It took all of 4 seconds for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to jump ahead of the Buffalo Bills today in Raymond James Stadium.
Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey raced 80 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on Tampa’s second play from scrimmage to give his team a 7-0 lead. Rainey blew past Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso to get into the open field.
It was a career-long run for Rainey, who took over as the starter for the Bucs after season-long injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James.
Bucs hit another big one: Tampa Bay went up, 14-3, on a 38-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to receiver Vincent Jackson. Glennon scrambled right, then heaved a bomb to the end zone that Jackson tracked down despite being interfered with by Bills cornerback Nickell Robey.
Penalty help: A pair of personal foul penalties against Tampa Bay assisted the Bills in the first quarter. The first came against linebacker Dekoda Watson, who ran into punter Brian Moorman. The Bills, however, were not able to capitalize and Moorman punted again four plays later. On Buffalo’s next possession, Bucs linebacker Mason Foster was penalized for hitting defenseless Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. The Bills got a 40-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter on the drive.
Lineup changes: The Bills started rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Gragg at tight end in place of Scott Chandler. Buffalo also benched fullback Frank Summers, making him inactive in favor of Evan Rodriguez.
The last time the Buffalo Bills played the New York Jets, quarterback EJ Manuel targeted Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods 23 times.
Johnson and Woods have been ruled out for Sunday's rematch in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Bills coach Doug Marrone said they would go with their four healthy receivers.
T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan and Marcus Easley will need to pick up the slack. Goodwin is the only one of that group with a touchdown this year. Easley made his first NFL catch last week.
Tight ends Scott Chandler and Chris Gragg will be even more important. Gragg also caught his first NFL passes last Sunday, but one of them was a touchdown.
Johnson leads the Bills with 41 catches, 471 yards and three touchdowns. Woods is second among wide receivers with 26 catches, 349 yards and two touchdowns.
-- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers here
at Heinz Field ...
What it means: The Bills went into the week insisting they
still were in the playoff hunt. We can stop humoring them. They are 3-7 and in
last place in the AFC East.
No Manuel transmission: EJ Manuel returned after a four-game injury absence and looked raggedy. Buffalo's first-round draft pick was 22 of 39 for 155 yards and one touchdown with one interception. His completion percentage (and eventually the 2-yard TD toss to Chris Gragg with three seconds left) was aided by the Steelers' prevent defense late in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell
didn't post a boffo stat line, but he was the most important player in the
Steelers' impressive ball-control game plan. He ran 22 times for 57 yards and a
Bills player of the game: Defensive end Jerry Hughes recorded
a pair of sacks. Each came on third down to force a punt.
Symbolic play of the game: The Bills were down only a
touchdown when the Steelers lined up for a field goal in the third quarter.
Marcell Dareus jumped and was flagged for encroachment, giving the Steelers
first and goal at the 6-yard line. Two plays later, Bell scored his touchdown.
Preliminary injury report: Bills receiver Stevie Johnson
left the game in the fourth quarter with a groin injury. ... Receiver Chris Hogan was shaken up after making a catch late in the fourth quarter and went straight to the locker room. ... The Steelers had
several injuries, including cornerback Shamarko Thomas, left guard Ramon Foster
and linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
Coming up: The Bills will host the New York Jets next Sunday
in Ralph Wilson Stadium and then go on their by week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers played keep away from the Buffalo Bills in the second quarter today at Heinz Field.
The Steelers dominated time of possession,with an 11:42 to 3:18 advantage, opening up a 10-3 halftime lead on the Bills.
Pittsburgh scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery, who once again beat Stephon Gilmore in coverage.
That capped a nine-play, 86-yard drive.
Williams comes through: Kyle Williams came up with a big defensive play for the Bills when he sacked Roethlisberger on a third-and-goal play from the 7-yard line. That forced Pittsburgh to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham.
Still looking: Tight end Chris Gragg is still without a catch for the Buffalo Bills in his rookie season. Gragg had a great chance in the second quarter, but dropped a good throw from rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. The drop negated what would have been a positivef play for the Bills, as Gragg had room to run.
Wind whipping: Suisham's field goal from 36 yards hit a wall of wind, which seems to be swirling. Kicking off in the same direction, Suisham was able to power it through the end zone, negating an opportunity for Marquise Goodwin.
PITTSFORD -- Three times already in training camp, the
Buffalo Bills have expressed dissatisfaction with their tight end depth.
Before the first air horn, they cut Mickey Shuler. The
Bills added Nick Provo on Aug. 4. They waived Mike Caussin on Wednesday.
Rookie tight end Chris Gragg knows he's not supposed to pay
attention, but it's difficult when a player at his position isn't there one day
or a new guy shows up.
"It just shows you that this NFL is a business,"
Gragg said after Wednesday night's practice at St. John Fisher
College. "You try
not to really think about it. You hear about it in the media and Coach tells us
the business of the day, everyday. You just try to focus on your job."
That can be difficult when your father is keeping such close
tabs on roster spots and makes it a point to keep score.
"I try to block it out, just focus on your job at hand,"
Gragg said. "Coach Marrone told us [Tuesday] in the team meeting, when you
think about stuff like that and you're always worried, it can affect your play,
and I just don't want anything to affect my play.
"I think if I put everything good on film, I think I
have a good chance to be on the team."
Gragg's NFL career began well Sunday against the
Indianapolis Colts. He started along with Dorin Dickerson in a two-tight
formation and saw more snaps than any other Bills tight end. Gragg called it
"a great experience."
He took 57 offensive snaps. Provo was next at 32 plays, followed by Lee
Smith with 16 and Dickerson with 15.
Gragg caught two of the four passes thrown his way. His
catches went for 6 and 8 yards. He had one drop.
"I would probably give myself a B," Gragg said. "I
never try to give myself an A. I mean, it was my first game.
"I know I had a pretty good day blocking. I know that's
one of the things my coaches want to see from me, could I block at the NFL
level? I think I did that."
With only four preparation days between games, Gragg is
eager for Friday night's exhibition against the Minnesota Vikings. It'll be his
first game in Ralph Wilson Stadium and a chance to square off against a high
school and college teammate, Vikings receiver Jarius Wright.
The quick turnaround between games provides a healthy
whirlwind for Gragg, who doesn't have enough downtime to dwell on NFL
"You just look at the schedule and know the cut days
are coming close," Gragg said. "That's the only thing. When the cut
days get closer, it might be a little harder. Right now, I'm just getting
prepared for Minnesota."
As focused as Gragg is supposed to be on the here and now,
he admitted he's already looking beyond next Wednesday, the last day of
training camp at St. John Fisher.
"It's been hard, especially my rookie year," Gragg
said. "It's been a long year. From January, I've been living out of
suitcases, getting ready for the combine, getting ready for rookie minicamp and
things like that. ... I'm ready for it all to be over and get settled."
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.
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.
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.