Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Third-quarter analysis: Kiko Alonso's fumble recovery sets up score

By Jay Skurski    

TORONTO -- Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso caem through with a huge play today just when the Buffalo Bills' defense needed it most. 

Alonso recovered a fumble by Atlanta running back Steven Jackson, giving the Bills the ball at the Falcons' 21-yard line.

On the next play, running back Fred Jackson took a short completion of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel to the end zone, tying the game at 24 after Dan Carpenter's extra point. To that point, Buffalo had run only seven offensive plays in third quarter, and managed just one first down.

The Falcons had taken their first lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to tight end Tony Gonzalez. That completed a 10-play, 56-yard drive.

Three and out: The Bills started the second half the way they ended the first, with a three and out on their first possession of the third quarter. Manuel attempted to find tight end Scott Chandler on a third-and-7 play, but the ball was knocked away by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Gilmore gets burned: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore continues to struggle for the Bills. Gilmore was beaten by Atlanta receiver Harry Douglas for a 13-yard gain on a play that looked like it was going to be a touchdown, but was reversed after a replay review. Douglas beat Gilmore inside, then bounced off a hit from safety Jairus Byrd before diving for the goal line. Earlier in the quarter, Gilmore took an illegal-use-of-hands penalty, giving Atlanta a first down when it would have been third and 14.

Stats watch: The Bills held the ball for only 3:52 in that quarter, compared to 11:08 for Atlanta. The Falcons went 4 of 5 on third down, while the Bills were 0 for 3.

Game ball: Bills 37, Jets 14

Points after: Bills 37, Jets 14

6556026  McCoy Sports Bills

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' decisive victory over the New York Jets in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills snapped a three-game losing streak and avenged an ugly Week Three loss to the Jets. The Bills still are in the AFC East basement at 4-7, but they have to feel good about how they played. Bills rookie EJ Manuel returns to "future franchise quarterback" material (for the time being, anyway) with a strong bounce-back performance.

Players of the game: Bills safety Jairus Byrd and defensive tackle Kyle Williams were studs. Byrd had a sack and two interceptions. He dropped Geno Smith on a third-and-3 play in the second quarter to forcing a punt and grabbed an interception for the second straight week to set up a field goal right before halftime. He picked off another in the third quarter. Williams had two sacks in the first half and forced a fumble to set up a touchdown.

Manuel transmission: Geno Smith won the rookie QB showdown in the first game, but Manuel was far superior today. Manuel was 20 of 28 for 245 yards and two TDs with no interceptions. Smith completed eight of his 23 yards for 103 yards and no TDs with three interceptions and a lost fumble. Matt Simms replaced Smith with 12:55 left in the game.

Play of the game: After the Jets scored their first touchdown to make it 20-7 in the third quarter, Manuel responded with a 43-yard strike to Marquise Goodwin and put the Jets back in their place.

Milestone TD: Bills fullback Frank Summers, playing in his 13th NFL game since he got drafted in 2009, scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter. It was the first TD of his career.

Preliminary injury report: Fred Jackson writhed on the ground 2:27 into the second half with an apparent left knee injury. He returned to the game on the next series. ... Defensive tackle Kyle Williams went to the locker room with 7:18 left in the third quarter but came back quickly after getting retaped.

Coming up: The Bills are on their bye week. They will return to action Dec. 1 against the Atlanta Falcons in Toronto.

Third-quarter analysis: Bills dial up the deep ball

By Jay Skurski

If the rest of this Buffalo Bills season is about looking for improvement out of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, the third quarter today at Ralph Wilson Stadium would be a good place to start.

Manuel hit consecutive deep passes to T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin, covering 83 yards in just two plays to give the Bills a 27-7 lead at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Manuel first hit Graham down the left sideline after the receiver beat rookie Dee Milliner in coverage. The play was reviewed after the Jets challenged whether Graham was in bounds, and was upheld.

On the next play, Goodwin smoked Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie down the right sideline and hauled in a 43-yard touchdown catch. The drive lasted all of 27 seconds.

Pick six: The Bills went ahead, 34-7, on a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by safety Da'Norris Searcy. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has turned the ball over four times, losing one fumble and throwing three interceptions.

Still Byrd watching: Safety Jairus Byrd is having the type of game that shows why he's one of the best players in the NFL at his position. Byrd again read Smith perfectly, and picked him off for the second time. Near the end of the quarter, Byrd came in on a safety blitz and labled Smith a split second after he threw the ball.

Fred down, then back up: Bills running back Fred Jackson provided a temporary scare early in the third quarter when he was hit on the left knee by Jets safety Dawan Landry. Jackson stayed down after the hit, and was attended to by the team's training staff. He walked to the sideline under his own power, however, and returned to the game later in the quarter.

Second-quarter analysis: Bills put 'Shout' song on replay

By Jay Skurski

Just about everything that could go right did for the Buffalo Bills in the second quarter today against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Hit two field goals of 40 or more yards in a brutal wind? Check.

Complete a long touchdown pass from EJ Manuel to T.J. Graham? Check.

Force a turnover, then punch it in for another TD? Check times three.

As a result, the Bills hold a 20-0 halftime lead. The Bills scored on every possession in the second quarter, starting with a 40-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter. After forcing a three and out by New York, the Bills put together one of their best drives of the season, a 13-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Graham.

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams then recorded his second sack of the game, forcing a fumble in the process that was recovered by linebacker Manny Lawson. The Bills scored two plays later on a 2-yard touchdown run by fullback Frank Summers.

Sneak!: Fans and media members alike (especially WGR's Jeremy White) have often wondered why the Bills don't sneak the ball more when needing a yard for a first down. Buffalo did it twice in the second quarter, each time with success. The first one came on a third-and-1 play from the Buffalo 44, when Manuel rushed for 3 yards. The second sneak by Manuel came on a fourth-and-1 play from the Jets' 33-yard line on the same drive. The play was set up after Jets defensive end Leger Louzable jumped offside on a fourth-and-6 play on which the Bills had Brian Moorman out to punt.

Byrd watching: Safety Jairus Byrd was all over the field for the Bills in the second quarter. Byrd sacked Smith for a 9-yard loss early in the quarter, then later intercepted the Jets' rookie quarterback. That set up a 42-yard field goal by Carpenter that pushed the Bills' lead to 20-0.

Career high: Williams' two sacks today gives him seven on the season, a new career high. 

Bills secondary notably stronger for Jets rematch

By Tim Graham

The last time he played the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith had a pleasant afternoon.

Although Smith threw a pair of interceptions, he passed for 331 yards (merely 39 yards short of the series record despite just 16 completions) and two touchdowns. Smith ran for a touchdown, too. The Bills couldn't sack him.

The Bills should look different to Smith on Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Bills were missing two vital members of their secondary in Week Three. They'll have cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd for the rematch.

"Byrd is a ball-hawking safety, Pro Bowl-type safety," Smith said Wednesday. "They play a ton of man. So having Gilmore back, their starting corner, obviously makes them a better defense.

"And they've been pretty stout up front. So just having a chance to have those guys back gives them, I think, better guys in that secondary, which really helps their defense out because that's the style that they play."

Buffalo starting cornerbacks at the Meadowlands were Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers. McKelvin hurt his hamstring on the opening drive. That forced starting safety Aaron Williams to switch to cornerback.

"So they've got three guys that are different than what we faced the last game," Jets coach Rex Ryan said.

Byrd grabbed his first interception of the season -- and the Bills' first takeaway in three games -- Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Gilmore has been extraordinarily busy the past two weeks.

ProFootballFocus.com data shows the Kansas City Chiefs targeted him 12 times and the Steelers targeted him 11 times. They completed 65.1 percent of their passes for 167 yards (59 after the catch) and a touchdown and a 101.2 passer rating.

Jets receiver Jeremy Kerley is expected to be out with a bum elbow, but Santonio Holmes (five catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in Week Three) practiced fully Wednesday and should play after missing five games with a hamstring injury.

Tight end Kellen Winslow (no catches in Week Three) is returning from a four-game performance-enhancing-drug suspension. Tight end Zach Sudfeld has been added since the last meeting and has four catches for 56 yards the past two weeks.

"They're getting guys back on their defense with Byrd and Gilmore," Smith said. "So it's definitely going to be another challenge for us, but we can create matchups with having Kellen and Jeff [Cumberland] and even Zach and then Tone, Stephen [Hill], all the guys that we are accustomed to having.

"They can make plays for us and it just gives us a better chance, I think."

Game ball: Steelers 23, Bills 10

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.

Despite scrawny numbers, Bills wary of Dwayne Bowe

By Tim Graham

The numbers certainly don't look dangerous.

The player is.

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe hasn't made much of a statistical impact this year. But he remains a significant concern for the Buffalo Bills' defensive backfield Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Sometimes they can lull you to sleep if they're not really throwing him the ball," Bills safety Jairus Byrd said. "He's just there, and then all of the sudden he gets hot, and he can go up and make some pretty big plays."

Continue reading "Despite scrawny numbers, Bills wary of Dwayne Bowe" »

Jairus Byrd says he hasn't given upcoming trade deadline much thought

By Jay Skurski

Bills safety Jairus Byrd's name has been a popular one floated in trade rumors seemingly from the time he reported to the team over the summer.

With the trade deadline in the NFL arriving at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Byrd was asked today whether he had an expectation of what might happen.

"No, not really. I haven't really given it too much thought," he said. "I mean, I'm focused on winning games here. If something happens, it happens, but right now my focus is with my teammates here and just trying to win games."

Byrd is coming off his most extensive playing time of the season in Sunday's 35-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He was in on 90 percent of the defensive snaps (63 of 70), registering three tackles and one pass defensed.

Continue reading "Jairus Byrd says he hasn't given upcoming trade deadline much thought" »

« Older Entries
Advertisement

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

Subscribe

Advertisement