The Buffalo Bills didn’t look newfangled Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Buffalo’s fast-paced offense, criticized for leaving its defense on the field too long through the first three games, pumped the brakes.
Buffalo’s offense huddled at times, ran way more often than it threw, used its fullback and played the kind of style your grandfather would recognize.
The result was a 23-20 win over the defending Super Bowl champion. The game was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, not the Rockpile.
The Bills ran 55 times, 10th in club history and their most since December 1996. They played with the lead for most of the afternoon and held the ball for 36 minutes, 26 seconds.
“We wanted to be physical today,” Bills quarterback EJ Manuel said, referencing formations that deployed two tight ends and a fullback. “I think it worked out well for us. We ran the ball great. The offensive line did a huge job for us getting off the ball.”
Bills coach Doug Marrone admitted he made a mistake by not slowing down at the end of the first half of last week’s loss to the New York Jets. The Bills had a three-and-out series deep in their own territory and gave the Jets enough time to tack on a field goal before halftime.
Rather than manage the clock with a late lead against the New England Patriots on opening day, the Bills pressed to score more points. The Bills failed. They punted the ball back with plenty of time for the Patriots to kick the winning field goal in the final seconds.
“Different situations are going to present different tempos,” Bills center Eric Wood said. “In the past, we haven’t necessarily had those types of situations — I guess minus New England, when we felt like we wanted to get another score.
“We showed today that given the right circumstances, this can be a really diverse and dynamic offense.”
Not only did the Bills win time of possession for the first time this season, but they also improved on their previous best, when they beat the Carolina Panthers, by a whopping 10:07.
The Bills slowed down so much, they had the ball for 10:39 longer than in last week’s loss to the New York Jets but ran only four more plays.
Even if the sight of Buffalo huddling wasn’t enough to demonstrate that ball control was a priority, the presence of fullback Frank Summers should’ve hammered home the point.
Summers played a season-high 33 offensive snaps, according to The News’ unofficial count. Summers had zero snaps in Weeks One and Three (losses to the Patriots and Jets) and 22 snaps in Week Two (victory over the Panthers).
Turner-Carroll graduate Corey Graham didn’t have the happiest homecoming. Robert Woods scorched the Ravens cornerback on the 42-yard, second-quarter touchdown pass that gave the Bills a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Graham played more cornerback than expected. Lardarius Webb left with a thigh injury in the second quarter — right before Woods’ touchdown.
But Graham made nine tackles, including a game-high three tackles for losses. He forced a fumble. Graham’s interception in the fourth quarter terminated a Bills drive after 11 plays.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be in the NFL,” Graham said. “This is my seventh year, so it’s a blessing.
“Just coming here, I looked at it more as an opportunity for my friends and my family to see me play live and in person. I was excited about coming here and playing, but it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to work out, though.”
Thee Bills announced in the first quarter a broken water main closed concession stands and restrooms from Sections 120 through 142.
Fans reported sewage was backed up on the concourse above the end-zone tunnel.
A knee injury sent right guard Kraig Urbik to the locker room with 5:27 left in the first half, but he returned at the beginning of the third quarter.
Safety Jairus Byrd still hasn’t made his season debut. The two-time Pro Bowler missed his fourth straight game with plantar fasciitis.
The Bills worked out cornerback Leodis McKelvin’s injured right hamstring before the game, but they weren’t encouraged enough to dress him.
Also deactivated for Buffalo: receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand), guard Doug Legursky (knee), cornerback Ron Brooks (foot), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).