Arguably the best player on the Buffalo Bills' offense was a non-factor in Sunday's season-opening 27-14 win. Sammy Watkins wasn't targeted until the fourth quarter and had zero receptions for the first time in his young career.
It didn't matter, of course. Percy Harvin was the featured receiver in Buffalo's run-heavy plan with five receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Rex Ryan didn't sound the alarm on Monday, saying that sometimes this is going to happen.
The Bills didn't want to take shots downfield in this game.
"You know quite honestly we were trying to play keep away a little bit from Indianapolis," Ryan said, "and you know had some more underneath throws and things like that. I will say this he was open a couple times, but the protection broke down once or we would have had a 60- or 70-yard touchdown. A guy whiffs on protection and we can’t make the throw down the field.
"Is it rare that Sammy is going to go without a catch? Yeah, that will probably happen once this season. Our thing is our focus is trying to win the game, whatever the means, however we can do that, to give ourselves the best chance that is what we are going to do."
So even though Watkins made a habit of hauling down catches deep through training camp, the Bills aren't going to force the issue. After sticking to one side of the field most of his career, Vontae Davis shadowed Watkins all game and eliminated Buffalo's No. 1 receiver.
Other times, such as Harvin's 51-yard touchdown, Watkins drew multiple defenders.
"I had double coverage so when I knew we had double go’s I said, ‘Yeah, he’s getting the ball,'" Watkins said after the game, "and I kind of knew he was going to beat his defender because he can fly."
As for LeSean McCoy's lackluster debut? Ryan isn't concerned about that, either. McCoy had only 41 yards on 17 carries, as rookie Karlos Williams shined.
"I could tell you this," Ryan said. "They know where he is at, they know where Sammy is at. But we will get going. Let’s not judge them on one game.
"Look at our backs. We have two horses back there. We've got the thoroughbred, and we got the Clydesdale, and we got the in-between guy, but we have some studs back there. Every now and then you’re just going to go, go ahead rook get in there. Slam it on in there, and that is what he does. He is a big physical guy who runs behind his pads."
Williams scored on his first carry, finishing with 55 yards on six attempts.