A big opening week win in the NFL leads to overreactions from pundits and fans alike. However, the Buffalo Bills thorough dismantling of the defending Super Bowl champions made one thing clear. The Buffalo Bills are genuinely the favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl.
As the favorite in the game and the Super Bowl, this might be an overreaction in itself. But it is a case of how they beat the Los Angeles Rams Thursday that made this a statement game. For example, the Bills handed Rams Head Coach Sean McVay his first loss in a season opener after McVay started his career 5-0. This all comes after the NFL decided to send the Bills cross-country to play a game that also featured the Rams’ celebration of the most recent Super Bowl title.
Buffalo Bills Week 1 Win Sends Message Across NFL
Bills Defense is Elite
The Buffalo Bills’ first message to the NFL concerns their defense. Last season, their defense was very good. But if the team had one issue on that side of the ball, it came from the lack of sacks the front seven put on their opponents. They hoped that would change when they signed future Hall of Fame edge rusher Von Miller to improve their pass rush for 2022. That move paid over as the Bills were able to record seven sacks on Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford. Miller recorded two of Buffalo’s seven sacks and has started to pay dividends on the six years and $120 million he was signed for during the offseason.
That pressure by Miller and the Bills pash rushers led to Stafford being picked off three times and buried for minus 49 yards on those seven sacks. It was one of those pressures that the defense that led to an important interception when Stafford overthrew Cooper Kupp and found Jordan Poyer instead. Kupp, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, did have 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the Rams’ offense was kept in check.
The Rams only had 130 total yards heading into the fourth quarter, averaging 6.3 yards per pass attempt and 3.2 yards per rushing attempt. It was at that point the Bills’ offense and defense kept the pressure going, allowing them to score 21 unanswered points in the second half to hand the Rams the largest loss in a season opener by a defending champion at home in league history.
“Trash” Quarterback has a Good Game
Bills’ QB Josh Allen finished 26 of 31 for 297 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions, added 10 carries for 56 yards, and extended the ball across the goal line for a memorable rushing touchdown. For the night, he rushed for 56 yards, scrambling for that memorable 4-yard TD when he stretched the ball over the line and past Rams’ defender Bobby Wagner with 13:27 to play. Even though many did not think Allen would run as much this season, he made another memorable run when he delivered a nasty stiff-arm to Rams safety Nick Scott to ignite Buffalo’s opening drive of the second half.
Allen’s favorite touchdown may have come when he connected with Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a 53-yard touchdown. Diggs beat Rams star cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the lengthy scoring grab and had a few trash-talking words for Ramsey, who once referred to then-rookie Allen as a “trash” player in an infamous interview with GQ in 2018.
Still Room for Improvement
Despite the dominant win, the Bills still have some areas that they need to improve upon. The most notable of those is turnovers. Allen threw two interceptions himself, one of which was his error as he waited a bit too long in trying to connect with Jamison Crowder. The other interception came when an Allen pass slipped through Isaiah McKenzie‘s hands and into Terrell Lewis‘s arms.
The next area for improvement is for the running backs to protect the ball. Bills rookie James Cook fumbled on his first and only NFL carry. Cook can be an x-factor in Buffalo’s offense upon regaining the coaching staff’s trust. The other fumble came when Rams safety Taylor Rapp jarred the ball loose from Zack Moss for a Rams’ takeaway. Fumbling the ball late in the fourth quarter is something Buffalo does not want to occur regularly.
So, the Buffalo Bills are warning the NFL following their Week 1 showing. They are more than ready to make a serious run at the Lombardi trophy after going into the Super Bowl winners’ home stadium and completely wrecking their celebration on the NFL’s opening night.
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