The domination was, at times, downright scary.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense owned the line of scrimmage. It owned the secondary. It owned everything … especially the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck.
He was flustered and confused, intercepted and sacked as the Bills cruised to a 27-14 victory in Sunday’s season-opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bills’ front seven simply beat up the Colts’ offensive linemen. And Rex Ryan put on a clinic with his packages of blitzes and fake blitzes that had blockers in a game-long frenzy as they tried to figure out the direction from which the pressure was coming.
Despite making Frank Gore a key offseason addition, the Colts didn’t even try to run the football, figuring it would be fruitless, even though the Bills were without their best run-stuffer and overall defender: tackle Marcell Dareus, who was serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. And that was well before Gore developed calf cramps late in the game.
The Bills succeeded in making Andrew Luck, considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, look like a first-time starter in the league, not the guy who actually was making his first NFL start: Tyrod Taylor. For the record, he made that start as a wide receiver. Matt Cassel officially started at quarterback, with Taylor running behind him on a run by LeSean McCoy that lost six yards.
Taylor was spectacular in his own right. He threw a perfect, 51-yard strike to Percy Harvin for one touchdown and also had a 31-yard run to set up a 26-yard scoring gallop by rookie Karlos Williams. Taylor completed 14 of 19 passes for 195 yards with no turnovers.
Seeing the Bills score on their first four possessions brought back memories of the team’s mid-'90s heyday when opponents routinely were overwhelmed.
I’m not suggesting this team is as good as that one or even close. Not after one game. McCoy, the Bills’ biggest offseason acquisition who was dealing with hamstring issues, had a rough start to the season with only 41 yards on 17 carries.
But there was an entirely different vibe at The Ralph than has been felt there in a very long time. The electricity is palpable. The team and its fans are fully bought into the idea that this team can be something special this year, just as Rex Ryan has been preaching since the day he was introduced as the new head coach.
We’ll see if they’re all still feeling that way in a week, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots come to town.
For now, however, it’s one big party being hosted by Ryan, his defense, and a quarterback who spent the past four years as a backup in Baltimore.