While the Buffalo Bills came up short in Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, the loss cannot be pinned on Buffalo’s defense, especially the pass rushers. Led by a resurgent Jerry Hughes, the Bills (1-1) brought down Cam Newton six times Sunday afternoon, and that total could have been more as Buffalo enjoyed a dominant performance out of its talented front seven.
Hughes, who looks like the dominant pass rusher who posted double-digit sack totals in 2013 and 2014, posted a pair of sacks as Buffalo’s defensive line was able to have its way with the Panthers’ offensive line.
“We felt good about our match ups up front and getting pressure on the quarterback, doing some things coverage-wise,” head coach Sean McDermott said. “I thought the pressure was there and that works together with the coverage so it was good complimentary football.”
For the second straight game, Jordan Poyer blitzed from the safety position and brought down Newton for a seven-yard loss, while Lorenzo Alexander, Shaq Lawson, and Eddie Yarbrough also sacked Newton.
The Bills six sacks led to a loss of 50 yards. It was Buffalo’s highest sack total since recording seven sacks during a 38-3 win over the New York Jets Nov. 24, 2014.
It was the most sacks of Newton, the former NFL MVP, since the Minnesota Vikings sacked Newton eight times during a 22-10 loss on Sept. 25, 2016.
“Sean McDermott has an unbelievable defense – very stout up front. Guys in the secondary that can make plays and will make plays,” Newton said in the postgame press conference. “Hell, you’ve got guys in the secondary that were with us all last year, so anytime you’re with a person multiple years, six years to be exact, he knows things that can ruffle the line’s feathers.”
Trailing 3-0 heading into the second quarter, the Panthers drove to the Buffalo 22-yard-line, but back-to-back sacks from Hughes and Yarbrough pushed Carolina out of field goal range.
Late in the third, trailing 6-0, Buffalo’s defense forced a punt after Poyer and Hughes came up with back-to-back sacks. Despite the valiant effort by the front four, the Bills were unable to pull off the upset of the Panthers and fell to .500 on the season.
Through two games, the Bills are tied for sixth in the NFL with seven sacks.