Linebackers active**Bills middle linebacker Brandon Spikes and OLB Keith Rivers were active early. The pair of veteran defenders combined for 10 tackles in the first half including seven solos. Each of the linebackers had a tackle for loss in the first half.
Nigel Bradham chipped in four tackles, but his best play was his downfield coverage of Tampa RB Jeff Demps on an attempted touchdown pass by Josh McCown. Bradham was able to foil the scoring attempt and defend the pass after running out wide and downfield with the speedy back. It forced the Bucs to ultimately settle for a field goal.
Buffalo's defense had a total of five tackles for loss in the half.
No huddleThe Bills were practicing their no huddle offense for most of the week in practice and not surprisingly did the same in the first half with EJ Manuel at the helm. While Buffalo did not huddle they usually did not snap the ball until about 15 to 12 seconds remained on the play clock on their possessions.
Their approach however, never had the chance to put the Tampa Bay defense on their heels as the offense was unable to string too many positive plays together. As a result none of their first half possessions lasted more than six plays with their longest managing 30 total net yards.
Not much running roomPart of the reason yards were hard to come by was because of Tampa Bay's stingy run defense. The Buccaneers finished 15th in the league last season against the run allowing just over 110 yards on the ground per game to their opponents. In the first half Saturday the Bucs run front looked stout.
Buffalo through their first seven possessions had 11 carries for 25 yards (2.3 avg.). Tampa DT Gerald McCoy was particularly disruptive at the line of scrimmage.
Flags flyingBuffalo's offense was also slowed by penalties. The Bills committed seven penalties in the first half for 53 yards. The most difficult sequence came on the first drive of the second quarter. Buffalo was flagged for illegal use of hands and holding on back-to-back plays. Then an illegal forward pass led to another 10-yard penalty. It created a 3rd-and-40 situation, which led to a punt.
Later in the half an illegal block in the back penalty led to a 1st-and-20 situation. On the next play there was a sack and forced fumble that was recovered by Tampa Bay and returned for a touchdown.