Buffalo Bills make statement by beating up on defending champion Los Angeles Rams

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Buffalo Bills beat the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams 31-10 as the NFL season kicked off on Thursday night at Sofi Stadium.

Buffalo Bills

After going into halftime tied at 10, the Bills — the Super Bowl favorite per Caesars Sportsbook — went full steam ahead in the second half, scoring touchdowns on three straight possessions, while forcing two punts and intercepting quarterback Matthew Stafford twice in the second half alone.

Despite two first half interceptions — one of which bounced off wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie — quarterback Josh Allen led the way, completing 26 of 33 passes (83.9%) for 297 yards and three touchdowns. His completion percentage breaks the Bills’ regular season record, previously set by Trent Edwards in 2008. Allen also was the team’s leading rusher with nine carries for 57 yards and a score.

Promising trend: The Bills defensive line looks strong, and Von Miller isn’t showing any rust. Quarterback Matthew Stafford had never been sacked seven times as a Ram before Thursday night’s game and with five players contributing sacks. Miller had two sacks, two quarterback hits and three tackles for loss. The group had success even without Ed Oliver on the field as he dealt with an ankle injury.

Pivotal play: The Bills started the fourth quarter with Allen connecting with wide receiver Gabe Davis on a 47-yard pass that set the offense up in the red zone. Allen ran in a touchdown three plays later, which stretched out Buffalo’s lead to two touchdowns. — Alaina Getzenberg

Underrated statistic to know: Buffalo is 20-1 in the last 21 games where Allen has a passing and a rushing touchdown.

Next game: vs. Titans (7:15 p.m. ET, Sept. 19)

Los Angeles Rams

All training camp, Matthew Stafford had to answer questions about the elbow pain in his right arm. The Rams quarterback downplayed the injury, and head coach Sean McVay said Stafford was throwing the ball “excellent” during practice.

But in the loss to the Bills on Thursday night, Stafford struggled, completing 29 of 41 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He had a passer rating of 63.1. The Rams had just one drive with double-digit plays — their long touchdown drive — and Los Angeles was 6-for-13 on third down.

Troubling trend: Stafford was sacked seven times by the Bills, including the first of the night by his former teammate, Von Miller. The seven sacks are the most sacks Stafford has taken since he was traded to Los Angeles in 2021. The Rams had turnover on their offensive line this offseason, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who retired after the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI victory.

Pivotal play: All week, Rams players talked about how tough it is to tackle Bills quarterback Josh Allen, including Aaron Donald saying, “He uses the stiff arm trying to get that separation to get the ball away.” Los Angeles saw that up close on Thursday on third and seven, one play after a Bills false start. Allen extended the drive with his legs, running eight yards for a first down and stiff-arming Rams safety Nick Scott on the play. That play extended a drive that ended with an Isaiah McKenzie touchdown, which ended up being the game-winning score for Buffalo.

Bold prediction for next week: Wide receiver Allen Robinson catches two touchdown passes against the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, Robinson was only targeted twice against the Bills (he had one catch for 12 yards in the second quarter), but the Rams’ offense struggled as a whole. The Rams will come out swinging against the Falcons, and Robinson will be the beneficiary. — Sarah Barshop

Underrated statistic to know: McVay had never lost a season opener or been under .500 in his career as a head coach, until Thursday night.

Next game: vs. Falcons (4:05 p.m. ET, Sept. 18)

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