Season-ending playoff defeats are always crushing, but Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs is taking his team's 27-10 home loss against the third-seeded Cincinnati Bengals especially hard. According to The Athletic, Diggs sprinted out of the locker room with all of his things before some of Buffalo's coaching staff even made it down to the tunnel that leads to the locker room. Veteran running back Duke Johnson, who is on the Bills' practice squad, escorted his teammate back to the locker room before he once again darted out and left Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, for good on Sunday.
The 29-year-old, who has served as a Bills team captain for both of the 2021 and 2022 seasons after being acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Vikings in 2020, also lit into Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen late in the game on the sideline. Diggs caught four passes for 35 yards on a game-high 10 targets, but only two of them occurred in the fourth quarter with the Bills entered trailing 24-10. After the loss, Allen said he would need to review the tape to see "whatever it was that we couldn't get [Diggs] the ball tonight we're gonna have to learn from."
Diggs defended his behavior on Twitter on Monday evening with three tweets, explaining he isn't OK with losing and that he's going to call out when the Bills don't meet their standard.
Want me to be okay with losing ? Nah— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) January 23, 2023
Want me to be okay with our level of play when it’s not up to the standard ? Nah— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) January 23, 2023
It’s easy to criticize my reaction more than the result.— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) January 23, 2023
Head coach Sean McDermott clarified that Diggs was in the locker room when he addressed the team, which he said was "what matters most." He also addressed Diggs' outburst, rationalizing his actions:
"He's a competitive guy," McDermott said, via NewYorkUpstate.com. "That's what makes him good is what you saw. He's very competitive like we all are. We work extremely hard at these jobs to be the best we can possibly be, and it hurts. I wouldn't want a guy that doesn't hurt, right? So when you put it all on the line out there, we put it all on the line, and tonight it wasn't good enough. That's the part that stings."
Diggs has played like arguably the best wide receiver in team history since coming over from Minnesota. He co-leads the entire league in catches (338) with Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, ranks second in targets (484), fourth in receiving yards (4,189) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (29) since becoming a Bill in 2020. Each of Diggs' first three seasons in Buffalo rank as the top three seasons in team history in terms of catches in a year. His 2020 season (1,535 receiving yards) and 2022 season (1,429 receiving yards) are the two-highest single-season receiving yard totals in Bills history. Diggs' 11 receiving touchdowns this season tied the team's single-season receiving touchdowns record with Bill Brooks' 11 from the 1995 season.
Diggs signed a four-year, $96 million extension with the team on April 6, tying him to Western New York's team through his age-34 season in 2027. The deal got done at that time with 2023 set to be his last year under contract. How the Bills decide to manage this outburst could potentially reshape their entire offense, as a series of cryptic tweets from Diggs precluded the Vikings deciding to trade him despite his production just a few years back.