Never mind Sunday’s blowout and consider the difference a week makes. The Bills were too hyped up against the Patriots but actually took a passive approach to their biggest game in a decade. They were considerably more subdued last week before unloading their aggression on the Dolphins.
Trash talking may motivate certain players, usually younger players, but that’s not what wins and loses football games. Everybody is motivated in the NFL. The Bills didn’t need to tone down their voices while preparing for the Dolphins. They simply needed to become more assertive, come with more oomph.
Same players, same coaches.
The biggest adjustment was in their attitude.
What you saw Sunday was a complete team with an unwavering competitiveness from start to finish. They bullied the Dolphins from the beginning, built a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter and earned a 41-14 victory. It was a convincing win on the road, the kind that can restore confidence and push a team forward.
Finally, Rex Ryan unleashed the dogs and stepped out of the way. He stood on the sidelines while Tyrod Taylor solidified his place as the No. 1 quarterback. Taylor completed 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns before giving way to EJ Manuel with about eight minutes remaining.
Ryan sat back while rookie Karlos Williams rushed 12 times for 110 yards, popping off a 41-yard score in the fourth quarter. LeSean McCoy (11 carries, 16 yards) might be hailed as the superstar back, but Williams has been the more effective one through three games. If McCoy’s sore hamstring is hampering his play, he should stay on the sidelines.
Buffalo’s biggest change was in their thinking.
The shift was evident on their first play, when Taylor completed a pass to Charles Clay and showed the Dolphins that he could be on the move. Greg Roman made sure to get Clay involved early against his old team. Taylor covered all 77 yards on five straight completions and a touchdown toss to Clay.
It surfaced again late in the second quarter when Buffalo sent Bacarri Rambo on a delayed blitz, forcing Ryan Tannehill’s pass that linebacker Preston Brown took 43 yards for their third touchdown. Tannehill was under duress the next series when he threw a terrible pass that Ronald Darby intercepted.
Tannehill was brutal, by the way. He couldn’t have thrown out the garbage without the neighbors intercepting. His teammates weren’t any better in an abysmal performance in Miami’s home opener. The Dolphins already were reeling after losing to lowly Jacksonville, and this defeat was less soothing.
New England will control the division, as they have since Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as the starter, but at least things look interesting. The Jets lost to the Eagles, who were winless in their first three games. Buffalo has six more games before playing the Patriots again. It appears they have established their identity.
The Bills played angry Sunday. They played hard. They embraced the bravado Ryan expected when he rolled into town. And they backed up the talk.