Two of London Fletcher’s three former NFL teams looked solid on Sunday (that would be the Bills and Rams, not the Redskins, who were awful as expected), but which one was more impressive? Was it St. Louis, which beat Seattle 34-31 in overtime, or was it Buffalo, which beat Indianapolis 27-14?
“I’ll say probably what the Bills did,” the CBS Sports NFL analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We knew it would be a tough fight for Indianapolis and Andrew Luck going in there, but the way Tyrod Taylor played, I don’t think anybody really expected him to play as well as he did. They really dominated that game and made Andrew Luck and that Colts offense very ineffective.”
Indeed, the Bills held the Colts scoreless in the first half and forced three turnovers overall. They also didn’t ask too much from Tyrod Taylor, who was 14-of-19 for 195 yards and a touchdown and rushed nine times for 41 yards.
It was impressive win, to be sure, but can Buffalo keep this up?
“I think so,” Fletcher said. “Just on the defensive side of the ball, when you look at the Bills’ defensive unit, we all know about their front, but their cornerbacks and their safeties (are very talented). The kid (Ronald) Darby played excellent football yesterday. He was a rookie making a debut. He had an interception, a couple pass breakups. Stephon Gilmore was outstanding. They got (Aaron) Williams. They got some players in that secondary that will allow Rex to play the type of defense that he wants to play: bring some blitzes, challenge the corner to play man-to-man, things like that. So I think they match up well from a defensive standpoint.”
The Bills host New England (1-0) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
“Obviously Bill Belichick will have a little bit more time to prepare for Tyrod Taylor (than the Colts did),” Fletcher said. “They have film and footage of him to know what type of player he is. But I expect (the Bills) to have some different wrinkles for the Patriots this Sunday.”
Elsewhere in the AFC, the Denver Broncos looked anything but impressive in beating the Ravens, 19-13. Denver was held without an offensive touchdown, and Peyton Manning was 24-of-40 for 175 yards and an interception.
Brandon Tierney was especially alarmed by Manning’s performance, but Fletcher, who believes the Broncos will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, was not.
“I’m not that discouraged by Peyton and his arm,” he said. “If he underthrew some guys, I’d be more discouraged. He overthrew a couple receivers that he had open. There was the one bootleg play where he was rolling back left and throwing against his body. It was a bad pass. That’s hard for him to make at 39 years old, but that’s tough for a 29-year-old quarterback to make. Obviously I think the Ravens’ defensive game plan was outstanding. They came with a bunch of fire-zone type blitzes and really executed the game plan well. So from that standpoint, I wouldn’t be too discouraged by Peyton Manning. I think if you go in there with the mindset, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have it anymore’ and you can just go out and blitz him and think you’re going to stop the Denver Broncos moving forward and assume Peyton Manning is done, I think (that would be a mistake).”