BALTIMORE – Absolutely deplorable.
There is no other way to describe the ineptitude put on display by the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon in their season-opening 47-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the most lopsided Week 1 loss, and the second-worst loss in the 59-year history of the franchise.
You might say the only thing worse than the Bills was the weather as it rained all day at M&T Bank Stadium, and that was reflected in the number of empty seats as thousands of Ravens fans made the right call and stayed home rather than venture out. And they were joined by thousands of others who left at halftime with the Ravens comfortably ahead 26-0.
But that wouldn’t even be correct. Nothing was worse than the Bills on this day, and what made this performance such an utter abomination is that Buffalo was incompetent on offense, on defense, and on special teams, a total team effort. If the Bills were to play twice as well in future games, that might only be good enough to win three or four games.
But quite frankly, given what we saw Sunday, is that even possible? This roster is so devoid of top-level talent, is so lacking in depth, the Bills may not be able to compete on level terms with any team in the league this year.
Nathan Peterman, everyone’s preseason darling, was overmatched once again. The good news is that he didn’t throw five interceptions as he did in Los Angeles last year; only two this time. The bad news is that he could not produce a single first down in the first half. Not a single one. That hasn’t happened in any Bills game in the 21st century.
Of course, he had no help from anyone. His wide receivers couldn’t get open, and his offensive line couldn’t protect him, but the undeniable truth is that Peterman cannot play in the NFL. He just can’t. He’s not big enough, he’s not strong enough, his arm is mediocre, and he can’t turn bad plays into good ones the way the good quarterbacks can. He's barely backup level, let alone a starter, and Sean McDermott may have already come to that conclusion.
The Bills won the coin toss to start the game, and that was the only thing they won all day. McDermott opted to defer as he almost always does — analytics, you know — and the Ravens said thank you very much and drove 80 yards in 10 plays to take a lead they never relinquished. Alex Collins scored the touchdown on a 7-yard run right through the middle of the defense which looked awful the entire series.
After a pair of three-and-outs by the Bills, the Ravens made it 14-0 when Flacco hit John Brown with a 7-yard TD pass on a play where he was uncovered in the end zone. Completely uncovered.
Special teams got into the act in the second quarter as the punt team allowed a 51-yard return by Janarion Grant to the Bills’ 23 that set up a field goal by Justin Tucker.
When the defense finally did something right — Matt Milano recovering a fumble that was forced by rookie Tremaine Edmunds at the Ravens 35 — the offense moved backward and Stephen Hauschka missed a 51-yard field goal.
Before the half ended, Peterman served up the first of his two interceptions which set up a Tucker field goal, and after the Bills twice failed to recover a muffed punt, the Ravens made them pay by driving 85 yards to a Flacco TD pass to Michael Crabtree that made it 26-0.
“Poor Nathan Peterman,” CBS’ Boomer Esiason said at halftime. “They've thrown him to the wolves, boys. He just does not look good. It's unfortunate. The question is will Josh Allen see playing time today assuming nothing happens to Nathan Peterman. It would be a decision by the coaching staff. I don't think they will because I think Baltimore is absolutely feasting on everybody.”
When Peterman did nothing on Buffalo’s first two possessions of the third quarter, McDermott did indeed decide to end the misery and he turned to rookie Josh Allen, proving that McDermott isn’t worried about protecting the first-round asset, or shattering his confidence.
By that point, the deficit had risen to 40-0 as rookie punter Corey Bojorquez dropped a snap at his own 14 that led to Flacco’s 13-yard TD pass to Willie Snead, and Peterman’s second pick resulted in Javorius Allen’s TD plunge.
Like Peterman, Allen really had no chance, but there was no doubt he looked more capable of moving the offense than Peterman did at any point, and he did put together a 12-play, 46-yard march that ended with a Hauschka field goal to break the Ravens’ shutout.
At the end of the third quarter, the Bills had six first downs, were 1 of 12 on third down, and 83 net yards of offense.