There were many elements of Sunday's game that made Rex Ryan's first victory as head coach of the Bills special. Yes, there was the fact that he became the first Bills head coach to win his first game to open the season. Ryan's father, famed inventor of the 46 defense, Buddy Ryan was in attendance for his son's debut at Ralph Wilson Stadium. But trumping it all was the way in which the 73-thousand Bills fans in attendance not only came through on Ryan's request for their vocal support, but exceeded expectations.
"Our fans were awesome," said Ryan in his opening statement following the game. "Man it was unbelievable. I mean you could barely hear yourself think or anything else but it was…this game was all about our fans and it was all about the preparation of our players. So I tip my hat to our players and our fans especially."
The sheer collective volume of Buffalo's fans in the stands had an impact on the game early and often. The problems for Indianapolis began on the sixth snap from scrimmage when Colts guard Lance Louis was flagged for a false start because he could not hear the snap count. Life only got more difficult for the Colts from there.
Backed up deep in their own territory for each of their first four drive starts, the Indianapolis offense was all the closer to the fans behind the goalposts, and they were raining a raucous din down upon them.
"When you've got a crowd that's doing that and being effective in the game against a great quarterback like that he can't make his calls," said LB Nigel Bradham. "(Indianapolis running back) Frank Gore walked up to him before the snap and he's right next to him and he still can't hear him. And I saw him walk back to the backfield and he's shaking his head like, 'I don't know. I don't know what to do.' When you get stuff like that it makes things so much easier for us as a defense."
"We knew that it was going to be a tough game here; a tough opener going on the road," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. "It's hard enough to win a game in the National Football League, doesn't matter where you play, but you play in an environment like this against a quality football team. Credit to the Bills; they played excellent football."
The Colts had to call timeouts, flirted with some delay of game penalties and in the end were rendered ineffective by Buffalo's defense. But the Bills head coach and several of his defensive players were tipping their hat to the fans.
"Shout out to all the fans, all the fans that sat out there," said Nickell Robey. "Y'all did a great job making it loud for them. They were jumping offsides, they didn't know what we were doing. We were mixing it up. We got their cadence down because of the crowd. So with our blitzes we were on point."
"The noise was outrageous," said LB Preston Brown. "That's the loudest I've ever heard anything. I'm sure he couldn't hear, because I couldn't hear, we tried to make checks, too. We couldn't even hear ourselves. That's the loudest I've ever heard."
Ryan fully believed his defense fed off the raw energy the fans were providing with their collective volume.
"I'll tell you where I felt it – we come out and our fans were up the whole time," said Ryan. "It was unbelievable, and I was like, 'You can sit down anytime soon.' But I'm like, 'I forgot this is Buffalo,' and it was awesome…and the introductions, they were standing the entire time, it was just incredible. They knew it was going to be a special day and so did I."
Photos of all the action from the Bills home opener against the Colts.