LANDOVER, Md. — The Buffalo Bills’ defense got chewed up Saturday by the Washington Redskins’ power running game and their third and fourth quarterbacks.
Washington rushed for 208 yards in rolling to a 30-7 victory over the Bills.
The Redskins were without starting quarterback Robert Griffin III and No. 2 QB Kirk Cousins. It mattered little. Journeyman veteran Rex Grossman and Pat White, who has been out of the NFL for three years, combined to pass for 267 yards.
Washington outgained the Bills, 452 to 155. The Redskins held the ball for 38:52 to just 21:08 for Buffalo. Washington ran 81 plays to just 49 for the Bills.
The loss dropped the Bills to 2-1. Washington improved to 3-0.
“Obviously we are disappointed in our performance,” said coach Doug Marrone. “We had a chance to make some plays early on in the game and didn’t. … It’s a work in progress and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Bills’ defensive starters played the entire first half, but the numbers weren’t any prettier for the first-liners.
In building a 20-7 halftime lead, Washington rolled up 299 total yards and 96 rushing yards.
Washington ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing last season, averaging 169 yards a game.
Buffalo ranked 31st in defending the run. The Bills’ starting defense had looked good the first two games. Buffalo had allowed just seven first downs in seven possessions with its starters on the field.
“It was pretty bad,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “It just seemed like it was flat at the beginning, even through warm-up, and it just kind of carried through into the game. We had a couple guys get banged up. You know, you won two preseason games. It’s no reason to come out and sleepwalk through a third. So hopefully it’s good learning and we’ll learn from the things we made mistakes on and get back to work this week and try to correct them and get better.”
Washington marched 86 yards to a touchdown on its first drive, capped by a 7-yard scoring pass from Grossman to Pierre Garcon. The Redskins went 70 yards to a field goal on their second drive. The fourth drive was an 83-yard march to a touchdown, which came via a 14-yard option run by White. The fifth and final Redskins drive of the first half was a 44-yard march to a field goal.
“We missed some tackles,” Marrone said of the run defense. “I think we missed some tackles that we clearly had some good opportunities on.”
The Redskins converted a third-and-10 play on their second possession by getting a 45-yard pass play to Santana Moss. The pass went just over the outstretched hand of Da’Norris Searcy and Aaron Williams slightly overran the play and missed the tackle, allowing Moss to get 24 yards after the catch.
The ’Skins didn’t need any third-down conversions on their second TD march of the first half. White ran the read-option, faking to the running back from the shotgun formation and running around left end. Jerry Hughes swooped in to take the running back. White outraced Nigel Bradham and Searcy to the corner of the end zone.
“Assignments,” Marrone said. “You know, we didn’t have anyone on the quarterback. We went and took the faked dive. … To sit up here and make excuses — hey, we didn’t get the play.”
The Bills did not throw many five-man rushes at the Redskins in the first half.
“I know Marrone is going to push us,” said linebacker Arthur Moats. “He’s going to make sure we bounce back.”
The Bills suffered two other key injuries, besides the blow to the head to Kevin Kolb.
Starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore left in the second quarter with a wrist injury. He did not return. Searcy left in the second quarter after taking a blow to the head. He did not return.
Gilmore was replaced by Justin Rogers. Searcy was replaced by rookie Duke Williams.
The Bills got a scare in the first quarter when C.J. Spiller appeared to injure his leg after scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run. Spiller tried to get up, sat down on the field for a minute, then walked off. He returned for a couple of plays on each of the next two possessions then left the game for good.
“At first when I went out he said, ‘Hey, I’m fine, there’s nothing wrong,’ ” said Marrone. “I don’t know if he was stepped on or hit. He wanted to go back in there so we let him back in there. Then we said, ‘That’s it, we’re going to hold him out.’ ”
Spiller had eight carries for 39 yards.
The Bills’ offense produced almost nothing the second half. Buffalo had six possessions and went three plays and out on each. The Bills managed just 44 yards after intermission.
Jeff Tuel finished 10 of 17 for 63 yards with no TDs and no interceptions.
Receiver Stevie Johnson and cornerback Leodis McKelvin both got their first preseason action. Johnson had four catches for 28 yards.
Griffin, rehabilitating from the knee injury he suffered in the playoffs in January, has yet to be cleared for game action, although he’s practicing. Cousins suffered an ankle injury in the second exhibition and was out. In pregame warm-ups, Griffin was in full uniform, throwing passes.
Grossman, entering his 11th season, is 25-22 as an NFL starter. He went 5-8 for Washington in 2011 with 16 TD passes and 20 interceptions. White entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2009. He was out of the NFL the last three seasons.
The Redskins’ defense was without three starters. Nose tackle Barry Cofield, left defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and strong safety Brandon Merriweather all were out.