Standing at his locker, Nigel Bradham looked down at his tattooed right hand. With gloves on the whole game, the linebacker had no clue how this even happened.
The red blood pooled between his pinkie and ring finger. It wasn't until well after this 27-14 beating, he realized this.
“In the shower," said Bradham, laughing. “I’m like, ‘Where’s that blood coming from?’ Yeah, it’s gross, man. Gross.”
This Bills defense played with an attitude on Sunday... wherever you looked.
Bradham sacking Luck in the second quarter and pretending to use a shovel afterward. Safety Bacarri Rambo body-slamming Donte Moncrief. Linebacker Preston Brown drilling Frank Gore at the line of scrimmage for no gain. Cornerback Ron Brooks lighting up Phillip Dorsett on a punt return, that could've made that rookie skittish on his crucial muff later. The Bills already had a strong defense, one that stymied the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning in 2014. But this day, vs. Luck's Colts, they brought the pain, the violence with numerous big hits.
That's by design, too. That's what Rex Ryan is preaching.
“You’ve got to play with an attitude," safety Aaron Williams said. "To me, and my mind-set, I think we’re messed up people. How many people do you know allow each other to beat each other up for 60 minutes and then be cool? Go off the field and say ‘Great job.’ Usually when you see that happen, they don’t like each other. So I just need him to stay focused and we all need to keep each other accountable.”
So the Bills will have big hits on the mind.
“Rex wants us to create a bully," Williams said. "So we’re going to want guys out there who want to smack something. That’s our attitude.”
What's probably most encouraging is that it didn't come from one or two sources throughout the game. Brown, the inside linebacker, took it to the 32-year-old Gore just as Rambo, a back-up replacement at free safety, was head-hunting. It's a fine line in today's game. Flags and fines fly freely these days.
Still, Rambo makes no bones about it. He wants to draw first blood.
“I just try to go out and let them feel my presence," said Rambo, the one who picked off Rodgers twice last year. "That’s all I try to do. I don’t think of anything. I want to them to feel my presence so they know 30 is going to hit you. If you catch that ball, you’re going to get popped.”
Now, Ryan is set to face his old nemesis: Tom Brady. To truly build this bully, the Bills will need to slay the longtime kings of the AFC East. They'll need drop the hammer on the likes of Brady and Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
So count on coaches replaying these highlights in the film room. This is the attitude, the swagger Ryan wants to become contagious with his defense. Schematically, they flummoxed Andrew Luck. Physically, they pummeled the Colts. After all the tough talk, the Bills backed it up in the opener.
Asked what his defense proved, Bradham keeps it big picture. He's been around here for four years now and knows this is a long, long season.
“Obviously, we have to keep winning games and that’s the way we have to prove to the league," Bradham said. "We definitely want to show that we’re going to be a hard team to beat. So we have to keep executing every week. Coaches are going to give us a great game plan. We have to keep continuing to get wins.”
At least in this one, however, the Bills made a statement.
Said Rambo, “If they were watching, we should’ve. We’re going to fly around. We’re going to hit."