What happened in Buffalo's 24-14 Week 3 victory over Cleveland is exactly what the Bills had in mind when they re-tooled their defense in the offseason.
By bringing in free-agent defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills were looking to improve a woeful pass rush that was the worst in the NFL in 2011 with just 29 sacks. After sacking Brandon Weeden four times, the Bills now have nine sacks in the last two weeks.
But this was also a defense that ranked 28th in rushing a year ago, allowing 2,234 yards, and by switching to a 4-3, improving their play against the run was also a stated mission. In Week 2, the Bills held Kansas City's Jamaal Charles to three yards on six carries, and against the Browns, stud rookie Trent Richardson, coming off a 109-yard game against Cincinnati, was held to 27 yards on 12 carries.
"That was one of the things that we talked about and made a big deal about this week was not letting him out of there, controlling him, making them throw the football; it worked kind of like we thought it would," said coach Chan Gailey. "(Brandon) Weeden made some good plays, but we got some sacks and we stopped the run and we played great third-down defense. If you can do that, you're going to play pretty good defense in this league."
Cleveland finished with 33 yards rushing. That was the lowest yield for a Bills defense in a road game since 2003 when they held the New York Giants to 24 rushing yards in a 24-7 victory at the Meadowlands. Jumping to a 14-0 lead at Cleveland helped, but the game was close again in the third quarter, and the Bills refused to let Cleveland get anything established on the ground and forced Weeden to take to the air.
"That sounds like a good day," said Bills middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard. "It started up front. I give most of the credit to the defensive line. They really controlled the line of scrimmage and it made it easy for the 'backers to scrape and make tackles. You don't want (Richardson) getting north and south. You fill the gaps and build what we call the gate and make him go east and west."
Last year six different backs topped 100 yards against the Bills, including a 203-yard effort by Miami's Reggie Bush. In three games this season, Shonn Greene of the Jets came closest with 94 yards.
"Wish we could do it every week," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "We had guys that stepped up in big parts of the game. Everybody along the front made some plays. We did a great job in the run game, so we're pretty happy with how things went. That's what we have the guys to do. Everybody can make plays at any point in the game. When you've got guys all along the front who, when they get one-on-one , they have the chance to win and can win."
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