Running back C.J. Spiller may have been the catalyst to ignite the Buffalo Bills’ offense in a Week 2 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, but defensive tackle Marcell Dareus certainly deserves his own recognition.
While it was a rough week for the Bills after getting trounced by the New York Jets in Week 1, the disappointment of losing their first game of 2012 was incomparable to the kind of pain Dareus must have been going through this past week.
The 22-year-old defensive tackle tragically lost his younger brother last weekend in a shooting in Alabama, as reported by the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Dareus, who flew home to be with his family, missed just one day of practice before returning to the team, per the AP (via NFL.com).
Fighting through what can only be described as an unimaginable amount of pain, Dareus proved why he is such a well-respected person and player. His courage and admirable drive has never gone unnoticed by his teammates and coaches in Buffalo, all of whom rallied around Dareus in this difficult time.
On Sunday, in the Bills home opener against the Chiefs, Dareus took the field like he always does, only this time with an enormous weight in his heart. Embraced by tens of thousands of supportive fans at the Ralph cheering him on, Dareus rose above the pain and made a difference on the field.
With just a couple of minutes left to play in the first half, quarterback Matt Cassel dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-9. He scanned the field. He felt the pressure inside the pocket. And he succumbed to the power of Marcell Dareus dragging him down to the turf.
As the crowd erupted, Dareus’ celebration of the sack with his teammates was an emotional one. Players surrounded him, and the fans cheered the play in a tone and volume different than any other normal action on the field.
It was a touching moment filled with both joy and sadness, since it meant so much more than just a sack and a subsequent forced punt. It represented a fraction of the way Dareus will overcome his brother’s death. It brought everyone together. It was an inspirational moment for everyone watching.
And it showed exactly why he is such a huge part of the Buffalo Bills’ success—as he strives to always put everyone else on his back and shoulder the load—even in times like these.
Dareus’ sack and his overall play on Sunday were uplifting. His performance helped motivate an entire team and fan base, but more importantly, it hopefully helped bring a little bit of healing to himself.
With all the support for him reverberating throughout the stadium, Dareus rose above the adversity and shined. In doing so, he proved why he's such a bright star for the Bills.