ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Defensive tackle Kyle Williams has been on previous Buffalo Bills teams that would have folded in the face of adversity.
Not this time. And it’s a key reason why Williams was upbeat on Monday, a day after the Bills opened the season with a 23-20 overtime win at Chicago.
”The win was important, but really, what meant more to me, was adversity at the end of the game, call goes against us, gives them a big first down,” Williams said in reference to officials picking up a flag for offensive holding during the Bears’ game-tying field goal drive at the end of regulation.
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”I told the team after the game, I’ve been on teams that would have used that as a crutch,” Williams said. ”Rather than using it that way, we turned it into fuel, made some plays and went and won the game.”
Now the Bills are off to a 1-0 start for just the second time in six years.
The win comes after a disappointing 1-4 preseason for the Bills. The starting offense managed just two touchdowns and four field goals in 23 possessions, raising questions about quarterback E.J. Manuel’s ability to lead the offense.
In the opener, Manuel was efficient and the defense opportunistic.
The Bills, who host Miami on Sunday, won in Chicago for the first time in team history despite falling behind 7-0 early and squandering a 17-7 halftime lead.
”Resiliency hasn’t always been our strong suit,” center Eric Wood said. ”As an offense, and a defense, both sides stepped up and made plays when needed, and special teams stepped up and won the game there at the end.”
Players said the preseason is long forgotten.
”We’re undefeated,” wide receiver Mike Williams said. ”It feels good. Like Wood said yesterday, we’re better than half the teams in the league right now. It feels good. We have a lot of confidence going into the week.”
Two other AFC East teams won on Sunday: Miami and the New York Jets. New England lost to the Dolphins.
New England, which has won the division in 11 of the past 13 seasons, is in last place for the first time since 2000.
”We want them to lose all of their games,” said Williams, a Buffalo native. ”Hopefully they keep losing so they make it easier for us to win the division.”
Buffalo won despite running just 56 offensive plays, fewer than in any game last season, and giving up 29 first downs and 341 net passing yards, more than in any game a year ago.
The defense produced three turnovers that led to 13 points. And Manuel completed 10 of his first 12 passes to help the Bills build out a 17-7 halftime lead.
Manuel, who finished 16 of 22 for 173 yards, one touchdown and one interception, also gave a rousing pregame speech, a first for the second-year quarterback.
”He took his headphones off and just turned into a beast running through the locker room,” Williams said. ”It hyped everyone up and helped us with that start.”
Running back Fred Jackson, whose 38-yard run in overtime set up the winning field goal, said this was the biggest road win he’s been a part of in seven years with the Bills.
”When you look back at it and realize that we haven’t won a game there, that definitely puts some icing on the cake for that,” Jackson said. ”To be able to have everyone come out and compete the way we did and everybody come together and make plays on both sides of the ball, even special teams, was big for us and something we can definitely build on.”
The Bills released DE Jacquies Smith in a move that opens up a roster spot for LB Nigel Bradham, who is eligible to return this week after serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. … S Aaron Williams left Sunday’s game with concussion-like symptoms and will be evaluated according to the league’s concussion protocol before the Bills determine his availability for Sunday’s game against Miami. … LB Keith Rivers (groin) and CB Stephon Gilmore (groin) are both listed as day-to-day.