Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/24/12

Granted, the Cleveland Browns aren't exactly top-shelf material in the NFL. Even so, they're a professional football team, so the ease with which the Buffalo Bills pushed around their offensive line is impressive.

After being stymied in Week One against the New York Jets, the Bills' front four has had two very good games. The Kansas City Chiefs were held to less than 50 rushing yards in Week Two while that game was still competitive, and Sunday the Browns were held to a paltry 33 yards on the ground in the Bills' 24-14 win. And the team has recorded nine sacks in those two games while forcing the pocket to continually crumble like a papier mache art project stuck in the rain.

 

Particularly key was shutting down Trent Richardson, who was considered the Browns' best shot of delivering an upset win against the Bills. After running for 148 yards over the first two weeks, he was limited to 27 yards on 11 carries Sunday, but he did have one nice run, breaking a handful of tackles on his way to a six-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

"Yeah, I mean we did OK," Bills defensive end Mario Williams said. "You know, we definitely had some missed tackles on him, and we should have done better. We definitely should have done better. We have to get back out there and practice and make sure we’re working on our tackling and wrapping up against big, strong backs like that. Overall we did OK, but like I said whenever you miss those tackles that we should have had, it could have been better. So, there is definitely work to do."

That may be, but given that a good run defense is the best way to win in the NFL, the line has given Bills fans hope so far that a turnaround is finally possible in 2012. The 100.3 yards per game the Bills have allowed on the ground are good for 14th in the NFL – not great, but far better than 2011 (139 yards per game allowed, 28th in the NFL), 2010 (169.6, 32nd), 2009 (156.3, 30th) and 2008 (122.6, 22nd). And the Chiefs rached up 104 rushing yards late in the Week Two game, after the score was 35-3 and the game was well in hand, so while those stats count they're not entirely reflective of the performance of the defensive front four so far.

The nine sacks, meanwhile, are good for fifth in the NFL so far in 2012. They are also more than one-fourth of the 29 sacks the team recorded in the entire 2011 season, during which opposing quarterbacks all too often were free to impose their will on the Bills, especially on lengthy third downs upon which conversions often cost Buffalo ball games. Key Sunday was that the line bowled over Cleveland's blockers in the second half, quickly quelling any thoughts of a Browns comeback and allowing the Bills to maintain control of what was – on the scoreboard, anyway – a fairly close game.

Williams recorded his first sack of the season Sunday (he ended with 1.5 sacks) but emphasized the team component, as the Bills sacked Brandon Weedon four times:

"It feels great, but you know it also feels better whenever you can go out and perform and you can play off one another. You can take up two blocks, you can take off three blocks, and I mean, across the board they had to pick and choose the poison. I mean, it was either left side they were going to, right side they were going to or whatever, but at the end of the day we played off one another and we made it happen."

So were the $130 million in improvements to the D-line this past offseason worth it? It's probably still too soon to tell. But early returns indicated no amount of zeroes at the end of those checks would be too many.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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