One Buffalo Bills player is circling the wagons to defend teammate Matt Milano after the linebacker was accused of dirty play against the Miami Dolphins.
Milano, who was just named to the first All-Pro team of his career, had a major impact in his team’s 34-31 win over the Dolphins on January 15. He led the Buffalo defense with 10 total tackles and two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.
Milano also set the tone for the game with a big hit on Skylar Thompson as the Dolphins quarterback was scrambling toward the sideline. Though Milano hit Thompson while the quarterback still had a foot inbounds, many Dolphins fans labeled the hit “dirty” and noted the Bills linebacker’s spotty history against Miami.
That prompted Bills lineman Rodger Saffold to rise to Milano’s defense.
Rodger Saffold Sticks Up for Bills Teammate
Dolphins reporter Simon Stallings shared a video of the play on Twitter, adding that if the hit had been against one of the league’s big-name quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen, the “NFL would’ve launched an investigation.”
Saffold shared the tweet, noting that Milano’s hit was perfectly legal and should have been expected.
“Clearly in bounds and as a Qb you probably shouldn’t trot to the sideline,” Saffold tweeted. “Defenders will defend every blade of grass on the field.”
Others joined Saffold in defending Milano, who immediately after the hit turned to a referee to clarify that Thompson was still inbounds when he started the hit.
Matt Milano Punished AFC East Opponents, Generated Controversy
In his All-Pro season, Milano saved some of his best performances — and biggest hits — for the team’s AFC East opponents. That included a controversial hit on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a September game that was flagged for roughing the passer.
After the play, Tagovailoa appeared to be unsteady on his feet and was evaluated for a concussion, though the team and league doctors ultimately decided his stumble was related to a back injury and he returned for the second half.
Tagovailoa suffered another hit to the head days later in a Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals, this time being diagnosed with a concussion. Though Milano was flagged for the play, the league determined later that week that he would not face a fine.
The Bills linebacker was involved in another viral hit weeks later, when the Bills faced the New York Jets in Week 14. Milano delivered a hard hit to Mike White that folded the Jets quarterback and left him with fractured ribs.
After what he called his “most complete season” — posting 99 tackles, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries — Milano said he was thrilled to be named to the All-Pro team.
“It’s a blessing,” Milano said. “Thank you to whoever voted for that, or whoever’s in charge of the whole situation. But honestly blessed to be named that realm.”
Milano also gave credit to his teammates for the strong season.
“Anytime you have your teammates behind you in that area, it means a lot,” Milano said. “But either way, my teammates respect me. So, with or without that All-Pro title behind it, I felt like we had a good relationship.”