In an offensive scheme that's finally supposed to more heavily include the tight end, Bills tight end Robert Royal had a promising debut emerging as Trent Edwards' prime target in a 34-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Royal finished the game with a career-high six receptions for 52 yards and the Bills' final touchdown in the victory.
Buffalo receiver Lee Evans said Royal has worked hard to become a trusted target for Edwards.
"Robert has made himself a viable receiver and Trent found him on a number of occasions," Evans said.
Royal caught passes on back-to-back plays with 34 seconds left in the first half to help set up Rian Lindell's 38-yard field goal that put the Bills ahead 20-7 at halftime.
He talked about the importance of getting to the sideline with 22 seconds left in the half after getting trapped in bounds in the right flat on the previous play.
"When I'm 250 pounds, it doesn't work like that," Royal said. "I don't have that Josh Reed, Lee Evans or Roscoe Parrish (speed). I should have gotten out of bounds. The second time…no matter what happened in the yardage situation, I just wanted to get the ball out of bounds."
Royal's longest catch came on the goal line in double coverage as he hauled in Trent Edwards' 30-yard pass a play after Lindell recovered a Seattle fumble forced by Buffalo linebacker Jon Corto on the kickoff.
The Bills ran the play twice in a row in order to take advantage of a specific red zone coverage run by the Seahawks.
"It was pretty much something been working on all week," Royal said. "We actually called the play before that but they didn't give us the look for me to do the exact route. Then once they gave me the look I was able to get a move on the cornerback and Trent (Edwards) was able to rope the ball down there and I was able to make the play."
"He ran his adjustment route to the coverage," said Edwards. "We got what we wanted."
After being held scoreless for almost the entire first quarter the Bills' offense was able to settle down by taking a simple approach.
"We told everybody just pick up your man," Royal said. "Don't try to do too much, just go out there and take it one play at a time, inch by inch…At first, a lot of guys were doing different things, and that's not the way we play football, not executing. We've got to go out there and focus on our job, your job only, and let everything come together."
Edwards believes Royal's success is due in large part to his ability to embrace his individual role within the framework of the Bills' offense.
"He understands the offense, he understands his role in the offense," Edwards said. "(It helps) when you have a tight end like that that knows when he is the primary (receiver) and knows when he is blocking. It's huge having a guy like that that can make huge plays in the red zone and block in the run game."
The Bills quarterback credits Royal's presence in the huddle for helping his own development and he sees the tight end having an increasingly important role in the team's offense.
"I hope we can get him the ball more," Edwards said. "They're going to be huge in opening our receivers and opening up our run game a little bit. We're going to need to get him the ball."
Royal is glad they turned in a solid performance as a team, but still feels they have much room for improvement. Bleeding the clock when the Bills have the lead in the fourth quarter is just one of the things he's got on the team's to-do list.
"We still have a lot of things to work on…We've got to get some first downs and make them use their timeouts and try to kill the clock," he said. "But overall special teams, defense, and offense we put it together and got us a win."
And Royal's career best performance was an encouraging sign at a position that hasn't had many chances to produce for Buffalo's offense.