When looking for a takeaway from the Bills' 23-0 loss to the Detroit Lions, Thursday, look no further than the performance put on by the first team defense. Although the unit saw only two series, the number one unit forced a pair of three and outs. Several starters remained on the field during Detroit's third drive and forced the Lions to attempt a 53-yard field goal.
"We feel it's a pretty good start," said S Aaron Williams. "We need to finish a lot better and keep going hard. Now it's the real deal so we're going to get rest these next couple days and get ready for Chicago."
The unit showed top form from the start. During the Lions' initial drive, the defense capitalized on a delay of game penalty which erased a five yard completion from the previous play. CB Ron Brooks stepped up and halted a seven-yard completion from Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky to running back Theo Riddick, forcing a punt on the next play. This efficiency on third down is something the team and coaching staff have stressed in practice throughout the preseason.
"I feel like we've done a lot better at getting off the field on third down," said Williams. "We really emphasized getting off the field on third downs, generating turn overs and getting the ball to our offense and give them a chance to score."
So far, the Bills' defense has been the most consistent part of the teams' game. As a unit, the team had the third best run defense in the preseason going into this last preseason game, only Tampa Bay and Denver were ranked higher. When Thursday's performance is taken into account, the Bills previous average of 81 allowed rushing yards per game unofficially comes down to just under 76.
Adding to this, the Bills went into Thursday's game as the number one team in the league as far as average yards per carry allowed with 2.75 yards per carry. After Thursday's game it finished at 2.6.
"We've been ready since New York, since the Hall of Fame Game," said Williams. "We worked our butts off, we made each other better and now it's time to really get going."
It's not just the players saying this, however, the consistent effort has been noticed by Head Coach Doug Marrone.
"We've had some really, really good performances defensively when our guys were out there," said Marrone.
With a full five preseason games under their belts, Williams and the rest of the first team defense are steeling themselves for the start of the regular season.
"It's been forever since it's been live and for real for us guys," said Williams. "We worked out butts off in the offseason and we're just glad that it's finally here, we don't have to wait no more. You know, it's here. Game time. Game one. We're all excited."