They've been playing well all season long, but against some of the best quarterbacks the league has to offer Buffalo's defense has been nothing short of stifling. They might only have one win to show for it, but over the past two weeks the Bills effectively neutralized a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Denver's Peyton Manning and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
In Week 14 on the road Buffalo held Peyton Manning without a touchdown ending his streak at 51 games with at least one touchdown pass. Manning threw for just 173 yards and completed just 14 passes, his fewest completions in a game in almost seven seasons. He had just 13 completions against Baltimore (12/7/07). He also was picked off twice in the game against the Bills.
His passer rating against the Buffalo (56.9) was the lowest in six seasons with a rating of 46.8 against Cleveland (11/30/08) the only figure worse than the one against the Bills in Week 14.
The situation was no better for Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers Sunday, who completed just 40 percent of his passes, a career low in a game, and had just 17 completions along with a pair of interceptions. His passer rating of 34.3 for the game was also the lowest of his career.
Defensive captain Kyle Williams believed Buffalo's defense could corral the talents of both Manning and Rodgers and were not going to play in awe of the two signal callers.
"We talked about it all week and I think we talked about it Monday or Tuesday—we're not going to get caught up in the hoopla of who we're playing, or the gauntlet of quarterbacks. We've played great quarterbacks. We've played well against great quarterbacks," said Williams, knowing their divisional rematch with Tom Brady looms in Week 17. "The only expectation we had was to play well and win that football game. We were able to do that."
The fact that the Bills were successful against both quarterbacks without relying on their main calling card this season made their back-to-back performances even more impressive. Buffalo still leads the league in sacks, but held Manning in check despite not taking him to the turf once in Week 14. The only sack Buffalo had on Rodgers came on the final offensive play from scrimmage for Green Bay when Mario Williams stripped the ball from Rodgers in Green Bay's end zone resulting in a safety for Buffalo, which clinched the victory.
Photos of Bills pass rushers sacking and pressuring opposing QBs during the 2014 season.
"The biggest thing was just trying to get after him, get him rattled, just kind of get him not looking at where he was trying to throw the ball necessarily," said Mario Williams. "We got close a bunch of times."
As much credit as Buffalo's front four gets, their secondary has made almost as many plays. Their four interceptions off Manning and Rodgers the past two weeks has the Bills second in the league in takeaways with 30 and second in the league in interceptions with 19.
"We were expecting to shut them down," said Aaron Williams. "We went up against a Hall of Famer last week. Why couldn't we do it again this week? Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback. I think he's the best quarterback in the league right now. I knew as long as we had great communication on the back end we had this game in our hands."
"Our secondary played tremendous out there," said Jerry Hughes. "It's the no fly zone for a reason. Two weeks, two big weeks, back to back they came out ready. It just speaks volumes the way those guys prepare back there. They put a lot of extra work in day in and day out."
"The Bills defense really played the game," said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "They overloaded some formations and coverages. I thought the upfront battle was good. I thought their coverage was all over us and we just didn't make enough plays. We weren't sharp, no doubt about it. Our passing game—that's not the kind of numbers we're used to producing."
Buffalo is still in the AFC playoff hunt at 8-6 and has two significant AFC conference games left on their regular season schedule at Oakland and at New England. Though the Bills are focused on the Raiders first and foremost, the conclusion of their run through a gauntlet of perennial Pro Bowl quarterbacks in December will come in Week 17 when they face Tom Brady for the second time this season.
The Patriots won the first matchup 37-22 in Buffalo.
The last time the Bills faced three different quarterbacks with three or more Pro Bowl appearances in a four-week span was from Nov. 24, 1994 – Dec. 4, 1994, when Buffalo played Dave Krieg (DET), Dan Marino (MIA) and Warren Moon (MIN).
"We're really good," said veteran CB Corey Graham. "Really good. I mean the last couple of weeks I definitely started to notice it even more. We already knew how good the D-line was, the linebackers, even the D-Bs, we know how good we are. But to do what we've done the last couple of weeks against the best in the league, the best they have to offer, it's been special."