With a sack, interception and an opening day victory for new coach Sean McDermott, it was difficult to imagine a better debut for Buffalo Bills free agent free safety Jordan Poyer.
But then, Buffalo’s entirely revamped secondary had quite a start, with Poyer, strong safety Micah Hyde and cornerbacks Tre White and E.J. Gaines combining for 15 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended.
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“You know, it’s a great team win, all 11 guys on defense,’’ said Poyer following the Bills’ 21-12 victory Sunday over the New York Jets at New Era Field in front of 68,751 fans. “It was fun to play in front of that crowd. We have a lot of work to do, we’re excited to get that first win, but we have a lot of work to do.’’
Especially with better quarterbacks than Josh McCown (18-43-0 career record) on the schedule.
Factoring in free-agent moves and trades, the Bills debuted four new starters in the secondary and showed well in holding McCown to 26 completions in 39 attempts for 187 yards and no touchdowns (56.2 rating).
The unit was especially effective in the fourth quarter and Buffalo protecting its nine-point lead. Poyer picked off a McCown pass to Robby Anderson, making an aggressive move on the ball at the Buffalo 23-yard line. For a moment, it appeared Anderson had control but the interception awarded the Bills was upheld by replay.
“It was cover 2, all 11 guys doing their jobs,’’ Poyer said. “The play was there to be made and I was just fortunate to make the play and come down with it.’’
Later, Hyde sealed the victory with an interception on a deep desperation throw by McCown intended for Jermaine Kearse. In the third quarter, White, the Bills first-round pick, made a nice pass breakup in the end zone but the Jets later scored on the drive to cut Buffalo’s lead to 14-12.
Poyer came over from the Cleveland Browns and Hyde from the Green Bay Packers as their top free-agent signings. They were installed immediately as Buffalo’s starting safeties and Sunday proved why.
“A lot of people have counted him and counted myself out, so we made a promise to each other, to this whole secondary and to this team, we’re giving it our all this whole season,’’ Hyde said. “We came in together and we’re pushing each other, that’s all we ask of each other.’’