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Big month earns Kiko Alonso NFL defensive rookie honor

By Tim Graham

Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso's hot start has earned him the NFL's defensive rookie of the month award for September.

Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins took the offensive award.

Alonso enters tonight's game against the Cleveland Browns on a three-game interception streak. He has 32 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and four interceptions.

He's only the fourth linebacker in NFL history to have four interceptions in the month of September, joining Chuck Howley in 1968, John Anderson in 1978 and Jack Lambert in 1979.

Kiko Alonso reminds Bills CEO of London Fletcher, Takeo Spikes

By Tim Graham

Kiko Alonso's career is four NFL games old.

This morning, Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon compared the rookie to a pair of linebackers who've played 463 games.

On Brandon's weekly WGR radio show, host Howard Simon asked Brandon to fill in a blank: Alonso is the best Bills linebacker since ...

Continue reading "Kiko Alonso reminds Bills CEO of London Fletcher, Takeo Spikes" »

Kiko Alonso making early case for defensive rookie of the year

By Tim Graham

When the Buffalo Bills drafted Kiko Alonso in April, it wasn't for his interview skills.

Alonso is a man of few words, as national media outlets have learned the past few days.

But he's a man of big plays so far in his young NFL career.

Alonso leads the Bills with four interceptions, including two mammoth ones in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Alonso became the first rookie linebacker to have at least one interception in three straight games since Al Richardson did it for the Atlanta Falcons in 1980.

Alonso leads the Bills with 32 tackles. He has one sack, a forced fumble and a recovery.

Continue reading "Kiko Alonso making early case for defensive rookie of the year" »

Game ball: Bills 23, Ravens 20

Points after: Bills 23, Ravens 20


By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' bounce-back victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills are 2-2 and unbeaten outside the AFC East after upsetting the defending Super Bowl champs.

Player of the game: Starting at cornerback for the first time since last season, erstwhile safety Aaron Williams had his first two-interception game and broke up a couple more long passes. Williams left the game with an apparent shoulder injury in the second quarter but returned, then departed for good in the fourth quarter with a lower-back injury.

Play of the game: With 57 seconds to play and the Bills hanging on by their fingernails, middle linebacker Kiko Alonso got his fingers around a ball batted by safety Da'Norris Searcy. Alonso secured an interception at the Bills' 41-yard line to cement the victory.

Jackson reaches milestone: With running back C.J. Spiller hampered by another injury, Fred Jackson was his usual, reliable self. Jackson rushed 16 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. He surpassed Joe Cribbs for third place on the Bills' all-time list behind Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson.

Stat line of the game: Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco was 25 of 50 for 347 yards and two touchdowns but a career-worst five interceptions.

Alonso all over: Alonso became the first rookie linebacker in Bills history to snag an interception in three straight games. He's only the third Bills rookie linebacker with three in a season, joining Stew Barber in 1961 and Mike Stratton in 1962.

Stevie nearly snuffed: Bills receiver Stevie Johnson entered today's game with a 51-game reception streak, fourth-longest in club history. Johnson had one catch for minus-1 yard. But he also made a colossal play by recovering an EJ Manuel fumble deep in Buffalo territory right before the two-minute warning.

Preliminary injury report: Aaron Williams fell hard on his right shoulder while breaking up a long pass early in the second quarter. He went to the locker room early before halftime, played much of the second half but left the game again in the fourth quarter with a lower-back injury. ... Wide receiver and special-teamer Marcus Easley was sidelined in the second quarter with an apparent left ankle or foot injury but returned later in the quarter. ... A knee injury sent right guard Kraig Urbik to the locker room with 5:27 left in the first half. Urbik returned in the third quarter. ... Spiller limped off with a left ankle injury on the first possession of the second half, but came back late in the third quarter. ... Jackson removed himself from the game at the goal line with about two minutes left in the third quarter but returned to action.

Coming up: The Bills have the dreaded short week ahead. They will play the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night in FirstEnergy Stadium.

Third-quarter analysis: One rookie good, one very bad

By Jay Skurski

While one rookie continues to struggle, another has made a big play to keep the Buffalo Bills in today’s game.

Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso perfectly read Jets quarterback Geno Smith, intercepting him and returning the ball 32 yards to the New York 13-yard line. Alonso became the first Bills rookie to intercept passes in consecutive games since Jairus Byrd in 2009. 

The Bills’ offense led by rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, however, continues to struggle horribly. After two runs by Fred Jackson on the drive set up by Alonso's interception, Manuel threw out of bounds, intended for T.J. Graham. It was a continutation of a game-long struggle for the Bills' rookie quarterback.

Continue reading "Third-quarter analysis: One rookie good, one very bad" »

First-quarter analysis: Defense can't get off the field

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills’ defense couldn’t get off the field to start today’s game against the New York Jets.

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith led the Jets’ offense on an 80-yard touchdown drive on the first possession of the game, converting third downs of 7, 17 and 3 yards along the way. Smith finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper up the middle. He got a boost over the goal line by Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso, who made a poor play by pushing the Jets’ quarterback into the end zone.

Later in the quarter, the Jets converted a third-and-13 situation.

Continue reading "First-quarter analysis: Defense can't get off the field" »

A quick note about Kiko Alonso's impact on Bills

By Tim Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- How much of an upgrade has Buffalo Bills rookie Kiko Alonso been at middle linebacker?

Alonso leads all NFL rookies with 19 tackles. While impressive, consider that through two games, he already has an interception, a sack, a forced fumble and a recovery.

Alonso's predecessor, Kelvin Sheppard, had two sacks, no interceptions, no forced fumbles and one recovery in 32 games.

Alsonso will make his third career start this afternoon against the New York Jets here at the Meadowlands.

Snap counts: Nigel Bradham gets all of one play against Carolina

By Jay Skurski

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone made sure to let everyone know after the season opener against the New England Patriots that he was pleased with linebacker Nigel Bradham's performance, despite him playing just 19 snaps.

That number was drastically reduced Sunday, as Bradham was on the field for just one defensive snap.

"I really didn't expect that, but it just happened that way," Bradham said today of his playing time. "As the weeks go on, we'll see what happens. Hopefully I get more reps."

Bradham said he had no idea that he would be used so sparingly against the Panthers.

"I've just got to control what I can control and keep focusing on trying to become a better linebacker," he said.

Other items of note from the Bills' snap count numbers against Carolina:

Continue reading "Snap counts: Nigel Bradham gets all of one play against Carolina" »

Third-quarter analysis: Second round looking strong

By Jay Skurski

It’s early, but it’s looking like the Buffalo Bills may have hit a pair of home runs in the second round of this year’s draft with linebacker Kiko Alonso and wide receiver Robert Woods.

Woods stepped up after halftime for the Bills, making a pair of catches that covered 43 yards on the team’s opening drive of the third quarter, helping to set up a field goal. Later in the quarter, Woods made a terrific catch to complete a two-point conversion following Fred Jackson’s touchdown. That tied the game at 14-14.

Costly flag: The Bills have had plenty of issues with penalties this season, but the costliest flag so far may have been the one issued to fullback Frank Summers in the third quarter. Summers was called for defensive holding before a Carolina punt, giving the Panthers an automatic first down. Four plays later, Cam Newton connected on a 40-yard bomb with Ted Ginn Jr. for a touchdown.

Injury issues: The Panthers have been hit hard by injuries in the secondary. Cornerback Josh Thomas suffered a concussion in the second quarter, then the Panthers lost cornerback Josh Norman and safeties Charles Godfrey and Quintin Mikell in the third quarter. Mikell later returned to the game.

First turnover: Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel's first career turnover came late in the third quarter. Manuel was sacked by Mikell, fumbling in the process. The ball was recovered for Carolina by former Bill Dwan Edwards.

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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 |