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First-quarter analysis: Red-zone struggles on full display

By Jay Skurski

A 6-0 lead after the opening quarter sounds pretty good for the Buffalo Bills, but it’s easy to be disappointed by it.

The Bills twice have had to settle for field goals inside the red zone today against the Baltimore Ravens at Ralph Wilson Stadium, with Dan Carpenter converting both times from 27 yards out.

The Bills are now failed to score a touchdown in their past five trips inside the red zone, settling for Carpenter field goals each time.

The Bills’ first drive of the game covered 64 yards in 11 plays and took 4:43 off the clock. The big play was a 26-yard completion from EJ Manuel to T.J. Graham on a third-and-9 play from the Baltimore 40-yard line, setting the Bills up at the Ravens’ 14. The drive stalled when on third and 3 from the Baltimore 7, Manuel was sacked by Terrell Suggs.

The Bills’ next drive also stalled when Manuel scrambled on a third-and-7 play from the Baltimore 14-yard line, sliding down 2 yards short of the first down.  After missing his first field goal of the season, Carpenter has now made nine straight.

Williams with the pick: Cornerback-turned-safety-turned-back-to-cornerback Aaron Williams set the Bills up with a short field by intercepting Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Williams made the interception – his first of the season and only the second of his career – at the Baltimore 31-yard line, returning it to the Ravens’ 25.

Slow start: The Ravens put themselves in a hole to start the game by taking back-to-back penalties before even running a play from scrimmage. Left guard Kelechi Osemele was called for a facemask, and running back Ray Rice was whistled for a false start.

Robey takes a hit: Bills cornerback Nickell Robey was briefly looked at by head trainer Bud Carpenter after colliding with Williams on the interception play. Robey, though, was able to return to the game.


Aaron Williams | Dan Carpenter | EJ Manuel | Nickell Robey | T.J. Graham
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |