It started out promising.
But in the second half, promising morphed into pathetic and the Green Bay Packers claimed victory in their home opener with a convincing dissection of the Buffalo Bills, 34-7, at Lambeau Field. The Packers improved to 2-0 and the Bills dropped to 0-2.
In an attempt to awake their offense from a deep and pitiful slumber, the Bills hired head coach Chan Gailey and drafted rookie C.J. Spiller in the offseason. So far through two games, neither has made any significant impact to revive the nonexistent offense.
Under the direction of Gailey, for the second straight week, the Bills managed less than 200 yards of total offense; in last week’s loss to Miami, the Bills managed a Week 1 worst 166 yards of total offense. On Sunday, in their loss to the Packers the Bills gained 186 total yards. In two games this season, the Bills are averaging 8.5 points per game and 176 yards of total offense per game.
Running back Fred Jackson scored the only points for the Bills, capping off an 80-yard drive that lasted over 4 minutes. Jackson’s three-yard score was the lone Bills’ touchdown drive of the game and only their second touchdown in as many weeks.
In the first half, Buffalo and Green Bay played flip the script with each team dominating a quarter. The Packers raced out to an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter on two Mason Crosby field goals (44, 24) and running back Brandon Jackson’s 1-yard touchdown run. In the opening quarter, Green Bay registered seven first downs, 150 yards of offense and dominated time of possession by holding the ball for 11 minutes. The Bills had only one first down and were held without a yard.
Once the second quarter began, it was as if the two teams changed uniforms. The Bills overcame a disastrous first quarter and played near perfect football in the second quarter. Buffalo outgained Green Bay 93-11 in the second quarter, holding the ball for just under 11 minutes. Like the Packers in the first quarter, the Bills tallied seven first downs while holding the Packers without a first down. Jackson’s 3-yard touchdown run at 10:49 made it a one-possession game at 13-7 with the Bills trailing at halftime.
Once the second half commenced, Green Bay kicked it into overdrive and the Buffalo defense sputtered, stalled and finally broke down. And the early backbreaker was a pass Edwards intended for receiver Steve Johnson, who had the pass slipped through his hands and was intercepted by Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar. On the very next play, Rodgers’ first of three touchdowns came on a 7-yard pass to Donald Driver at 8:32 in the third quarter to increase Green Bay’s lead to 20-7.
Rodgers’ 9-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left effectively put the game out of reach and the blowout was in effect with Green Bay leading 27-7. With just over four minutes gone in the fourth quarter, the Packers put the icing on the cake with a 33-yard strike from Rodgers to receiver James Jones.
In the second half, the Bills’ five possessions went like this: interception, punt, interception, turnover on downs, and turnover on downs. Through their first four possessions, Buffalo ran 18 plays and gained just 41 yards.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers badly outplayed his counterpart, Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. Rodgers completed 19-of-29 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another touchdown in the second half. On the other hand, Trent Edwards was abysmal. He completed 11-of-18 passes for 102 yards and threw two interceptions. As I stated yesterday, the Bills had a tremendous need to contain Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. That plan never came to fruition. Matthews was a fixture on Edwards, sacking him three times. Edwards finished the game with a quarterback rating of 37.
It has gone from worse to unfathomable for Buffalo in successive weeks. Lee Evans didn’t have a catch. Spiller had only five touches on offense, finishing with 26 yards and led the Bills in receiving with four catches. His first carry wasn’t until the final two minutes of the game. Marshawn Lynch was given the start at running back, leading the Bills in rushing with 64 yards on 17 carries.
As glaring a mismatch as Clay Matthews was on defense, Packer tight end Jermichael Finley was just as big a nigthmare for the Bills. Finley was the flavor of the day for Rodgers, hauling in four catches for 103 yards averaging 25.8 yards per reception. The Bills’ secondary did a good job on the Packers’ wide out duo of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, holding the pair to 74 receiving yards on seven combined catches.
It seems as though the Bills are in full regroup mode again, as they’ll head back to drawing board. Next up, they’ll head to New England to face the Patriots.