Terrell Suggs was back in his element Sunday afternoon.
After missing almost all of last season with a torn Achilles, Suggs seemed to relish his return. He made his typical stroll along the stadium wall to fire up fans during pre-game warmups, and then he was the last player out of the tunnel before offensive introductions.
He soaked up the moment. And then he showed he can still play ball.
"It's the first game, but I felt really good about it," he said.
Suggs finished the game with two tackles and a sack, and his biggest play came when the Ravens needed a critical fourth-quarter stop. They were clinging to a six-point lead when Buffalo had the ball with under five minutes to play, and Suggs brought down Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the backfield for a 12-yard loss.
The sack forced Buffalo to punt, and the Ravens ran out the clock on the next possession.
"It was a collective effort," Suggs said. "We gave up some plays, but the levees didn't break. We played Raven football."
Suggs' contributions also went beyond what showed up in the box score. He set the edge in the running game and his ability to diagnose plays at the line of scrimmage benefited the entire defensive front.
He's the emotional leader of the defense, and getting him back seemed to give the entire group a boost. With Suggs in the lineup, the defense had about as good of a showing as they could have wanted. They gave up just seven points and 160 yards. It was better than any performance they had all of last season.
"It changes a lot," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "You have your general leading your troops into battle. Having him out there with all of his excitement and his energy, it's contagious. Once he's out there, you see him making plays, doing what Terrell Suggs does, it gets into everybody and we all start balling together."
Suggs acknowledged that he's still knocking off the rust after being sidelined for so long. He played just a couple series in the preseason, and the Ravens are being careful with his snaps early in the year.
Suggs almost never came off the field in previous years, but the Ravens consistently rotated him with young linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Matthew Judon throughout Sunday's game.
"It's definitely still coming. This is like my first live action in a year," Suggs said. "I'm just going to continue to chop wood. You can always get better."