The first one always feels the best.
Buffalo put their first mark in the win column on Sunday as they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by 13 on a day that celebrated the 50-year history of the team. After this win, many fans feel that the Bills now have one and a half wins, but the all-around effort against the NFC South squad gave the city of Buffalo temporary amnesia from Monday's heartbreaking loss against the New England Patriots.
Amnesia is a characteristic of the elderly, but this youthful Bills team is playing well beyond their years. The offensive line is essentially anchored with the characters from Nickelodeon. Three of the five starters are under the age of 25. Despite the ages on the "Fountain of Youth" — my subsequent name for the offensive line — Buffalo's offense is rolling right along. Fred Jackson had 188 total yards on the day, Trent Edwards had a 98 passer rating, 68% of his passes completed, topped off with two touchdowns. The Lennon-McCartney combination of Lee Evans and Owens contributed one touchdown apiece, both of which were 30+ yards deep.
On the defensive side, Donte Whitner had a kick return-like interception return, giving the Bills their second straight game with a defensive touchdown.
The run defense is proving to be one of the iron curtains of the NFL. The front seven surrendered only 57 yards on the ground, building upon last week's 73 rushing yards against. Considering Tampa Bay's grind-it-out style, with three premier backs, this was extremely encouraging.
Compared to last year, Buffalo's pass defense has gotten exponentially better. In defending this point, I will provide a word of warning: do not look in the box score.
Despite Buccaneers quarterback Byron Leftwich throwing for just shy of 300 yards and three touchdowns, he was sacked twice as well as picked twice. The Bills had 12 quarterback hits, many of them unforgiving, and Leftwich was on the ground like snow in January, The slogan of the defense, "bend but don't break," sounds crazy, but is more logical than if P then Q.
With Drew Brees and the slinging Saints coming into Ralph Wilson Stadium next week, the Bills are going to have to buck up on defense and stay consistent on offense. New Orleans is going to move the ball, of course. But Buffalo will need to somehow slow them down.