Former Practice Squad Player Makes “Biggest Play of my Life” to Save Bills

Patriots Field Goal

Getty New England Patriots Field Goal

When the Buffalo Bills were taking on the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this season, former practice squad member Justin Zimmer almost forced a late fumble that would’ve put the Bills in prime position to win the game.

Just milliseconds before the ball popped out of his hands, Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s knee touched the ground and he was ruled down.

On Sunday, Zimmer came up behind Patriots quarterback Cam Newton with the game on the line and this time, he made sure the ball popped out before the runner was ruled down as the Bills walked away with a 24-21 victory at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park.

“I wasn’t 100-percent sure that I knocked it out so as soon as I turned around and saw that I did knock it out, it was pure excitement honestly,” Zimmer said in a post game press conference.

Dean Marlowe, who was filling in for safety Micah Hyde, recovered the fumble and the Bills defense locked up the victory for the Bills.

“This was probably the best play ever honestly,” Zimmer said.”I thought it was going to be against KC and I forced that fumble that didn’t end up happening. That was probably going to be the biggest play of my life just because I don’t know if I’ve ever forced a fumble to end a game. So this one would definitely be the biggest play of my life.”

It was the first time the Bills had beat the Patriots in Orchard Park since Sept. 25, 2011. It was also the first time the Bills have beat the Patriots since Oct. 2, 2016.

Proving his Worth

The Bills signed Zimmer to the 53-man active roster after their matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this year. The interior defensive linemen had made six tackles and a tackle for a loss during that matchup.

He only tallied 19 snaps against the New York Jets last week and only recorded one tackle on Sunday against the Patriots. But he made one big play that earned the Bills their sixth victory of the season and although the stats may not always be there the Bills know what Zimmer is all about.

“When know what Zimmer is about, we call him our quiet assassin,” defensive end Jerry Hughes said in his post game press conference. “He comes to work and he’s going to work and it’s great to see him go out there and produce and make the plays.”

Who is Justin Zimmer?

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle is a 27-year-old from Greenville, MI. He went to Greensville High School before attending Division II Ferris State, where he had a standout career for the Bulldogs.

During his four years in Big Rapids, MI, Zimmer played in 42 games and made 35 starts. He totaled 216 tackles, 48.5 for a loss, and also forced nine fumbles. During his senior season in 2015, Zimmer was named to the D2CCA All-America team, among others, after recording 81 tackles, 26 for a loss, 13 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He also made one fumble recovery, blocked a kick, and defended five passes.

Bills fans know how McDermott loves his former wrestlers too. Well, Zimmer won regional wrestling championships in both his junior and senior year of high school.

After going undrafted in the 2016 NFL draft, Zimmer signed with the Bills. He went on to spend time with the Saints in 2017, which is when he played in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. Zimmer made his NFL debut in 2018 with the Atlanta Falcons. He played in one game but didn’t record any stats.

In 2019, he joined the Cleveland Browns, played in two games, recorded five total tackles and one for a loss. So far in 2020, Zimmer has made 10 total tackles and also recorded a quarterback hit.

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