ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Ryan lamented there was only one thing missing in making his Buffalo Bills coaching debut complete.
“I think, we would have gotten a shutout,” Ryan said following a 27-14 season-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. “But when you’re playing the Colts, that’s not going to happen too often.”
In other words, he’ll take it.
The Bills showed signs of unveiling the bully Ryan had vowed to build in Buffalo when he took over in January after Doug Marrone stepped down abruptly.
Karlos Williams and Boobie Dixon each rushed for touchdowns as part of a ground-and-pound attack that combined for 147 yards. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was efficient in his Bills debut. He completed 14 of 19 for 195 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Percy Harvin, and added 41 yards rushing.
And Buffalo’s dominating defense put the clamps on Andrew Luck and what was one the NFL’s best offenses a year ago.
The Colts managed just nine first downs and 148 yards of offense in the first half, which ended with usually reliable Adam Vinatieri missing a 52-yard field goal wide right.
Luck finished 26 of 49 for 243 yards, and two touchdowns — a 2-yard pass to Donte Moncrief’s 2-yard catch and Dwayne Allen’s 6-yard score — and two interceptions.
“They beat us pretty bad,” Luck said. “You don’t let one game necessarily define you, but that doesn’t make it any easier of a pill to swallow.”
The Bills grabbed the momentum by capitalizing on Luck’s first interception.
Rookie cornerback Ronald Darby timed his leap perfectly to intercept Luck’s deep pass intended for T.Y. Hilton. Five plays later, Taylor dropped back in the pocket and hit Harvin in stride to open the scoring.
“It’s a game changer,” linebacker Nigel Bradham said of how the offense capitalized on the turnover. “Any time you get a situation like that where the offense just goes down and puts it in for us, we’re going to sit back as a defense and be happy, with smiles on our faces.”
Buffalo proceeded to score on its next three possessions, capped by Dixon’s 1-yard run in the third quarter to build a 24-0 lead six minutes into the second half.
It was a hole far too deep for the Colts to overcome.
“They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said.
Actually, the Bills’ defense was playing minus tackle Marcell Dareus, serving a one-game suspension. And Buffalo then lost its senior defensive back, safety Corey Graham, who sustained a possible concussion while tackling Frank Gore on the first play from scrimmage.
For Indianapolis, Hilton didn’t return after bruising his left knee late in the third quarter.Colts owner Jim Irsay said preliminary tests were negative, but added it’s too early to determine whether their top receiver will miss any playing time.
The Colts’ offense was hardly in synch even with Hilton, who finished with seven catches for 88 yards. Gore struggled finding holes in his Colts debut — and also missed a series because he cramped up. He finished with 31 yards rushing on eight carries and had two catches for 0 yards.
Receiver Andre Johnson, another veteran offseason addition, barely made an impact while spending much of the game covered by Buffalo’s top cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Johnson finished with four catches for 24 yards — and had Luck’s 2-point conversion throw go through his hands.
“Big disappointment,” Irsay said. “It’s very tough to take. We have nothing but to bounce back.”
NOTES: Taylor technically didn’t start at quarterback as the Bills opened with a trick play. Taylor lined up at receiver, with veteran Matt Cassel taking the snap and handing the ball to LeSean McCoy for a 6-yard loss. Taylor signed with the Bills this offseason after spending the past four years as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore. … Bills LB Randell Johnson recovered a punt muffed by rookie Phillip Dorsett at the Colts 26 early in the fourth quarter. The turnover led to Dan Carpenter’s 45-yard field goal for a 27-8 lead. … Carpenter was 2 for 2 by also hitting a 45-yarder after missing three of six in preseason.