Buffalo Bills far from perfect despite 2-0 start
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Coach Doug Marrone figures the unbeaten Buffalo Bills have much to prove before anyone starts paying them respect.
''We know it's a long season,'' Marrone said Monday, a day after the Bills improved to 2-0 with a 29-10 win over Miami. ''To sit here and say, `Oh, did we expect to have people give us credit?' Not when you haven't done anything for such a long period of time. I think we understand that.''
Marrone, of course, was referring to Buffalo's 14-season playoff drought that stands as the NFL's longest active streak.
This is also a team that has previously found ways of turning promising starts into losing finishes. That most recently happened in 2011, when the Bills opened with three consecutive wins and were 5-2 through October, before losing eight of their last nine.
''We've got to get better each week,'' said Marrone, who was already looking ahead to hosting the Chargers (1-1) on Sunday. ''And really, all of our focus right now is the game that's next, San Diego.''
The Bills, among seven teams that opened Monday without a loss, still have plenty of room for improvement.
Their red-zone offense is an area of concern after Buffalo scored one touchdown and settled for three field goals on five drives inside the Dolphins 20.
''We have to focus on the red zone,'' said rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, who scored his first career touchdown against Miami on a 12-yard catch. ''It's sad to just be kicking field goals. That's something we have to fix.''
Added offensive guard Chris Williams: ''How we played yesterday won't win for us later in the season.''
Buffalo began Monday tied with New Orleans with an NFL-leading 10 red-zone drives. And yet, Buffalo was tied for 17th with just three red-zone touchdowns.
Marrone said the numbers are a little skewed due to circumstance.
The Bills only needed a field goal in overtime to secure a season-opening 23-20 win over the Bears. Against Miami, they settled on running the ball to take time off the clock on their final two red-zone possessions in the fourth quarter.
Marrone, however, did acknowledge the Bills' struggles during the first half, in which they came away with three field goals on three possessions that stalled inside the Dolphins 13.
''I don't want to say anything negative but we had opportunities, and we weren't able to get it,'' he said.
At least Buffalo is getting solid play from its defense and special teams.
The Bills gave up 80 yards rushing against Miami, a week after allowing only 86 against Chicago. That's a big step for a defense that allowed less than 90 yards rushing only three times last season.
Buffalo already has six sacks and has forced five turnovers (two fumbles, three interceptions).
Special teams played a significant role against Miami. C.J. Spiller scored on a 102-yard kickoff return, Anthony Dixon blocked a punt, Randell Johnson recovered a muffed punt, and Dan Carpenter hit five of six field-goal attempts.
On offense, Marrone is pleased with how the Bills have provided an immediate response following an opponents' scoring drive.
That was apparent against Miami in a back-and-forth third quarter that ended with Buffalo up 23-10.
Spiller scored on the ensuing kickoff after Miami cut Buffalo's lead to 9-3. When the Dolphins scored again on Mike Wallace's 7-yard touchdown catch, the Bills replied with a six-play, 77-yard drive capped by Watkins' score.
In all, Buffalo has trailed for a span of 4:43 this season.
Quarterback EJ Manuel will take the wins, and focus on getting better.
''You're never going to be perfect, but the good thing is we're still coming out with two wins versus two great teams,'' Manuel said. ''As long as we win, I'm happy.''
In evening his career record at 6-6, the second-year quarterback has been efficient after an inconsistent and injury-shortened rookie season. He's gone 32 of 48 for 375 yards with two touchdowns, plus one rushing, and one interception.
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