After seven long, football-less months, the NFL is officially back. The 2022 season kicked off last night at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. For the Bills it was with a bang, and for the Rams it was with a whimper.
The story of the first half, for both teams, was sloppy. Very sloppy. In the first half, the Bills saw three drives end prematurely due to turnovers: two Josh Allen interceptions (one coming from an Isaiah McKenzie drop), and one lost fumble from rookie running back James Cook. Despite early mistakes, the Bills were able to muster up 10 points in the first half, seven from the first drive of the game that ended in a beautifully schemed 26 yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis, which will probably be his easiest score all season. Tyler Bass also chipped in a 41 yard field goal to make the score 10-0. The Rams were able to overcome an early Matthew Stafford interception to score 10 points of their own to make it a tie game before halftime. After the Bills made it 10-0, the ensuing Tyler Bass kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Rams a short field to work with. Stafford led a short scoring drive that was capped off with a four yard toe-tap touchdown in the back corner of the endzone. The following Bills drive ended with the second of Josh Allen’s two interceptions on the night, and gave the Rams yet another short field to work with, and they were able to even up the score at 10 a piece with a 57 yard Matt Gay field goal to end the first half
The second half of this opening night was when things really started to go off the rails for the Rams. LA started things off with a three and out in their opening drive of the second half, and the defense did the offense no favors by letting Buffalo march down the field to go up 17-10 thanks to a quick seven yard pass from Josh Allen to Isaiah McKenzie. The Bills defense forced a punt again, and the Bills offense marched down and scored again this time a four yard run by Josh Allen. The following Rams drive ended, yet again, in disaster; this time via a Matthew Stafford interception by Jordan Poyer. The Bills didn’t take long to capitalize on that mistake, only taking three plays to score with a 53 yard connection from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs where Jalen Ramsey just looked lost. As if this game wasn’t already out of reach, Stafford throws the final of his three picks, a tip drill interception pulled down by second-year defensive end Boogie Basham. The Bills did follow up with a turnover of their own, a Zack Moss fumble, but the game was already out of reach so it didn’t really matter much. LA did march down the field, but a fourth down pass intended for Allen Robinson in the endzone fell to the ground, and with a couple of kneeldowns, the Bills were victorious in this one 31-10.
Takeaways: Wow, do the Bills look like THE team to beat. They got contributions from their top three receivers, with Diggs, Davis, and McKenzie all scoring. Jamison Crowder even chipped in on some possession downs. Buffalo also looked impressive with the running game. The offensive line was able to protect Josh Allen pretty well and open up some lanes for the run game. On the defensive side of the ball, wow. Opposing quarterbacks should be QUAKING looking at this pass rush. They got AFTER Matthew Stafford to the tune of seven sacks, and countless more pressures. They stifled LA’s running game, and the secondary played pretty lights out WITHOUT Tre White!! Yeah, this team is the early Super Bowl favorite, and they looked the part on opening night.
Rams?! What happened?? The Rams did NOT look like a team ready to defend a championship. They were letting their quarterback get smacked around, they couldn’t run the ball well at all, timing was off between quarterback and receivers, and the defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed. It’s time to use this long week to lick their wounds and come back firing next week, because they need to bounce back in a big way. Seriously, last night was BAD.
The Bills head home next week to play Tennessee on Monday Night Football, and the Rams stay in Los Angeles to play the Falcons at 4:05 on Sunday afternoon.