Under the now golden letters spelling out R-A-L-P-H C. W-I-L-S-O-N J-R on the Wall of Fame, the Buffalo Bills played a complete, three-phase effort that would’ve made the Golden Era owner proud.
Special teams, defense and offense all played a massive role as Edmund Jehosaphat Manuel and the Bills beat on the Miami Dolphins in front of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and a bevy of red, white and blue fans who barely sat down over three hours of winning football.
— The Bills were a slight-Sammy Watkins mistiming away from really starting the home season off on the right note. EJ Manuel hit Watkins in stride for what would’ve been a 50-yard touchdown pass, but Watkins had the ball slide through his hands, allowing Brent Grimes to knock it away as the rookie tried to regrip the ball. Would’ve been an epic moment as Manuel came out firing.
— Watkins, however, was the star of the show for a while and that TD grab would’ve made a good performance great. There’s no question his speed and size are incredible attributes, nor that I’m telling you things you already know.
His acrobatic touchdown dive to make it 22-10 (they added the XP later) put him over 100 yards on the day. He is most certainly the best No. 14 since Fitzmagic.
— Manuel was responsible for the second non-touchdown drive, as he underthrew Robert Woods on a quick slant near the goal line. But Buffalo had claimed an early 3-0 lead and Manuel was 4-of-7 for 62 yards. Not bad.
— Marrone successfully challenged a 22-yard completion from Manuel to Scott Chandler that was initially ruled as out-of-bounds. It looked the ball may have been moving in Chandler’s hands as he went down, but beggars won’t be choosers here. Buffalo could’t finish the drive with a touchdown and led 6-0.
— Corey Graham has been fantastic, and his shining moments on Sunday were many. A 2nd-and-11 end-zone break-up in the third quarter was perhaps his finest moment.
– Nigel Bradham… holy smoke! Between the Florida State backer and Florida’s Brandon Spikes, the Bills have two ‘headhunters’ on the squad.
– Speaking of Bradham, the Bills have really flipped the script on being the team to have 245 passes batted-down per contest.
— Miami went for it on 4th-and-3 from the 41 yard line and converted. Biggest problem? Dolphins tackle Ja’Wuan James was moving a full second before the play began but wasn’t called for a false start.
— Today was a day both special teams coach Danny Crossman and his good friend Doug Marrone can hang their hats on. First Boobie Dixon blocks a Brandon Fields punt to put the Bills in prime range to up their first-half lead, then CJ Spiller bursts down the right side of the field for a 102-yard kickoff return.
— Marrone received a lot of grief for using Spiller in the return game, but I don’t really understand that. I know players are going full-bore to nail the returner, but the returner also has almost unrivaled vision of what’s coming his way. He’s a weapon. Use him.
— Speaking of Spiller in the run game, the Bills back kept plugging away before ripping a 47-yard run off the right side in the late third quarter.
— I had the opportunity to interview Chris Berman and Jim Kelly on Friday evening before the Bills saluted Ralph Wilson’s life at Shea’s in Buffalo, and it was fairly emotional. But to see Kelly get a long ovation from Bills fans before kickoff on Sunday, seemingly choking back his emotion, was a special moment. What a great day for the region.
Three things I liked…
1. Special teams
2. Corey Graham
3. Nigel Bradham
Three things that troubled me…
1. Linebackers in the coverage game
2. Lee Smith taking a penalty while inactive
3. I don’t know… the referee’s mic not working properly?
– Baller status: achieved.
— Go Bills.
Home to San Diego
– This is hard to do, you know, be optimistic and all, but I believe it works with realism. San Diego is coming across the country and the Bills defense has been sound. It’ll be a close one, but could 3-0 be coming? Really? Buffalo, 27-24.