Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Points after: Bills 24, Panthers 23

Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin breaks up a pass intended for Carolina's Steve Smith. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' thrilling victory over the Carolina Panthers in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: The Bills were staring at an 0-2 start but came back to even their record. The Bills lost to the New England Patriots by one point on opening day and could be 2-0 with a bounce or two. There's a lot to feel good about.

Bills player of the game: Mario Williams was a boss. He set a Bills record and a new career-high with 4.5 sacks, three of them in the first half. Williams' previous personal-best was 3.5 sacks for the Texans in December 2007. Bruce Smith had four sacks for the Bills twice, Cornelius Bennett once.


Panthers player of the game: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 21 of his 38 throws for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including a gorgeous, 40-yard strike to Ted Ginn in the end zone. Newton also kept several plays alive with his feet and ran for 15 yards.

Turbulent second half for the rookie: EJ Manuel committed two turnovers in a three-play span in the second half. Two plays after his first lost fumble, he threw his first interception. Carolina turned each short-field giveaway into a field goal. But Manuel led the Bills on a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 96 seconds. He finished 27 of 39 for 296 yards and a touchdown.

Plays of the game: The Panthers appeared to seal the game with safety Colin Jones' interception with 21 seconds to play. But Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was called for pass interference, and the Bills kept the ball. Two snaps later, Manuel threw a 2-yard TD toss to Stevie Johnson for the victory. 

Preliminary injury report: Buffalo made it through without any injuries significant enough for a press-box announcement. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus appeared to have a right knee issue in the first quarter but soon returned. ... A grenade went off in Carolina's secondary. It lost cornerback Josh Thomas (University at Buffalo) and safeties Charles Godfrey and Quintin Mikell. Carolina cornerback Charles Norman also missed time in the third quarter.

Coming up: The Bills will play their first road game next Sunday against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands.

Points after: Patriots 23, Bills 21

Tom Brady and the Patriots rallied in the closing minutes. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel played a clean game, and the Bills' defense capitalized on some fortunate bounces to nearly propel them past the heavily favored defending AFC East champions.

Bills star of the game: With running back C.J. Spiller struggling to gain yards, Fred Jackson became the featured offensive player. He finished with 13 carries for 67 yards and four catches for 41 yards.

Patriots star of the game: Wide receiver Danny Amendola made several clutch receptions and kept the chains moving. He finished with 10 catches for 104 yards.

Play of the game: Patriots running Stevan Ridley fumbled while making a cut but wasn't touched. Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy picked up the ball and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown with 8:25 left in the second quarter.

Swing moment of the game: With barely more than a minute left in the first half and the Bills down by 10 points, cornerback Justin Rogers made a fantastic interception at the Patriots' 37-yard line on a Tom Brady pass intended for tight end Zach Sudfeld. Two plays later, Manuel threw his first NFL touchdown and Robert Woods caught his first NFL touchdown. Then the Bills scored on the first possession of the second half -- Manuel to Stevie Johnson -- for a 21-17 lead they very nearly held onto.

Stat line of the game: Manuel completed 18 of his 27 throws for 150 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in his NFL debut. He also ran three times for 23 yards.

Stat line of the game II: The Bills' first quarter consisted of 38 yards of offense, a fumble, a near-interception and four penalties for 35 yards.

Penalties a problem: The Bills committed 13 penalties. Ten of them were accepted for losses of 75 yards.

Preliminary injury report: Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin left right before halftime with a hand injury and did not return. ... Searcy missed much of the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

Coming up: The Bills will host the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. next Sunday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Points after: Lions 35, Bills 13

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' exhibition loss to Detroit Lions tonight in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: On one hand, nothing. It's the preseason. But getting outscored 65-13 over a seven-quarter span could mean a little something. The Bills are trying to change a culture of losing, and with several depth players in the spotlight and fighting for jobs, few showed any life.

Matt Leinart does little: The Heisman Trophy winner looked like a quarterback who didn't know the offense. Because he didn't. He signed with the Bills four days ago. But I'm certain he hoped for better than three completions on 10 attempts for 11 yards and two interceptions that each led to a Lions touchdown one play later. He also was sacked once. His career could be over.

Down on the corners: Buffalo's cornerbacks were atrocious, leading to some gaudy stats for Detroit backups Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore. Matthew Stafford was plagued by overthrows and dropped passes, or else the score would have been more lopsided. T.J. Heath and Crezdon Butler had particularly rough performances, allowing big plays and committing penalties.

Bills star of the game: Thad Lewis didn't look too shabby for someone who just showed up. With limited knowledge of the playbook, he scrambled on just about every play. He completed seven of 16 passes for 132 yards and a long touchdown with no interceptions. He ran seven times for 51 yards.

Play of the game: Midway through the fourth quarter, wide receiver Marcus Easley got a step on a defender up the right sideline. Lewis hit Easley in stride for a 79-yard touchdown.

Unfair night for receivers: One of the most interesting battles was at wide receiver. Easley, Brad Smith, Chris Hogan and Brandon Kaufman needed opportunities, but with a pair of backup quarterbacks, there weren't many quality throws to go around. With eight minutes left in the game, Bills wide receivers had three catches for 12 yards.

Injury report: Rookie receiver Marquise Godwin left at the end of the first quarter and didn't return after getting poked in the eye. ... Hogan was hurt on the second-half kickoff. He remained down before walking off with a limp but returned to the game. ... Smith was in the locker room having his ribs checked out in the third quarter. ... Left guard Doug Legursky was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an apparent left knee injury.

Penalty rundown: The Bills had trouble with penalties throughout the preseason. They had nine for 74 yards against the Indianapolis Colts, 14 for 106 yards against the Minnesota Vkings, seven for 38 yards against Washington and nine for 60 yards tonight.

Coming up: The Bills open their regular-season schedule Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Points after: Redskins 30, Bills 7

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' harrowing loss to Washington today at FedEx Field ...

What it means: This game was quintessentially queasy for those who think the objective for any preseason exhibition is to escape without any serious injuries. The Bills lost quarterback Kevin Kolb (head), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and safety Da'Norris Searcy (head) in the first half. C.J. Spiller (knee) went down in the first quarter but returned.

Bills star of the game: Spiller was a surprise starter after the tragic report involving his step-grandfather this morning. We're unsure as of this posting if Spiller knew about it. Spiller might've sat out, but he didn't. He also could've declined to return after his knee scare, but he didn't. Spiller ran eight times for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Stat line of the day: It's not a glittery set of numbers, but they're interesting. Jeff Tuel wasn't supposed to play so much, but with Kolb knocked out of the game, Tuel saw three quarters and went 10 of 17 for 63 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Receivers impacted: With the Bills not throwing much (probably out of caution to not get Tuel hurt), the receiver competition didn't crystallize. Only 12 catches were made. Stevie Johnson had a team-high four catches for 28 yards. Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley and Da'Rick Rogers had zero receptions.

Defense struggles against backup QBs: Washington was without Robert Griffin III and second-stringer Kirk Cousins. Rex Grossman and Pat White combined to go 18 of 35 for 267 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. White also ran three times for 26 yards and a touchdown.

Penalties improve: This was one of Doug Marrone's main points of emphasis. The Bills committed nine penalties in their preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts and 14 last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Today, they were charged with seven for 38 yards.

Coming up: The Bills close out their preseason schedule Thursday night against the Detroit Lions in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Points after: Bills 20, Vikings 16

By Tim Graham

Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' victory over the Minnesota Vikings tonight in Ralph Wilson Stadium ...

What it means: Kevin Kolb wasted a precious opportunity to impress the coaching staff. He started the game and completed just three of his first eight passes with an interception. Kolb finished 13 of 21 for 111 yards and no touchdowns.

Bills star of the game: Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes, starting for Mario Williams on the right side, sacked Christian Ponder on the game's first snap and added a strip-sack of Matt Cassel in the second quarter.

Stat line of the day: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel completed all six of his passes for 44 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown toss to Brad Smith, on his first drive to start the second half.

Dirty laundry: Bills coach Doug Marrone was upset when his players committed nine penalties for 74 yards in their first preseason game. The Bills had nine penalties by halftime tonight and finished with 14 accepted for 106 yards.

Kicker duel: Sixth-round pick Dustin Hopkins again took the first kicks. Hopkins made field goals from 39 and 35 yards. Rian Lindell didn't get any attempts in the second half and kicked off once. ... Punter Shawn Powell, who apparently won the job when the Bills cut Brian Stahovich a few days ago, shanked his first punt 19 yards out of bounds.

Preliminary injury report: Wide receiver Kevin Elliott was carted to the locker room in the second quarter with an apparent left leg injury.

Coming up: Buffalo will visit Washington at 4:30 p.m. next Saturday.

Points after: Bills 44, Colts 20

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' entertaining preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Lucas Oil Stadium ...

What it means: EJ Manuel's development as an NFL quarterback continued with a solid afternoon. He had his ups and downs, but finished his two quarters of work by giving the Bills a halftime lead. It was a solid, confidence-building afternoon. ... The Bills set a club preseason scoring record with help from defensive and special-teams touchdowns.

Bills star of the game: Undrafted rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel completed his first nine passes and 14 of his first 16. Tuel finished 19 of 23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Play of the day: Quicksilver rookie Marquise Goodwin left a vapor trail when he returned a kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 13 in the second quarter.

Cameo of the day: Bills running back C.J. Spiller had four carries for 36 yards. He left the game early in the first quarter.

Mario engulfs Luck: Mario Williams' foot must be OK. On one of his two series, the Bills pass-rusher breezed past hapless left tackle Anthony Costanzo and enveloped Andrew Luck for a 10-yard loss.

Stat line of the day: Manuel completed all nine of his throws for 68 yards and a touchdown in guiding the Bills on a 10-play, 92-yard drive inside the final two minutes of the first half. The Colts' defense was comprised of third-stringers at the time, but the drive had to feel good for the rookie.

Rookie gets first kicks: Veterans usually have honors, but rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins took the first half and Rian Lindell the second. Hopkins made field goals from 24 and 23 yards, but had one kickoff go out of bounds. Lindell made a 30-yard field goal.

Preliminary injury report: The Colts' training staff seemed to run out onto the field every few minutes, but the only stoppage for a Bills player was offensive lineman Thomas Welch in the fourth quarter. No update on Welch yet.

Coming up: The Bills will play the Minnesota Vikings at 7 p.m. Friday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Newer Entries »

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 |