TORONTO - Drawing up a game plan is the easy part.
Executing it come game day, well that’s something different altogether.
Defensively the Bills game plan against Washington was simple — stop the run and get pressure on quarterback John Beck.
For the Bills that was a whole lot easier said than done as coming into Sunday’s game the Bills were a powder puff team defensively. They ranked 30th in rush defence while their sack total was an embarrassing low of four. So the goal against the Redskins was a double-dipped chore.
But that all changed inside what for the Rogers Centre was a boisterous crowd of 51,579.
This day the defence was stellar.
Part of it may have been the fact that the Bills were well rested, coming off a bye week. Part of it may have been how poorly the Redskins played.
But the biggest part was a fired up defence that led the charge and ruled the day.
Sacks and interceptions are the glory stats on defence and against the Redskins the Buffalo surge was non-stop as they ended up putting Beck on the ground nine times. They also added two interceptions by George Wilson and Jairus Byrd.
The real grunt work, though, occurred in the trenches where the Bills completely controlled the line of scrimmage and stuffed the Redskins ground game. Stopped them cold.
At the end of the 23-0 victory, the Bills D had held Washington to just 26 yards rushing with their longest run from scrimmage a seven-yard scramble by Beck. Washington’s featured running back Ryan Torain logged the ball eight times with his longest run being all of six yards.
The number of first downs rushing for Washington? How about zero.
It was a dominating performance for all and the first of the season for the beleaguered D which up until this game had taken a back seat to the high-powered offence.
“We had two weeks of preparation and the guys did a good job of preparing for this game,” said Bills outside linebacker Spencer Johnson who on the day had four solo tackles, two of them behind the line of scrimmage, one sack and a blocked field goal. “We got after the quarterback, we stopped the run. It was just an overall good defensive effort.
“It was a great overall performance by everybody. That’s what we’re capable of doing as a defence.”
For most of the game the Bills defence gave the impression they knew the play that was coming and at no time did Washington surprise them.
“As a team we did a great job of knowing what was coming, knowing what to expect and anticipating,” he said. “We were ready for everything.”
The shutout, their first of the season, was the proverbial icing on the cake.
“They’re hard to come by, man,” said Johnson, an eight-year vet out of Auburn. “To shut anybody out in the NFL is a big feat, a big accomplishment, a big step in the right direction for our defence.”
Their effort and the confidence that such a performance builds couldn’t come at a more important time for the Bills this season.
With the win and the loss by the Patriots, the Bills and New England are both 5-2 in first place in the AFC East. Next Sunday they have a crucial home game against the New York Jets and following that, they are on the road for three games with stops in Dallas, Miami and New York against the Jets.
“We can be unstoppable man,” Johnson said when asked what can happen if the defence plays as well the rest of the way. “Everybody knows what the offence is capable of and we showed today what we can do as a defence. We can be unstoppable in this league.”
Heading into the game the Bills coaches said they believed in the ability of their defence and that the poor numbers didn’t tell the true story. They believed that better times, better days were ahead and Sunday was the first of what they hope will be many.
It was a sweet payoff for a lot of hard work and sweat.
“We work hard, we’re one of the hardest working teams in the league,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of hard work that’s finally paying off.”