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First-quarter analysis: A dream start

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills couldn’t have scripted a better start to tonight’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Bills forced a three and out on their first defensive series, got a 25-yard punt return from Jim Leonhard deep into Cleveland territory, then scored a touchdown on their third offensive play – a 1-yard rush by running back Fred Jackson. Buffalo got the ball on the Browns’ 1-yard line after a bit of trickery on their second play. Receiver T.J. Graham threw a deep pass intended for Stevie Johnson in the end zone on a reverse. Johnson was interfered with on the play by the Browns’ top cornerback, Joe Haden, a 29-yard penalty.

On the next play, Jackson dove in for a touchdown just 1:39 into the game.

Hoyer goes down: Cleveland starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was hurt after running just seven plays. Hoyer scrambled for 11 yards on a second-down play on Cleveland’s second possession. At the end of the run, he slid late and was tackled by Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso. Hoyer has a knee injury, and his return is questionable.

Leodis, C.J. active, but don’t start: Cornerback Leodis McKelvin and running back C.J. Spiller both are dressed for the Bills tonight, but neither started. McKelvin did, however, come in for a third-down play on the Bills’ first possession, and has been on the field extensively since. Spiller, however, has been seen for just one play, and does not have any rushes. He appears to be an emergency option for the Bills behind Fred Jackson and Tashard Choice.

Carpenter good from deep: Bills kicker Dan Carpenter is making things interesting. He drilled a 52-yard field goal to give Buffalo a 10-0 lead. After missing his first field goal of the season, he’s made 11 straight. With rookie Dustin Hopkins yet to prove himself because of a groin injury that has kept him out the first five weeks, Carpenter is making a push to at least be considered for the job full time.


C.J. Spiller | Dan Carpenter | Dustin Hopkins | Fred Jackson | Jim Leonhard | Kiko Alonso | Leodis McKelvin | Stevie Johnson | 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 |