Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Bills home opener is like a holiday in Western New York. It’s always the first time most fans get an in-person look at the team they love.
If the weather cooperates, which in did this Sunday, it’s a fantastic day of seeing old friends, drinking beers before noon, and football.
With the tension level ratcheted up following a mistake-filled season-opening loss Monday night to the New York Jets in the Meadowlands, fans were understandably eager to see their Bills get well against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders at Highmark Stadium.
It didn’t start out so great, as the Raiders took the opening drive of the game 75 yards in a just a couple of minutes, culminating in a much too easy-looking touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to wide receiver Davante Adams.
An early 7-0 deficit, followed by a three-and-out for the Bills offense, even led to a smattering of boos as the Bills punted the ball back to Vegas.
A short field Bills touchdown set up by a Terrel Bernard interception off a Greg Rousseau tip got the Bills headed in the right direction, and they pretty much took the game over from there, cruising to a 38-10 win.
Just how dominant an afternoon was it? There’s a few different ways to look at it.
One is the Raiders only got to play with the ball for a total of 2:10 in the third quarter.
The halftime score was 21-10. The Bills took the second half kickoff 75 yards on 15 plays, burning 9:01 off the clock. The Bills then intercepted Garoppolo on the Raiders’ only possession of the quarter, and then tacked on a field goal to start the fourth quarter.
By the time Vegas got the ball back, 21-10 had become 31-10, and the game was all but over. All that was left was to see how both teams decided to pass the time remaining.
Buffalo managed to tack on another fourth quarter touchdown to make the blowout official, and a great day culminated with a fan base happily headed for the exits, hopefully to enjoy a little September sunshine in the parking lots.
How dominant was it? Check out some of these numbers:
– Offensive plays: Bills – 74, Raiders – 39
– Rushing yards: Bills – 183, Raiders – 55 (I would add almost none of the Bills rushing yards came from Josh Allen, who carried only three times for seven yards.)
– Time of possession: Bills – 40:04, Raiders – 19:56
– Total yards: Bills – 450, Raiders – 240
Following their 75-yard opening touchdown drive, the Raiders only gained 165 yards the rest of the way.
Allen mixed some spectacular touchdown passes in with a very disciplined, take what they’re giving approach, and the results were fantastic. Nine players caught passes. Allen took care of the football, and all three of their running backs had their moments.
The plan to not let Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby wreck their game worked well too. Right tackle Spencer Brown got some help, at times, but handled himself well when left alone. That has to be encouraging.
Head coach Sean McDermott chose to attempt fourth down conversions four times on Sunday, converting three, including a touchdown. The offensive plan, especially neutralizing Crosby, worked perfectly.
Defensively, the Bills held the defending rushing champion, Josh Jacobs, to minus-2 yards on the day. All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano made an insane play for his second interception in as many games. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver was a menace. Pass rusher Greg Rousseau made the tip on the aforementioned Bernard pick.
So good marks all around. A huge improvement from Monday night in New Jersey. A great day for the players, the coaches, and the fans.