Bills could run into more trouble against Broncos' defense
After a Week 2 stumble, the Buffalo Bills are looking to get their running game going again Sunday in Orchard Park, N.Y. Standing in their way will be the Denver Broncos.
Buffalo (1-1) was held without a touchdown last week in a 9-3 loss to Carolina, and the Bills' running game went nowhere. LeSean McCoy went from 110 yards rushing in a season-opening win over the New York Jets to 9 yards on a dozen carries against the Panthers.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor believes the offensive fix can be quick, though Buffalo will oppose a Denver defense that shut down Ezekiel Elliott in a 42-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. Elliott, last year's NFL rushing champion, gained 8 yards on nine carries vs. the Broncos (2-0).
"Last week was just a case where we didn't get the running game going," Taylor said of the Bills' typical potent running attack. "That's not going to be the case every week."
McCoy said the Bills must stay patient with their running game even if they don't have initial success against the Broncos' stout defense.
"We need to just stay true to our keys and our identity," McCoy said. "If we get back in points and we're down, just stay with it. The Cowboys kind of went to the passing game so early because they stopped (Elliott) a few times in the running game and they got down on points.
"The Broncos are a tough group, they really are. I think you just have to keep being consistent, running your plays, and you have to keep to your identity. You can't change because of how the game's going because they'll make plays. They're a good defense. They're going to make plays, and you just have to keep at it."
Denver coach Vance Joseph said in many ways Buffalo's offense poses similar challenges to the offense the Broncos just faced in the Cowboys, a big, physical group that leans on the run to drive the attack.
"It's an offense that's built to run the football, starting with McCoy," Joseph said. "He's a special, special runner with the football. Offensive-line wise, it's a big, big, physical line that's a nasty, aggressive group.
"Their quarterback also poses a threat with his legs. He's a passer first, but if the play breaks down, his scrambling ability is a concern."
Safety Darian Stewart said the Broncos' defense isn't fazed by facing two of the NFL's top running backs in consecutive weeks.
"That's the life in the league," Stewart said. "You're going to play a high-profile back every week. We're looking forward to the challenge. He's a shifty back, but we look forward to it."
Taylor said of going up against Denver cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris: "That's a battle each and every week. You face good corners each and every week. There's going to be one-on-one battles that we have to win. I have confidence in all the guys that line up at wide receiver for us, and we're going to make those one-on-one battles work in our favor."
While the Bills will be looking to rev up their offense, Buffalo's defense figures to have its hands full against a Denver offense that showed both explosiveness and the ability to sustain drives in its beat-down of Dallas.
C.J. Anderson has rushed for 199 yards in the first two games to spearhead the league's top rushing attack. Second-year starting quarterback Trevor Siemian is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with six.
"I had the chance to go against Trevor a year ago when I was with the Panthers in the opening game of the year," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "I was impressed with him then. I continue to be impressed. He knows where to go with the football based on coverage looks. He gets in and out of plays at the line. He's efficient. They're very efficient that way."
Buffalo, meanwhile, could be without defensive end Shaq Lawson (foot) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle) this week. Also questionable was offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who also is dealing with a foot injury.
For the Broncos, offensive tackle Garett Bolles is battling a lower leg injury that could prevent him from taking the field Sunday. Wide receiver Bennie Fowler III was in the concussion protocol this week, and his availability also was in question.
Updated September 21, 2017