Parrish, special teams dominant in W (Photo Source)
Permission to be excited? Granted. The Buffalo Bills are 1-0 after dominating the field in all three phases in a 34-10 opening day victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Buffalo set the tone early and used several big plays, particularly two made by the team's NFL-best special teams unit, to blow the game open in the third quarter. A 64-yard touchdown punt return by Roscoe Parrish gave the Bills a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, and the Bills held a 20-7 lead at the half.
A second special teams score - this time a 19-yard touchdown pass from punter Brian Moorman to defensive end Ryan Denney - put the game completely in Buffalo's control, and a forced fumble on the ensuing kickoff allowed Buffalo's offense - via a touchdown strike from Trent Edwards to Robert Royal - sealed the deal.
Defense beats up on banged up Seahawks O
Without a shred of doubt, however, Buffalo's most impressive unit was its defense. Facing a banged up, yet still dangerous Seahawks offense, Buffalo surrendered just 252 net yards, and their pass rush kept Seattle's offensive attack off balance all day. Matt Hasselbeck - one of the smartest and most productive quarterbacks in the NFL - was horribly ineffective facing said pass rush, completing just 41% of his passes en route to a five-sack performance in which his QB rating was a paltry 53.9.
Marcus Stroud proved to be the difference-maker that the front office envisioned him as in this matchup. Routinely overpowering Seattle's interior lineman, Stroud recorded three tackles, three assists and a half a sack, and anchored a run defense that gave up some longer runs but ultimately left Seattle largely one-dimensional.
Buffalo's pass rush was successful thanks to a nice variety of blitz packages installed by defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. The team's two best linebackers, Kawika Mitchell and Paul Posluszny, were particularly excellent in this area, and both have proven to be explosive playmakers near the line of scrimmage. This trio, along with a tough, hard-hitting secondary, led the attack for what looked like a potentially excellent Bills defense.
Offense Efficient, but room to grow
Buffalo's offense got off to a slow start with four straight punts, but their attack was largely effective as the weather cleared up. Trent Edwards outdueled Hasselbeck, completing 19 of 30 passes for 215 yards, a score and after taking just one sack. After taking just 16 pre-season snaps, Edwards proved why he's the right quarterback for Buffalo: he's smart and handles situations particularly well. He's got to get better, but play like that is enough to be getting on with for the time being.
Despite generally poor run blocking, Marshawn Lynch was effective, gaining 76 yards on 18 carries and opening the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. As inconsistent as the run blocking was, the pass protection was excellent; Buffalo did a great job keeping Edwards' jersey clean against what is, in reality, a ferocious Seahawks pass rush. That should only get better once the team incorporates Jason Peters back into its lineup.
We only give out game balls around these parts after wins; since the Bills won so thoroughly this afternoon, we'll give out four, as opposed to our usual three. Game balls to...
Roscoe Parrish - I don't want to hear any more about Devin Hester, because he's clearly not the best punt returner in the NFL. Parrish is clearly his equal. His touchdown return was poetry in motion, and though it's sometimes a bit scary to watch him return, he's clearly a sparkplug for this team.
Langston Walker - Buffalo's entire offensive line did a great job pass blocking, but Walker in particular was excellent. Assigned to stop speed rusher Darryl Tapp all day, Walker didn't allow Tapp to make a peep of impact in this game.
Marcus Stroud - Clearly this team's MVP after one game. The man's hand punch is ridiculous, and he's unblockable at times, even when there are two guys into him. If Buffalo is able to sustain its early defensive success, Stroud will obviously be at the center of the action.
Kawika Mitchell - He struggles a bit in space, but he is an outstanding blitzer, and it showed today. Plugging him into the defensive lineup is nearly as important as plugging Stroud in, and to boot, Mitchell is an excellent leader. He played great.
Props to the 25 folks - including some classy Seahawks fans - who stopped by today's open game thread. Y'all kept the place hopping while I was away, and it's appreciated. Congrats to Kurupt, who as usual commented more than anyone. The roll call...
StuckInNJ, Kurupt, silverstreak3k, katal, Christian, Cinga, RabidBuffalo, jdol1568, Zumone, jri111, patamunzo, Memphisbillsfan, fletcherjd, Ron From NM, redwolf75, NJBillsfan, keuka121, Joe P., killascript, Hopefulcynic, BearsNecessity, acarj84, The Buffalonian, MARVelous, John Morgan
Plenty to be excited about after this one, folks. Let's discuss this more and more in the comments section.