Bills lose 13-7 to Ravens in season opener
The Baltimore Ravens used a touchdown pass by Joe Flacco, two field goals and a throwback defensive performance to beat the Buffalo Bills 13-7 on Sunday in their season opener. Buffalo's home opener is on Thursday evening.
Against former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, now Buffalo's head coach, the Ravens limited the Bills to 160 yards and sacked former teammate Tyrod Taylor twice. That's how Baltimore played defense under Ryan from 1999-2008, and that's how it won the 2012 Super Bowl.
Returning from a knee injury that ended his season last November, Flacco went 23 for 34 for 258 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Mike Wallace in the second quarter that put the Ravens ahead for good. That, plus field goals of 50 and 37 yards by Justin Tucker, was enough for Baltimore's first season-opening victory since 2012.
Taylor used his quickness to avoid a ferocious pass rush, but he did not have much success passing downfield. He was 15 of 22 for only 111 yards and ran five times for 11 yards.
Baltimore took a 10-0 lead when Wallace got behind Stephon Gilmore, took a pass in stride and pulled away for the 66-yard touchdown. Signed as a free agent to enhance an offense that last year lacked a deep threat, Wallace hadn't been part of a play that long since 2012 with Pittsburgh.
Buffalo used the elusiveness of Taylor in the pocket to close to 10-7 before halftime. After wriggling from the grasp of Albert McClellan and sidestepping Terrell Suggs, Taylor completed a 33-yard pass to Charles Clay, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy on fourth down.
The Bills missed a chance to pull even when Dan Carpenter was wide right on a 49-yard field goal try midway through the third quarter.
ROOKIE BLUNDER & THUNDER: In his first NFL game, Ravens top draft pick left tackle Ronnie Stanley jumped offside on third-and-1 early in the first quarter. On Baltimore's next possession, the team's top pick in 2015, Breshad Perriman, made his first NFL reception with a leaping grab at the sideline for a 35-yard gain. Perriman missed the entire 2015 season with a knee injury.
WHERE'S WATKINS?: One reason Taylor was so successful last year was he utilized Sammy Watkins as a deep threat. Watkins was practically invisible during the first half, making only two short receptions for a total of 13 yards. Watkins finished with four catches for 43 yards.
SMITH & SUGGS RETURN: Ravens receiver Steve Smith and Suggs returned to regular-season action after having their 2015 season cut short by torn Achilles tendons. Smith caught five passes for 19 yards and stands 53 yards short of passing James Lofton for 10th place on the career list. Suggs had a sack.
NO HAPPY RETURNS: Devin Hester made his debut with the Ravens and had very few chances to show his skill as one of the great kick returners in NFL history. He took back two kickoffs for 18 yards and two punts for 0 yards.