Stephon Gilmore was feeling it on his drive in.
"The fans are crazy around here. They love their team," the Buffalo Bills' rookie cornerback said. "They just want a win."
Gilmore was happy to help deliver one Sunday, an emphatic 35-17 trouncing of the Kansas City Chiefs before a jovial sold-out crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium. For Gilmore, it was an ideal bounce-back performance from a rough season opener in New York. He looked more like the player the Bills expected when they made him the 10th overall draft pick in April out of South Carolina.
"I think they fared well, especially early on," Bills safety George Wilson said of the team's young cornerbacks, including Gilmore and second-year players Aaron Williams and Justin Rogers. "I was very pleased with how aggressive our young guys came out at corner. After last week, we gave up some plays on the outside. It can get to you as a corner, but our guys, they didn't make excuses about last week. We went to work this week to correct those mistakes."
Gilmore was aggressive in press coverage throughout the game, and finished the day with team-leading totals in tackles (seven) and passes defensed (three).
"Coach just told us to come out and play more physical than we played last week," he said. "That's what we came out and did. We executed."
In the first quarter, Gilmore made two third-down tackles in space on Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, both times preventing a first down.
By unofficial count of The News, Gilmore was targeted nine times by the Chiefs, and gave up three completions, two of which came in the fourth quarter when the game was all but decided.
On deep sideline throws, he was targeted three times, and did not have any passes completed against him.
"I slowed the game down today. I read my keys and I think I played better," he said. "I think I made a great improvement [from the first week]. Just coming from college, you've got to really slow the game down. You've got to focus on your man and do your job."
Through three quarters, the Bills limited the Chiefs to 171 yards passing in opening a 35-3 lead. Throughout the game, the Chiefs had little success working sideline routes.
"That was by design. We wanted to be more physical out there on the edges and play tighter coverage," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "We gave up one or two, but we were much more physical outside, and they took it to heart."
"That's what I like to do and I think I did a pretty good job [Sunday]," Gilmore said. "I made a couple mistakes but I'm going to go to the film room and correct them and go from there."
Gilmore suffered a brief scare late in the game when he was hurt making a tackle on receiver Jonathan Baldwin. He was looked at by team trainers for a possible head injury, but given a clean bill of health.
"It just got me a little bit," he said. "It wasn't anything serious. It shocked me a little bit but I'm good," he said.
The Bills have just five years of combined experience among their top three cornerbacks, but it didn't hurt them Sunday.
"We're a tight-knit group. We're young, but each one of us knows our assignments," Rogers said. "We do our job and we've got other guys around us with experience to kind of help us out and I think that makes a difference."
Rogers was given the task of defending the Chiefs' shifty slot receiver, Dexter McCluster. He led the Chiefs with six catches for 82 yards in Week One, but was held to four catches for just 32 yards Sunday.
"I knew it was going to be a challenge and that's the way to come in for your first game starting at the nickel - against McCluster," Rogers said. "I think we had a good game plan on him. We did some things to kind of take away what he does, and it worked."