The defense has carried the Buffalo Bills through the early part of games this season.
The Bills have managed just two field goals in the first quarter, the lowest scoring output in the NFL. It hasn't mattered much, however, because the Buffalo defense has allowed only 19 first-quarter points.
The first quarter may matter a little more Sunday when the Oakland Raiders visit New Era Field.
Buffalo's offense could use a fast start to try to keep pace with a high-powered Oakland offense. And the Raiders' defense has given up 48 first-quarter points, the third most in the league.
Bills coach Sean McDermott was encouraged by the fact his offense opened last week's Tampa Bay win with a 69-yard drive to a field goal on its first possession.
"We looked at some things in the bye week," McDermott said. "One of the parts that I loved in the game was when we got our hands on the ball in the first quarter we came away with points, a field goal this past weekend. Then after half we were able to score out of the locker room the first series of the second half. I thought that was a positive step."
The Bills' offense has opened the last five games on the bench. Buffalo has won the toss every game since losing it in the season-opener, and each time McDermott has deferred the choice to the third quarter, sending the Bills' defense onto the field first.
NFL coaches defer the choice more than 80 percent of the time, partly due to a desire to get back-to-back scores at the end of the first half and start of the second.
Opening on defense has contributed to the fact the Bills have run the fourth fewest first-quarter offensive plays in the NFL. The Bills' defense has been on the field for the second most first-quarter plays in the league (16.5 a game), more than any D except San Francisco (18.1 plays a game).
Rookie cornerback Tre'Davious White was beaten for a long TD by Cincinnati star A.J. Green early in the game three weeks ago. Aside from that, the defense has yielded only four field goals in the first 15 minutes.
"I think Leslie and the staff do a good job, and they come out of the locker room ready to play," McDermott said of defensive chief Leslie Frazier. "They're doing a good job in creating field position for the offense. We have to continue with that."
The fact the Bills' offense hasn't scored much in the first quarter is no surprise given it is not an explosive attack in general. The Bills rank 25th in yards gained and 19th in points scored (19.8 a game).
The Oakland defense ranks tied for 17th overall in points allowed, at 22.3 a game.
Story topics: Sean McDermott