BALTIMORE -- All offseason, the Baltimore Ravens talked about getting more freedom from new defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.
The Ravens rewarded him with the NFL's most dominant defensive performance of Week 1, putting up numbers that rivaled one of NFL's all-time great defenses and delivering a message that should put all quarterbacks' heads on a swivel.
In Sunday's 47-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore allowed the fewest points and yards (153) in the league while recording six sacks and two turnovers.
This wasn't a Khalil Mack, one-man gang effort. The Ravens came at the overmatched Bills in waves and from all angles.
"As a team, you can click as a defense and as a whole team," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I can’t say it enough. It’s only one game; yeah, it’s a good start. But, you know, we think we can get better."
It's easy to dismiss Baltimore's bashing because it happened against Buffalo, which has major question marks at quarterback and along the offensive line. But the statistics are too impressive to ignore.
The Ravens didn't allow a first down in the first half for the first time in franchise history and held the Bills to 33 total yards before halftime. That's the second-fewest yards ever permitted by the Ravens in a first half. Only the Ravens' record-setting 2000 defense gave up fewer.
Baltimore would've had a shutout if not for the Bills' 35-yard field goal late in the third quarter. Through Sunday's games, the Ravens were the only team not to allow a touchdown.
"Hell yeah, man. I wish it was zero. Everybody wished it was a shutout," linebacker Kenny Young said. "It’s a start. We have to get ready for Cincinnati [on Thursday night] and just keep sacking them."
Baltimore easily handled Buffalo despite not being at full strength. Cornerback Jimmy Smith is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, and defensive lineman Willie Henry is sidelined after having hernia surgery.
With Michael Pierce replacing Henry, the Ravens limited the Bills to 83 yards rushing and 3.8 yards per carry. Without Smith, Baltimore held Buffalo quarterbacks to 11-of-33 passing for 98 yards. Brandon Carr, who filled in for Smith, made an interception, and nickelback Tavon Young became the first Baltimore defensive back in 22 years to finish with two sacks in a game.
"I think [Martindale] called a great game. Whatever they threw at us, we were able to answer," Suggs said. "[But] you can’t tell anything by the first game. You all know the NFL season is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. Nobody is going into a Super Bowl, playoffs or anything right now after this game. It’s one game."