The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams were pushed around by a Buffalo Bills team that won the battles in both trenches.
More times than not, the defending Super Bowl champion has opened with a victory a year after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. But that was hardly the case Thursday night in Los Angeles as Sean McVay’s Rams were humbled by the visiting Bills, 31-10.
The 21-point setback was the second-biggest margin of defeat by a reigning Super Bowl champion in the first game of its defense of its title. In 2013, the Baltimore Ravens fell to the Broncos in Denver, 49-27, after winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Against the Rams in prime time, the Bills’ revamped defensive front made life miserable for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. A year ago, pass-rusher Von Miller was a teammate. On Thursday evening, he had two of Buffalo’s seven sacks of the 14-year pro. McVay’s club ran 66 offensive plays and gained just 243 total yards (3.7 average). On the other side of the ball, veteran Rodger Saffold was a newcomer on the Bills’ offensive. Sean McDermott’s club ran for 121 yards, albeit nearly half (56) came via quarterback Josh Allen.
But back to those seven sacks of Stafford. A year ago during the team’s four-game Super Bowl title run, the veteran quarterback was dropped a combined seven times in those victories. The Rams’ offensive front no longer has left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
But credit to McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane for an offseason in which the franchise made numerous changes on the defensive front – adding the likes of Miller, DaQuan Jones, and Tim Settle while bringing back Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson while parting ways with numerous veterans. Keep in mind that Buffalo was a mediocre 13tt in the league against the run in 2021.
One impressive road victory does not a season make. And keep in mind that the Bills were a bit sloppy with the ball to the tune of four turnovers – including a pair of interceptions by quarterback Josh Allen. But the team’s play on both the offensive and defensive fronts made for a big night at SoFi Stadium.