The Buffalo Bills picked up right where they left off in 2011, allowing 40-plus points while being routed on the road.
Now missing two of their biggest offensive weapons for an extended period of time, regrouping Sunday likely won't be easy against a visiting Kansas City Chiefs defense returning Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali and seeking to avenge a blowout in last year's season opener.
Buffalo (0-1) was overmatched in a 49-21 loss at New England in the 2011 season finale, and few - if any - offseason improvements were evident in last week's 48-28 road defeat to the New York Jets.
The defense, despite adding prized defensive end Mario Williams in the offseason, couldn't defend against shorter fields following two Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions - he finished with three total - and the special teams unit allowed a punt return before the Bills were able to get points on the board.
"We definitely didn't do what we needed to do to win," Williams said. "The biggest thing was that we didn't get sacks. Starting with myself, we definitely have to put the quarterback on his back with any means necessary."
Making matters worse, starting running back Fred Jackson, who missed the last six games of 2011 with a broken leg, went down with a sprained knee ligament after only six carries for 15 yards. Wide receiver David Nelson then tore a right knee ligament in the fourth quarter.
Jackson will miss at least four weeks, while Nelson was placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season.
''It's a setback,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ''You lose experience and you lose versatility. But I think our guys can adjust.''
C.J. Spiller proved up to the task of replacing Jackson, running for a 56-yard touchdown for Buffalo's first score and finishing with a career-high 169 yards.
''It's a huge blow,'' Spiller said of the injuries. ''But we can't sit around and mope and not regain focus. This just means somebody on offense has got to step up.''
Spiller scored a touchdown for an offense that shined in Buffalo's 41-7 win over Kansas City in last year's season opener. Fitzpatrick threw for 208 yards and a career high-tying four touchdowns, including two to tight end Scott Chandler, who caught one of three Fitzpatrick TD passes against the Jets.
Hali had a sack in last season's meeting, and the Chiefs defense will look to slow down the Bills in Week 2 after a rough performance last week.
Hali missed Sunday's 40-24 loss to Atlanta while serving a one-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy after finishing with 12 sacks in 2011.
His absence, along with those of safety Kendrick Lewis, cornerback Brandon Flowers and defensive tackle Anthony Toribio, seemed noticeable as the Falcons were forced to punt just once and faced only 10 third downs.
While Hali will return, the others were limited in practice this week and are questionable.
"I think as a whole we need to continue to work and get better," Hali told the team's official website. "Every guy has to do their job. We'll continue to study film and study our opponent. We just need to be on top of our game."
Fellow linebacker Derrick Johnson said the Chiefs (0-1) simply need to move on.
"We're trying to get the bad vibe over after this next game," Johnson said. "We've been through that being behind and trying to catch up and at the end of the year. We just need to start winning now, count our wins, and play better."
The offense played well at times last week, converting 11 of 16 third downs and hitting the 20-point mark after being held to 19 or less in its final nine games last season.
Jamaal Charles seems fully recovered from a torn ACL that kept him out of the final 14 games of 2011, rushing 16 times for 87 yards.
Matt Cassel finished 21 for 33 with 258 yards and hit Kevin Boss with a 22-yard touchdown pass, but he also threw two interceptions.
"I think the main thing is just not turning the ball over," Cassel said. "We've got to try to get ourselves into manageable third-down situations and stay out of those third-and-long situations."
The Bills have won four of the last five meetings with the Chiefs, and they're expected to have second-year defensive tackle Marcell Dareus despite him mourning the shooting death of his younger brother last weekend.
- Tamba Hali
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Ryan Fitzpatrick