It is much too early to get carried away by the Bills 27 – 14 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but it certainly was an important victory statement for a team looking to break a 15-year playoff drought, longest active streak in the NFL.
I wrote last week that I thought the opening game at home against Andrew Luck and the Colts was a contest that the revamped Bills under Rex Ryan needed to win to be taken seriously, and win it they did.
“That was a statement,” Bills running back Boobie Dixon told the Buffalo News after the game, and indeed it was. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor did what he needed to do, firing a 51-yard scoring strike to Percy Harvin and scampering around enough in the pocket to wear down the Colts defenders.
For the game, Taylor was 14 for 19 for 195 yards and the touchdown to Harvin who totaled five catches for 85 yards. Andrew Luck completed 26 passes in 49 attempts for 243 yards in the loss but also suffered two interceptions.
Buffalo’s highly-touted defense lived up to the hype, holding the Colts to 64 net rushing yards in a dominating performance.
Now this by no means signals the Bills are ready to take the league by storm. It is one game and counts for one win. But it is encouraging and does signal that Taylor may be able to fill the most important gap on this team, the quarterback position. The Bills were a decent team last year but lacked a leader on offense, a role Taylor may be able to fill this season. And if he does, this Bills team and its swarming defense could make a serious playoff run at last.
Next week, once again before the wild hometown fans, the Bills will take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. If the Patriots and Brady were deflated by “deflategate,” there was no sign of it in their opening win over the Steelers as Brady was near perfect, passing for 288 yards and four touchdowns (three to Gronk) in the 28 – 21 win.
The Patriots will most certainly offer a stern test for Buffalo in week two and the game could say a lot about whether Buffalo is as strong as the win over the Colts might suggest. Luck is good but he’s not Tom Brady (4 Super Bowls) and we’ll have to see if Buffalo’s secondary can hold up against Brady who will find any weakness (or weak defender) and exploit it to the hilt.
I’d like to think Rex and the Buffalo coaches are riding high right now, as they should be, after that impressive win over a team with a super young quarterback. But Rex has been around long enough to know that it was just one game and doesn’t mean a whole lot just yet. But it does mean something, and I’m ready to give the Bills a chance against the Patriots if Taylor stays cool and poised as he was against the Colts and the ground game picks up a little to keep the pressure off the inexperienced signal caller.
The Bills will need to move the ball against the Patriots to have a chance because no defense, even Buffalo’s, can hold Brady in check for long and the best defense is to keep him off the field as much as possible That will be Buffalo’s challenge on Sunday.
But it feels good to write a generally positive story about the Bills after all these years of frustration and poor play, and it may be no coincidence that the new owners have breathed new life into a franchise that has been in the dumps for a very long time. Yes, Ralph Wilson kept them here, but it never seemed winning was his priority. He made plenty of money and has shown to be a philanthropic force, but he seemed out of touch with the football side of the operation and left it to his underlings who did a terrible job for a very long time.
Maybe things are changing and let’s hope so. We all know how caught up folks are around here about the Bills, and maybe this is the year they will have something to cheer about for the whole season and the post season. .Let’s hope so. It has been a long time since one of our sports teams made a run. Sunday against the Patriots will tell us a lot.