The team had been talking about since the end of last season, the need to get off to a fast start. They even had t-shirts printed up so they wouldn't forget. They certainly remembered the horrors of last season's start and were ready not to repeat it. That led to a dominating opening day win over Houston 22-7 before a sun drenched crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The game plan was suppose to be a conservative ball control run first offense with a suffocating defense and solid special teams. Coach Mularkey always has something up his sleeve and they came out with a wide open spread formation offense that surprised the Texans' D. The new look offense generated five scoring drives in their first five possessions. The only down side to the debut of J.P. Losman was that the first four were field goals before they finally crossed the goal line with just :29 to go before halftime. Losman threw his first NFL touchdown pass, a one yarder to tackle eligible Jason Peters to give the Bills a 19-7 halftime lead.
While Losman moved the ball very effectively in the first half, the hero on offense was the much maligned Rian Lindell, he silenced critics by going five for five on field goals, tying a personal record. His accuracy allowed the Bills to build a decent lead without scoring touchdowns. The one offensive touchdown was a nice answer to the Texans only score of the day, a one yard scamper by David Carr that momentarily gave the Texans life in the game in the second quarter. It even looked like the Bills may have held on that drive as it questionable whether or not Carr got in the end zone on his fourth down scramble. The Bills couldn't challenge it because they were out of timeouts.
The lone score was the only minor blemish on a defense that really looks to show that it has improved from last year's second ranked unit. The Texans were held to a paltry 120 yards in total offense, 75 of them coming on their lone scoring drive. The defense forced five turnovers, while the offense never turned the ball over, they never even fumbled the ball. The defense also added five sacks to their dominating performance. The way they were playing, scoring field goals instead of touchdowns, weren't a concern as it was obvious the defense wasn't about to let this game get away.
The offense kept up their end of the bargain, Losman didn't get happy feet, didn't hold the ball to long or pat it, and was an effective 17 of 28 for 170 and a rating of 89.9. The open passing attack early, opened up running room for Willis McGahee as he gained a rather quiet 117 yards on 22 carries, a solid workmanlike effort the team will take every week from him.
It was a very encouraging first effort, the defense may reach the elite status they are shooting for, the offense played mistake free football while moving the chains and scoring points. You don't want to get too excited from one game but it is hard not to with the way they played. Just remember in the NFL things can turn on a dime. A great example of that was the first play from scrimmage, Losman hit Josh Reed on an out pattern for six yards. It was just a split second away from being an interceptions return for a touchdown. How would that have changed the game? They say baseball is a game of inches, but in the NFL it can changed rapidly. The Bills feel this is just one step in the process, they have a chance to prove it against a tougher opponent on the road in Tampa Bay next week.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills dominating win to open the season as you can imagine, it is very one sided: