get paid this offseason. You can bet the farm that Buffalo either signs him to a nice extension or places the franchise tag on him in the coming weeks.
Spiller was also deserving of a Pro Bowl spot to begin with, though he comes from a conference stacked with quality backs like Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and Rice. Spiller ran for a career-best 1,244 yards on just 207 carries and led the entire league with a 6.0 yards per carry average. This is the first of what could become many trips to Hawaii for Spiller, who’s far more excited about the opportunity than either of his teammates.
Sometimes a player’s reputation trumps his play and that may be the case with Williams this season. He’d probably be the first to say he didn’t have a great year but with Ngata going to the Super Bowl, Williams got the call from the league to replace him. Williams finished the season with five sacks but was often ineffective compared to his standards, particularly in the second half of the season as he bothered nagging injuries for a majority of the season.
So while Buffalo was shut out when the Pro Bowl team came out, at least three key players will get to put on a uniform and perform one more time this season.