Preseason game No. 1 is in the books, and it was a 24-16 win for the Buffalo Bills over the Indianapolis Colts at New Era Field.
That means it's time for some Arrows to start pointing.
The rookie was extremely noticeable on defense. He used his length and athleticism to record three tackles, including one for a loss, a sack for an eight-yard loss, and a big bat-down of a pass. The position is starting to get a bit crowded, and Johnson made a huge case for himself in this game.
Lawson is going into the final year of his contract and played right away like a man who wants to have a big year and get paid. He was in the Colts' backfield twice on the first series, causing problems for them, and did a great job of setting the edge against the run.
Three Arrows Up for three defensive ends. Yarbrough isn't giving up his spot that easy. The third-year end came away with two tackles, one for a loss, a sack, and two QB hurries.
With E.J. Gaines out with a groin injury, the sixth cornerback spot is up for grabs and Pitts made the first strong case for it with two terrific pass breakups, including one in the end zone to prevent a touchdown.
What an incredible moment. Wade, the converted English rugby star, took his first-ever NFL touch 65 yards for a touchdown, cutting back and then pulling away. The bench almost cleared for him as his teammates showed how much they respect the work he’s put in and loved seeing him be rewarded. That was the only carry Wade had in the game, so he officially ended with a 65-yard per-carry average.
Phillips rolled over his strong training camp into the first preseason game with a very nice play in the corner of the end zone to get free and then two feet down for the team's first touchdown.
Forget the stats. Singletary had only 27 yards on nine carries. The rookie looked every bit like an NFL running back and then some, displaying the vision and balance he showed while at Florida Atlantic. The third round draft pick consistently picked up yards after it seemed like there was nothing to be gained. He also led the team with three catches, which went for 21 yards, totaling 48 yards of total offense.
McKenzie grabbed a huge opportunity and showed why he can be so valuable, leading the team with 62 receiving yards (on two catches) and returning three punts for 25 yards, for 87 all-purpose yards. He’s fighting for a roster spot and definitely still in the mix.
Whether it was the starters or the players who came in right after them, whoever was on the field in the first half for the Bills defense deserves a big Arrow Up. They were terrific, holding the Colts to 85 total yards. In fact, up until the final two minutes of the half, Indianapolis had a total of 29 yards and one first down on six drives.
The Colts finished only 4-for-16 on third downs (25%), but they started the game 1-for-11 and only started converting when the teams had mostly third-string players in the game.
Jones had two grabs for 31 yards, but it was the ones he didn’t make that stood out. First, a low-thrown ball on third down that was tough, but catchable, then a pass over the middle in the red zone that he may have scored on if he had held on. It looked like he peeked at the defender about to hit him too soon. He got hit, anyway, and was forced to leave the game for evaluation of a head injury. He came back and was cleared.
Sweeney has been turning heads in a positive way at camp since the injury to Dawson Knox, mostly because of how great of hands he’s shown. However, he dropped a ball he should have had on his only target of the night.
Foster hasn’t yet played nearly to the level he did the latter part of last season when he was the team’s best receiver. He almost came up with a terrific catch down the sidelines, but it hit the ground just before he could, but also dropped another over the middle. He was targeted four times and came away with one reception.
Let’s hope Haushcka’s struggles last year aren’t already starting again because he missed his first kick of the preseason, a very makeable 34-yard attempt that hit the left upright.
Despite Mitch Morse still being in concussion protocol, Bodine didn’t even start the game, which may be an indication of where he is right now as far as roster consideration. Jon Feliciano started. Bodine also had a horrible snap that couldn’t be brought in by quarterback Matt Barkley and resulted in a turnover at their own 40-yard line.
Yeldon is fighting to make the roster. He had two carries, and both were given once they got into the red zone. He’s the team’s biggest back and that may be a role he can serve. But it can’t happen if he can’t hold on to the football, which he didn’t do in one of those two carries, resulting in a fumble and turnover.
Indianapolis racked up 229 yards in the second half. That’s a far cry from the 85 total they had in the first half, and far too many, backups or not.
Every team is going to be a little rusty the first time out, but seven penalties is too many to have.
THE BIG PICTURE:
My big takeaway from this first game: the Bills defense is very good. Very, very good. Talented and deep. They just keep coming at you with good players at every position. Granted, Andrew Luck didn’t play, but to hold any team to 85 yards in one half of an NFL game is a great job. Add to it that Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Taron Johnson, and Micah Hyde didn’t even play and it’s really impressive. They are going to be really tough to play against.
On offense, Josh Allen did what he’s been working a lot on this offseason - stay in the pocket, go through reads, and take the dump-off when needed instead of running out of trouble so quickly. It was a good - not great, not bad - outing for the second-year quarterback. The running back situation was already crowded and complicated, but it may be even moreso after Singletary showed he can do many of the same things he did in college that made him so exciting and a third round pick, and Senorise Perry took advantage of his limited touches with a touchdown.
It was good to get the first one of these out of the way and know football is back.
Now the real evaluations begin with two practices down in South Carolina with and against the Carolina Panthers, and then three more preseason games.