Hello, darkness, my old friennnnd ...
Buffalo Bills fans had aspirations of getting into Guinness’ World Records for the loudest crowd Sunday while watching their revamped team brain the New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick said Tuesday that Bills fans would “be as loud as we allow them to be.”
The Bills’ official Twitter account replied, “That’s cute.”
The sound of silence was noticeable come Sunday. Bills fans didn’t come close to setting the decibel mark, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady broke a 54-year-old record for passing yards against the Bills in a 40-32 shushing.
For a defense with grand plans to be the NFL’s best, giving up 40 points and letting Brady break a George Blanda record doesn’t look too cute at all. Brady threw for 466 yards, the second-highest output of his Hall of Fame career.
Here’s how bad it got:
In the third quarter, after the Bills’ sideline was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct – one play after Sammy Watkins was called for pass interference – Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler waved his arms in the air.
A Patriots player was imploring the crowd to get louder.
Rob Gronkowski is an above-average football player. The Amherst native caught seven passes for a game-high 113 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s great coming back home,” Gronk said. “It’s great going on the road and having a big atmosphere. Buffalo was 1-0. They were hot at the moment.
“It was great to come in, especially getting them quiet out there, which is always good.”
Gronk’s statistical average at The Ralph: seven receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills’ first drive was beautiful. They went 80 yards on 10 plays and were so efficient they had to convert just one third down.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran four times for 31 yards, more than a third of his total rushing output. Tyrod Taylor completed two of his three passes for 22 yards and scrambled for 23 more. Karlos Williams finished off the series with an easy 2-yard touchdown run.
The Bills’ defense then held the Patriots to a three-and-out opening series, and, “Whoa, here comes the slaughter!”
The Patriots from there outscored the Bills, 37-6, into the fourth quarter and notched three touchdowns in a 12-play span.
Big if true
Ryan claimed throughout the week he didn’t know the name of New England’s starting tailback.
Dion Lewis introduced himself. The fourth-year pro ran seven times for 40 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 98 yards. On consecutive snaps, Lewis had a 40-yard reception and a 12-yard run to set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.
Ryan, asked by our Jay Skurski if he regretted tweaking Lewis, pretty much groaned in disbelief.
“Yeah, that’s the reason we lost,” Ryan replied. “Go ahead.
“I still don’t know his name. Next time, run the ball.”
Well, Lewis did have a 5.7-yard rushing average and a game-high 138 yards from scrimmage.
Before halftime, Bills fans started tweeting at Buffalo News reporters that it was time to bench Taylor and put EJ Manuel in the game.
Taylor came crashing back to earth after a sensational Bills debut. He threw only seven incomplete passes, but three of them were interceptions. He ran five times for 43 yards and a touchdown, but fumbled twice.
New England sacked Taylor eight times. Buffalo has allowed more than eight sacks only 10 times in club history.
For the record, Manuel was a healthy scratch and unavailable to play.
Buffalo’s defensive line ran onto the field as a quartet to punctuate pregame introductions. Marcell Dareus returned from his one-game suspension. Brady was supposed to be supine all afternoon.
Ryan preferred to keep as many defenders in coverage as possible in hopes his studded front four could generate enough pressure on their own. Brady tried to pass 61 times, but the Bills registered five quarterback hits. Mario Williams sacked Brady once, and Jerry Hughes got him once.
As scoreboard and Brady’s stat line would suggest, the Bills didn’t irritate him nearly enough.
Typical Obama, meddling with the Bills’ special teams.
How else to explain six special-teams penalties in the first quarter alone (five accepted for 49 yards), a missed Dan Carpenter extra point, poor punting, weak punt coverage and kickoff specialist Jordan Gay’s unrecoverable onside kick that featured THREE Bills penalties?
Ralph Wilson Stadium gets this week’s #mute. Yelling for the record was ambitious to begin with. Even if the Bills had beaten the Patriots, the types of stadiums best suited for noise records are shaped like tacos (Arrowhead Stadium, CenturyLink Field). The Ralph also holds almost 9,000 fewer people than Arrowhead.
At Ryan’s introductory news conference, he declared “There’s no doubt that we’re going to be aggressive” when it came to fourth downs. That would be a progressive shift from his predecessor, Doug Marrone.
“Will we go for it on fourth down?” Ryan said. “Will we do those types of things? Will we fake a punt when leading by three with three minutes left to go in the game on a fourth and 13?
“Yes. The answer is, ‘Yes, we will.’ ”
So on fourth and 3 from New England’s 41-yard line and down 14 points in the second quarter, Ryan punted. Colton Schmidt lofted it to the 12-yard line.
New England turned it over on downs, when Brady overthrew an open Julian Edelman on fourth and 1 from the Pats’ 48-yard line.
We good here?
Based on the Bills’ bravado over the past week, they probably deserved to get knocked down a peg. They clearly were unfocused.
“They way the game unfolded in the first half is literally the blueprint for how they beat you,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “Your communication is poor, your composure is bad and we let it get away from us.”
The fact that this ugly performance happened in Week Two could be a blessing. The Bills, particularly the offense, has so many new players. It’s OK that they’re still discovering an identity and how to be comfortable within it.
On opening day, 92 percent of Buffalo’s offense was generated by players who weren’t on the roster last year. Against New England, 100 percent of Buffalo’s rushing offense and 62 percent of its total offense were from new people.
So Sunday was a humbling defeat, but a single defeat. Deep breaths.