There was some objection on Twitter over whether it was fair to say Stephen Hauschka had gotten off to a shaky in his first two weeks of the season.
Hauschka went 1 for 2 against the Jets and Panthers, banking in his make against Carolina in Week Two.
After Sunday, however, there should be no more “shaky” talk. Hauschka drilled all four of his field goals in the Buffalo Bills’ 26-16 victory over the Denver Broncos at New Era Field.
“It feels awesome. A lot of hard work goes in, starting at the beginning of the offseason,” he said. “It was a big transition for me to come across the country with my family and come here to Buffalo. … It’s rewarding to see some success from all the hard work put in.”
Hauschka was good from 49, 55, 53 and 27 yards, all toward the scoreboard end of New Era Field. He became the first kicker in team history to hit two field goals of at least 53 yards in the same game.
“Kicking is about rhythm,” he said. “I just feel more and more comfortable each game I'm here, learning this stadium, learning the winds.”
Hauschka said his range toward the scoreboard end was 58 yards, while he could have tried one from as far as 64 yards out toward the tunnel end.
“The ball was flying well,” he said. “It was about 80 degrees, which it’s like this a lot in Buffalo, right? It’s like this in December, right?”
Speaking of the weather, the game-time temperature of 83 degrees was the first time since 2002 that it was at least 80 degrees for a home kickoff and just the ninth time since 1967, when the temperature became part of the game book.
Hauschka has made 87.11 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career, a success rate that is fourth in league history.
“I was feeling good mentally and physically,” he said. It was “just nice for things to come together.”
After making it through the first two weeks remarkably healthy, the Bills were without a pair of key starters Sunday. Left tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus both missed the game because of ankle injuries suffered in Week Two against Carolina.
Other inactives for the Bills were running back Joe Banyard, defensive tackle Deandre Coleman, guard Vlad Ducasse, tight end Khari Lee and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (concussion). The Bills started rookie Dion Dawkins at left tackle and Cedric Thornton in Dareus' place at defensive tackle. The analytics website Pro Football Focus charged Dawkins with two pressures allowed, including a sack. Thornton had a pair of tackles, as did Adolphus Washington, in place of Dareus.
The only known injury for the Bills during the game was suffered by cornerback E.J. Gaines, but the team didn't even make an announcement on what he hurt. He was also able to return to the field, and had an interception in the second half.
Running back LeSean McCoy had seven catches for 48 yards, in the process becoming just the third active running back to have 400 career receptions and 9,000 rushing yards (Frank Gore and Matt Forte are the others).
Despite that, it was another down game for McCoy in his primary role as running back, as he was held to just 21 yards on 14 carries.
"The last two years we've been the top running offense, but then teams come in here just to stop me," McCoy said. "it's something I have to deal with. I'm not going to complain or pout. I could be angry about it, which I am, but I guess I've got to be better."
The difference for the Bills from Week Two to Week Three is that the passing game picked up the running game.
"If you have to sacrifice the run game to get guys open down field and they want to stack the box, we've got to find ways to win," McCoy said. "If I've got to make plays in the air, I mean, I've got to do something to be valuable. Or if I had to be a decoy, I guess I've just got to learn how to do that better. Whatever it is, I'm down to win.
"If we've got to win like that, I'll bet my last dollar, and you know I'm a betting man."
Broncos rookie quarterback Chad Kelly, the St. Joe's graduate and nephew of Bills Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, was on the field before the game. Kelly is spending his rookie season on injured reserve as he recovers from surgeries on his right wrist and ACL.