Orchard Park (WKBW) Raise your hand if you picked the Bills this week. You're lying. Not coming off that performance against the New York Jets. Not against the defending Super Bowl Champs. No way. On paper little favored the home team heading into Sunday. The young Bills didn't care and deserve a ton of credit.
"I'm proud of this team", said Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone after the 23-20 win over Baltimore on Sunday. "Here we are after the first quarter (of the season) and we are 2-and-2. Marrone continued.
A depleted Bills defense played a huge role on Sunday. The unit entered the game against the Ravens with three starters missing from the defensive secondary. Leodis McKelvin, Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd all missed the game against the Baltimore due to injury. Safety Aaron Williams was forced to start at cornerback but still the Bills made Joe Flacco's visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium a miserable experience.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP was picked off five times, sacked on four occasions and harassed throughout the day. The 5 interceptions were the 6th most in Bills club history. Flacco finished with 347 yards passing but the Bills were not gonna just sit back and him them pick them apart.
Aaron Williams finished with one of his finest games. He had two picks, four passes defended and finished with 2 tackles. And what can you say about rookie Kiko Alonso? With his two interceptions on Sunday Alonso became the first Bills rookie LB to have a 3-game interception streak. "I just go out and play" said Alonso post game. "I'm just trying to get better every single day and that's all I care about"
The Bills held the Ravens to only 24 yards rushing on 9 attempts and improved greatly on third down. The Bills limited Baltimore to conversions on only 3 of 16 third down opportunities. The Ravens abandoned the run game in the second half and at one point threw on 30 straight plays.
Offensively I was very impressed that the Bills were able to get the ground game going. Finding consistency in the running game was a constant theme throughout the week, but this was the Ravens. Baltimore entered the week boasting the leagues 4th ranked defense against the run giving up just over 74 yards a game. The Ravens hadn't given up a rushing TD all year. Still the Bills rolled up 203 yards on the them on Sunday. Both C.J. Spiller (77 yards) and Fred Jackson (87 yards and a touchdown) ran hard. Both were dinged up in the victory. Spiller left with an ankle injury. Jackson reportedly suffered a sprained MCL. We should learn more about their status for the Cleveland game on Monday.
Coming off a tough performance against the Jets I believe EJ Manuel did bounce back in some ways against the Ravens. His throw to Robert Woods on the 43 yard touchdown may have been the nicest completion of his young career. Manuel's stats won't jump off the page at you. He finished 10-of-22 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off twice and also lost a fumble. Still Manuel seemed more poised to me for the most part then he did against the Jets.
He seemed more comfortable in the pocket with the rush coming at him. The throw to Chandler on the sideline that was eventually ruled incomplete was as good as it gets. The throw to Woods that was ruled incomplete for what would have been a second touchdown was nice. Still he left several plays out there. He missed Stevie Johnson in the endzone in the first half. His second interception in the fourth quarter was on an under thrown ball to Woods."There are always things you can do better, but none the less we won the game today and that's the biggest thing. We want to be excited about that and look forward to Cleveland now", said Manuel postgame
In terms of Special Teams Dan Carpenter was 3-for-3 on FGs. He's 10-for-11 on the season. Also have to give credit to Marcus Easley who continues to excel in special teams. He finished with four tackles against the Ravens.