Sunday September 25, in front of a crowd of 68,647 as jets flew overhead the Arizona Cardinals found themselves in a showdown as the Cardinals traveled to Buffalo to take on the Bills. Coming in at 1-1 while the Bills entered at 0-2 this game quickly took the feel of a prove it game for both sides. The Cardinals entering with Super Bowl aspirations while the Bills look for much needed answers to a team that has faced multiple questions so far this season. A homecoming of sorts for the Ryan brothers as they started their coaching career in Arizona under their father, Rob Ryan the former head coach of the Cardinals.
Following a week, which saw the changing of the gears for the Bills as they removed Greg Roman from offensive coordinator replacing him with two-time super bowl, champion Anthony Lynn, and head coach Rex Ryan being put on the hot seat the Bills needed to come out strong. Come out strong they did as the Bills looked like a new team in the first quarter compared to their first two games.
The defense exhibited all the characteristics of a Rex Ryan defense as they picked up a key sack on third down on Carson palmer and nearly removing any sort of passing game in the first quarter for the Cardinals. Following an early trend the Cardinals were held scoreless in the first quarter, just as they were the previous two games to begin the season. The Cardinals went into the second quarter having picked up no first downs and two total yards.
As expected the eyes were on new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn early as it was the Bills offensive that had a different look to it early. Passing the ball early and often, something Ryan spoke about that he wanted to do earlier in the week the Bills threw the ball 11 times to four different receivers in the first compared to only 7 runs. A 49 yard run by quarterback Tyrod Taylor was the real difference early on setting up a Dan Carpenter field goal to go up 3-0 early. The run was the longest by a quarterback in Bills history. As big as that run by Taylor may have been it was not even the most impactful run of the first as a LeSean McCoy 24-yard touchdown run in the first extended the Bills lead followed by a 5-yard run in the second to put the Bills up 17-0 early. The two early touchdowns were the 49th and 50th respectively of McCoys career.
A late David Johnson 4-yard touchdown run with under two minutes before the half gave the Cardinals their first score and productive drive of the game cutting the deficit to 17-7 heading into the half.
An all around performance in the first half for the Bills, they seemingly outplayed the Cardinals in all facets of the game. An offense that struggled to open the season came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as the Bills looked to have gotten away from the vanilla offense featured under Roman. A new look offense that featured quick passes, wildcat runs, and notable option plays for Taylor. On the defensive side of the ball except for the lone Cardinals scoring drive and some key penalties the defense looked sharp as they swarmed to the ball making plays.
The second half was much of the same for the Bills as there well-rounded attack was relentless against Arizona. Stopping the Cardinals on their first possession of the half the Bills easily thanks to their run game marched down the field for a 20-yard Taylor touchdown run off of a broken play. A little bit of luck never hurts as the ensuing Cardinal possession saw the Bills execute on the miscues of Arizona’s special teams. A botched field goal attempt recovered by Aaron Williams of the Bills went for 53-yards and a touchdown.
Both the Cardinals and the Bills looked reliant and dominant on the ground game. McCoy and Johnson each contributed two touchdowns apiece as they proved to be the offensive workhorses in this one. Even without number one receiver Sammy Watkins the Bills offense was able to make plays. In Watkins place Robert Woods stepped up playing the role of number one for Tyrod Taylor reeling in six catches. Notably in this one the leg of Chandler Catanzaro showed up as it often does as he nailed from midfield a 60-yard field goal in the 4th quarter.
Following a late comeback attempt by the Cardinals negated by a crucial Stephen Gilmore and Corey Graham interceptions the Bills would hold on in this one by a score of 33-18. The Bills pick up their first victory of the season and move to 1-2 and will face the Patriots next week. The Cardinals after falling upset victims to the Bills move to 1-2 and will face the Los Angeles Rams at home.
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