Worst opening day ever

The Bills lay dozens of eggs in Baltimore

Howard Simon
September 09, 2018 - 6:49 pm

Photo: Tommy Gilligan - USA TODAY Sports


There have been some really depressing, punch to the gut season openers for the Buffalo Bills. Leodis McKelvin, Chad Morton, Ernest Wilford and Jason Elam come to mind just to name a few. But those were parties compared to what happened to the Bills in Baltimore.

This is a new low.

It's just one game into the season and, yet, I felt so beaten down, it was as if they had just completed an 0-16 season. When Baltimore went up 40-0 and I looked at the screen and saw there was still 11:22 left in the third quarter, I felt like crying.

We knew the Bills offense was loaded with questions and bereft of top end talent but woof! I didn’t expect to see, perhaps, the worst half of football I’ve witnessed from any Bills team in the nearly 30 years I’ve watched them. I still can’t believe they went an entire half without getting a single first down. It was the first time a Bills team managed to produce that dubious stat since 2001. They ran 23 plays over eight possessions and totaled just 33 yards.

The offensive line wasn’t opening holes so there was no running game to speak of. The receivers were having a hard time getting open and when one occasionally did, Nathan Peterman couldn’t manage to make a good enough throw for a completion. The offense never got the ball beyond its own 30-yard line on its own power. They started at the Ravens' 34-yard line after a fumble recovery by the defense, and on another drive they started at their own 45 after a big kick return from Marcus Murphy.  

While the offense was worse than anyone could have imagined, the defense couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain either. They were shredded by Joe Flacco, who many were wondering how long he might be able to hold off rookie first round draft pick Lamar Jackson. Flacco carved up the Bills' pass defense, effectively using the middle of the field, getting the ball to uncovered tight ends and doing it on a day when the Baltimore run game did nothing special. The defense didn’t get much of a pass rush and there were a handful of breakdowns in coverage. 

I honestly think by halftime, they were a deflated bunch. The offense was so bad it sucked the life out of everybody.

As bad as the offense was, I fully anticipated Peterman was going to start the second half. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure Sean McDermott would get to the point where he’d put Josh Allen in the game, but he did when it was 40-0. Allen didn’t do much better than Peterman, but he made a handful of nice throws, used his legs to run for a couple of first downs and should have had a touchdown pass if Kelvin Benjamin didn’t drop a ball that hit him in the chest.

Peterman ended up 5-of-18 for 24 yards with two interceptions and three sacks. His quarterback rating was zero. Allen was 6-of-15 for 74 yards with three sacks.

After the game, McDermott was asked about his quarterback plan for game No. 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bills head coach said he’d have to look at the tape and would evaluate everything. 

I didn’t think we’d see Allen that quickly, barring an injury. I didn’t think Allen would have a chance of starting until Week 5 at the earliest. At this point, there’s no reason to play Peterman. If this game is any indication of how this season is going to go, you might as well get Allen in there and let him get some experience.  

But keep in mind that on the CBS telecast, Steve Tasker said this was earlier than the Bills wanted Allen to play. Tasker said the Bills don’t believe Allen is ready to start yet. If that is the case, Peterman may end up getting his second career start against the Chargers. The Bills might also think this isn’t a good time to put Allen in there since, arguably, the toughest part of the schedule coming up in the next three games. Perhaps Peterman will essentially be a sacrificial lamb while the offense goes through in-game growing pains.

Far be it for me to leave you with nothing but sad and depressing thoughts from the opener. In case you’d like to know if anyone had any good moments in the game, rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a handful of good plays in the second quarter, including a forced fumble. Fellow linebacker Matt Milano was in the backfield a few times on run plays. Marcus Murphy had 165 kick return yards, including a 49-yard return. Also, Corey Bojorquez showed a nice leg in his NFL punting debut with an average of 49 yards and a net of 42. Of course he did fumble a clean snap which led to a Ravens touchdown.

I’m not usually a doom and gloom guy, especially after just one game, but this was so awful it made me wonder if this is what it felt like in the mid 80’s when Bills fans were suffering through 2-14 seasons. If the national media talks about the Bills at all this week, their discussion will be whether or not this Bills team will go 0-16. This game was that bad!

Hey, that Rasmus Dahlin guy looked pretty good on Friday, right?

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