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First-quarter analysis: Jairus Byrd shows he's back

By Jay Skurski

Bills coach Doug Marrone has talked recently about safety Jairus Byrd being close to making a big play.

The breakthrough came in the first quarter today at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Byrd made a terrific interception of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a pass intended for Markus Wheaton. Byrd was playing "Cover One" as the lone deep safety and perfectly read the play down the right sideline, returning the interception 57 yards to the Pittsburgh 29-yard line. 

The Bills weren't able to punch it in with the short field, however, settling for a 20-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter when they were stopped a yard short of the end zone after having first and goal. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel threw incomplete of a fade pattern intended for Stevie Johnson on third down.

The Bills entered the game 31st in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage, converting just 42 percent of the time.

Tough start: Second-year cornerback Stephon Gilmore has struggled at times this season since coming back from a broken wrist. Gilmore took a holding penalty on the Steelers' first drive, then was beaten on third down by Pittsbrugh receiver Jerricho Cotchery. To make matters worse, Gilmore blew the tackle, allowing Cotchery to run for 26 yards.

Tough start II: Manuel's first start back after missing four games because of a knee injury has not been pretty so far. Manuel is 2 of 5 for just 9 yards. He has rushed once for 8 yards, picking up a first down in the process. And yes, Manuel slid at the end of the play to avoid taking a hit. 

Good drive starts: The Bills started three drives in the first quarter from the Pittsburgh 29, the Pittsburgh 44 and their own 44. They have just a 3-0 lead to show for it, however, after going three and out on their final two possessions of the first quarter.

tagged

Dan Carpenter | EJ Manuel | Jairus Byrd | Stephon Gilmore | Stevie Johnson
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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 | tgraham@buffnews.com


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 | mgaughan@buffnews.com


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 | jskurski@buffnews.com

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