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Game ball: Buccaneers 27, Bills 6

Points after: Falcons 34, Bills 31 OT

81172 McCoy Sports Bills  2

By Tim Graham

TORONTO -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' demoralizing loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Rogers Centre ...

What it means: The Bills, trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but allowed the Falcons to tie the game at 17 by halftime. The Bills led 31-24 in the fourth quarter, but let the Falcons tie it again and then fumbled away the victory in the closing seconds. With a Miami Dolphins victory over the New York Jets today, the Bills are in last place and two games out of second place in the AFC East.

Play of the game: Stevie Johnson caught a third-down pass for what would have put the Bills within Dan Carpenter's field-goal range, but he fumbled at the Falcons' 30-yard line with 10 seconds left in regulation time. Without that fumble, tight end Scott Chandler wouldn't have fumbled on the first overtime possession.

Bills player of the game: Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford, showed up to the game in a Fred Jackson uniform, and Jackson lived up to the endorsement. Jackson scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown for only the second time in his career. The first time was in 2010 against the Detroit Lions. Jackson gained 78 yards from scrimmage.

Spiller strikes: C.J. Spiller made a pair of gargantuan runs. On the Bills' second play from scrimmage, he ran 77 yards to set up a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he scampered 36 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Spiller finished with a season-high 149 rushing yards.

Falcons player of the game: Ankle and hamstring injuries have made Roddy White's season a colossal disappointment. His best game had been four receptions for 45 yards. Versus the Bills he caught 10 passes for 143 yards and midway through the third quarter accounted for 101 of Matt Ryan's 179 passing yards.

Turning point of the game: Kiko Alonso got off to a hot start with five takeaways in his first four pro games, but he didn't have another until today. With the Falcons seemingly seizing control of the game in the third quarter, Alonso recovered a botched snap. One play later, Jackson scored on a 21-yard catch-and run to tie the game at 24.

Sack attack: The Bills sacked Ryan six times, thrice on third down to force a punt. Jerry Hughes notched two sacks. Manny Lawson, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Corbin Bryant had one apiece.

Preliminary injury report: Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore needed assistance on the field with about 9:30 left in the third quarter because of a cramp and came out of the game long enough for replacement Ron Brooks to get beat by Tony Gonzalez for a touchdown. Gilmore returned to action. ... Linebacker Arthur Moats left the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.

Coming up: The Bills will travel three times in their final four games, including two straight in Florida. They will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Dec. 15.

First-quarter analysis: EJ Manuel bounces back from big hit, has Bills up

By Jay Skurski

TORONTO -- Exhale, Bills fans.

Quarterback EJ Manuel looks to be fine after briefly leaving today’s game against the Atlanta Falcons in the Rogers Centre.

Manuel missed one play after being drilled by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon during Buffalo’s second offensive possession. Backup Thad Lewis handed off, then Manuel returned to lead a nine-play, 59-yard drive. Manuel has directed two scoring drives for the Bills so far, giving his team a 14-7 lead.

He finished Buffalo’s first drive with his firs career rushing touchdown – a 1-yard run on which he dove for the pylon in the front-right corner of the end zone, hitting it with the ball. Manuel was initially ruled out of bounds, but the play was reviewed and overturned.

On Buffalo’s second offensive possession, Manuel connected with Stevie Johnson twice on third-and-1 plays for first down. Fred Jackson finished the drive off with a 4-yard touchdown run, dragging three defenders in with him.

Run, C.J., run: Bills running back C.J. Spiller’s first carry went for just 2 yards. He did just a little better on the next one. Spiller ripped off a 77-yard run – the longest of his career – on Buffalo’s second offensive play, setting up a first-and-goal at the Atlanta 6-yard line.

Sack party: The Falcons lost 5 yards on their first two possessions – each of which ended with Buffalo sacks. On Atlanta’s third offensive play, quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked by linebacker Manny Lawson, who was untouched coming off the right side of the Bills’ defensive line. On the Falcons’s next possession, Ryan was dropped again on third down, this time by Bills linebacker Jerry Hughes.

Where’s everybody at: The capacity for today’s game in the Rogers Centre is 46,470. There was about a quarter of that in the stands for the 4:05 p.m. kickoff. The stands have slowly filled in – there were apparently massive lines outside the stadium – but it would be a shock if more than 30,000 people are in attendance today.

Mario Williams on injury report; C.J. Spiller's return probable

By Tim Graham

Amid today's quarterback talk, Buffalo Bills pass-rusher Mario Williams slipped onto the injury report.

Williams is considered probable for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a hip injury.

Bills coach Doug Marrone also announced today running back C.J. Spiller is probable after being held out of last week's loss to the New Orleans Saints with an ankle injury.

Out

  • Quarterback EJ Manuel (knee)

Doubtful

  • Quarterback Thad Lewis (ribs)

Questionable

  • Wide receiver Chris Hogan (back)

Probable

  • Running back Fred Jackson (knee)
  • Running back C.J. Spiller (ankle)
  • Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (hip)
  • Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (elbow)
  • Right guard Kraig Urbik (knee)
  • Defensive end Mario Williams (hip)
  • Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (Achilles)
  • Linebacker Manny Lawson (hamstring)

C.J. Spiller likely to play Sunday; QB starter still uncertain

By Jay Skurski

Barring a setback in the next couple days, running back C.J. Spiller will return to the Buffalo Bills' lineup Sunday against Kansas City.

"I feel good about C.J. playing," coach Doug Marrone said. "In talking with him, without any setbacks, we feel he'll be ready to go."

Marrone said the decision to rest Spiller last week accomplished what the team hoped it would in healing the high-ankle sprain he's dealing with.

As for the quarterbacks, Thad Lewis missed a second straight practice and remains "50-50" to play Sunday.

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller likely to play Sunday; QB starter still uncertain" »

C.J. Spiller dealing with high-ankle sprain

By Jay Skurski

The Buffalo Bills finally made the decision Sunday to rest running back C.J. Spiller.

A day later, it became a little more clear as to why.

Spiller is suffering from a high-ankle sprain, coach Doug Marrone told reporters.

"It's like a spot that's sore," Marrone said. "It is a high ankle, which normally is a bit worse than the other ones."

Spiller was first injured in Week Four against Baltimore. He played sparingly the next three weeks, but Marrone indicated last week the team may need to sit Spiller in an effort to get him back to 100 percent. That happened Sunday.

Continue reading "C.J. Spiller dealing with high-ankle sprain" »

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" »

Points after: Saints 35, Bills 17

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By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome ...

What it means: The Bills are 3-5 with a to-be-expected result against one of the NFL's supreme teams and in one of the toughest stadiums to play. Thad Lewis turned in another gritty performance, withstanding several shots, but his production was pedestrian.

Player of the game: Drew Brees seemed to have a shaky first half, yet went into halftime with three touchdown passes, a 149.2 passer rating and an 11-point lead. He finished 26 of 34 for 332 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

Bills MVP: Fred Jackson was reliable again. Without backfield mate C.J. Spiller, Jackson carried the offense as far as he could. Jackson ran 15 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. He had all but 3 of those yards in the first quarter because the Bills were playing from behind. He added two catches for 8 yards.

Bills play of the game: Stevie Johnson capped a fine second-half drive with a leaping grab in the end zone. Johnson had four catches for 42 yards on the series. His touchdown was from 13 yards out.

Preliminary injury report: The Bills deactivated Spiller to help him overcome his nagging left ankle injury and linebacker Manny Lawson. ... Johnson hobbled off the field in the second quarter with an apparent left groin injury. He returned later on the same drive, but came out again in the third quarter and was limited for the rest of the game. ... Running back Tashard Choice had a left leg injury checked out in the fourth quarter and was cleared to play. ... Receiver Marquise Goodwin hurt his left elbow in the fourth quarter and was carted to the locker room.

Coming up: The Bills return home next Sunday to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Bills scratch C.J. Spiller; Saints give Jimmy Graham green light

By Tim Graham

NEW ORLEANS -- Bad news for the Buffalo Bills.

The New Orleans Saints will have tight end Jimmy Graham in their offense today in the Superdome.

Graham, among the NFL's most dangerous players and a favorite target for quarterback Drew Brees, had missed practice time this week because of a foot injury. Even if Graham is limited today, he will give the Bills' defense something to think about.

The Bills, as expected, have scratched running back C.J. Spiller to help him get over a nagging ankle injury.

Here are all of the inactives:

Buffalo Bills

  • Quarterback EJ Manuel
  • Quarterback Matt Flynn
  • Running back C.J. Spiller
  • Offensive lineman Antoine McClain
  • Linebacker Manny Lawson
  • Linebacker Ty Powell
  • Cornerback Justin Rogers

New Orleans Saints

  • Quarterback Ryan Griffin
  • Running back Mark Ingram
  • Running back Travaris Cadet
  • Tackle Terron Armstead
  • Defensive end Tyrunn Walker
  • Cornerback Rod Sweeting
  • Safety Roman Harper

Manny Lawson, C.J. Spiller sit out practice

By Jay Skurski

The chances of linebacker Manny Lawson and running back C.J. Spiller playing Sunday against the New Orleans Saints took a hit today as both players missed practice.

Bills coach Doug Marrone said Lawson suffered a setback on Wednesday in his rehab of a hamstring injury, while Spiller continues to nurse a sprained left ankle.

"I said yesterday I really felt good and then we had a setback ... so it's going to be a day-to-day thing,” Marrone said of Lawson. "So that was not the best of news."

Spiller worked off to the side with trainers during the portion of practice that was open to the media.

Quarterback EJ Manuel was the other player to sit out practice for the Bills.

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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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