ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – LeSean McCoy wouldn’t be topping 9,000 career yards rushing if he spent time wilting at the prospect of facing defenses stacked against him or deflecting blame after a bad outing.
And the Buffalo Bills running back isn’t about to start now.
Stopped in his tracks by Luke Kuechly and the Carolina Panthers last weekend, McCoy expects much more from himself with Von Miller and the Denver Broncos coming to town Sunday.
“In this league, you’ve got to deal with it. Too much complaining. Too many excuses,” McCoy said, shouldering the blame for being held to 9 yards on 12 rushes – a career low for a game in which he has more than seven carries – in a 9-3 loss to the Panthers .
“The problem with this league is a lot of players don’t take accountability, and I do,” he added. “I will get it right this week.”
He’ll need to for the sake of an offense that appears rendered ineffective without a ground game. Buffalo managed 10 first downs and never had a snap inside Carolina’s 25.
The Bills (1-1) insist the Panthers didn’t provide any type of blueprint on how to stop them.
“It was a lack of execution all around,” center Eric Wood said. “There’s no one to blame for that but ourselves.”
The challenge doesn’t get easier against Denver (2-0) and a bucking Broncos defense that held Ezekiel Elliott to a mere 8 yards rushing in a 42-17 win over Dallas.
For Denver, Miller says there’s no carryover from last weekend, and notes the Broncos’ retooled defense still has much to prove a year after finishing 28th against the run.
“It’s only been two weeks,” Miller said. “I’ve been in the National Football League for seven years now, and you’ve got to continually do it each and every week.”
Rookie Broncos coach Vance Joseph doesn’t need any reminder of McCoy’s potential after spending last season as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator. In sweeping their AFC East rival, Miami allowed Buffalo 267 yards of offense in the first meeting, but 589 yards in the rematch.
“When I watch Buffalo’s offensive football team, I see a group that’s coming together,” Joseph said, referring to a unit featuring an entirely retooled receiver group and new coordinator Rick Dennison. “The first year, you’re going to have some ups and downs. But if you watch it in cutup form, you can see that it’s going to be an explosive offense. And it starts with LeSean McCoy.”
Some things to watch out for as the Broncos hit the road for the first time since a 33-14 preseason win at San Francisco on Aug. 19:
DENVER TURNAROUND: The Broncos’ five-year playoff streak ended last year with a 9-7 season that was done in by poor run defense and a bad rushing offense once C.J. Anderson blew out a knee at midseason. This year, they’re third in the NFL in stuffing the run behind free agent nose tackle Domata Peko. And they lead the league in rushing behind a healthy and re-focused Anderson who biked 15 miles on his off day this week without working up a sweat.
“Now, I’m back to playing undrafted,” declared Anderson, who’s second in the league with 199 yards rushing.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian is tied with Detroit’s Matthew Stafford with a league-leading six touchdowns passing, and has also scored once rushing.
ZAY IT AIN’T SO: The Bills are counting on rookie receiver Zay Jones to bounce back after Tyrod Taylor’s pass glanced off his fingers at the Panthers 2 in the final seconds. The second-round pick was teary-eyed in the locker room afterward.
“He’s going to make more of those than he doesn’t,” coach Sean McDermott said. “Next time he’s in that situation, he’ll have been there before and done that. I’m looking forward to his next opportunity.”
BRONCOS BLINDSIDE: With rookie left tackle Garett Bolles dealing with a bruised bone in his lower left leg, the Broncos tried out several options during the week, including guard-by-trade Allen Barbre. Other options include swing tackle Donald Stephenson and fourth-year pro Billy Turner.
Bolles got hurt on the opening drive of the second half against Dallas. Stephenson played the next two snaps, but after that, Barbre, a 10-year pro acquired from the Eagles, finished up.
RUN-STUFFERS: The Bills are no pushovers when it comes to stopping the run. They’ve allowed a combined 115 yards rushing, including a mere 38 against the New York Jets. Last season under former coach Rex Ryan, Buffalo allowed more than 115 yards rushing eight times.
SACK ATTACK: The sack is back in fashion in Buffalo, two years after managing 21 – a franchise-low for a 16-game season. The Bills had six against Carolina, Buffalo’s most since getting seven in a 38-3 win against the Jets on Nov. 24, 2014.
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.