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First-quarter analysis: Marquise Goodwin hits 'turbo boost'

By Jay Skurski

There's a reason they call Marquise Goodwin "Flash."

The Buffalo Bills' rookie receiver showed why during the first quarter today against the Kansas City Chiefs. Goodwin caught a perfectly thrown ball from rookie undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel, who's making his first career start, for a 59-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Goodwin beat press coverage on the play, then simply caught up to the ball that looked like it might have been overthrown when Tuel let it go. It's Goodwin's second touchdown of 40 or more yards this season.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming: Tuel has started the game 5 of 7 for 112 yards and a touchdown. One of the incomplete passes was a drop by tight end Scott Chandler. 

Continue reading "First-quarter analysis: Marquise Goodwin hits 'turbo boost'" »

Source: Thad Lewis' ribs not ready; fresh meat for KC defense

By Tim Graham

Thad Lewis won't be able to play today for the Buffalo Bills, clearing the way for undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel's first NFL start, a league source has informed me.

Tuel's challenge will be a tough one. The Bills play the Kansas City Chiefs in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Chiefs rank fifth in total defense, fourth in pass defense and first in sacks. Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have combined for 20 sacks.

The Bills have allowed 71 quarterback hits, most in the league. The Bills have surrendered 28 sacks. Only three teams have given up more.

Lewis is unavailable because of sore ribs. He abosrbed several big hits in last week's loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

On the line from Vegas: Bills a trap game for Chiefs? Don't bet on it

By Tim Graham

Las Vegas probably should've posted the Buffalo Bills as bigger underdogs this week even if Thad Lewis was healthy, said handicapper and former oddsmaker Joel Staniszewski.

Once the Bills declared Lewis doubtful for Sunday's game against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Ralph Wilson Stadium, laying the points became an even juicier bet.

"It seems a little strange to me that the Bills are only a three-point dog," Staniszewski said. "And that line hasn't really moved all week.

Continue reading "On the line from Vegas: Bills a trap game for Chiefs? Don't bet on it" »

Thad Lewis doubtful for Sunday; Jeff Tuel has edge on Matt Flynn

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills are on the verge of using their third starting quarterback this year.

Bills coach Doug Marrone has declared Thad Lewis doubtful for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The NFL defines "doubtful" as a 25 percent chance to play. That means undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel likely will get his first NFL start Sunday. Marrone said Tuel took "a little more" first-team reps than Matt Flynn this week in practice.

"Both those guys got to be ready to go," Marrone said. "They know the situation."

Continue reading "Thad Lewis doubtful for Sunday; Jeff Tuel has edge on Matt Flynn" »

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" »

Matt Flynn: 'I'd be lying' to pretend vindication not a factor

By Tim Graham

Matt Flynn didn't really verbalize it, but his body language spoke loudly when I asked if he's looking forward to proving people wrong.

Flynn expected to be somebody's lead quarterback by now. Opportunities with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders crashed. Both teams got rid of him.

Now he could be on the verge of starting Sunday for the Buffalo Bills.

Continue reading "Matt Flynn: 'I'd be lying' to pretend vindication not a factor" »

What in the world is going on with the Bills' QB situation?

By Tim Graham

Want to know where things stand with each Buffalo Bills quarterback as of right freaking now?

Read forth ...

EJ Manuel

Update: Practiced today, but limited with injured right knee. ... Bills coach Doug Marrone already has ruled out Manuel for Sunday because doctors haven't cleared him.

Quote: "He looks good out there." -- Marrone

Thad Lewis

Update: Missed practice with rib contusions from multiple hits in Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. ... X-rays negative. ... Also has the flu.

Quote: "Do we want him to play? Yes." -- Marrone

Jeff Tuel

Update: Shared first-team reps in practice today. ... Has been backup quarterback all season, but leapfrogged by Lewis after Manuel got hurt in week 5.

Quote: "I feel better about Jeff right now because I know Jeff. ... The Cleveland game is probably the worst situation you could ever have for him. He's a rookie free agent. We all know that. But we do like what he does, and we like the tools. In a perfect world, we'd love to have him on the practice squad and work with him." -- Marrone

Matt Flynn

Update: Shared first-team reps in practice today. ... Still learning the Bills' offense after being signed two weeks ago. ... Was scratched for both games he has been on the roster.

Quote: "I'm in a competition with myself to learn the playbook and get myself as ready as I can. ... I feel very confident. Schematically, it's a West Coast system. I've been in a West Coast since my rookie year. I'm very comfortable with the football portion of it. To me, football's football. It's just a matter of learning how to call it." -- Flynn

Dennis Dixon

Update: Still on the practice squad. ... No intention to promote him to 53-man roster. ... Marrone confirmed Dixon is not in the competition to play Sunday.

EJ Manuel to 'ramp it up this week,' per Doug Marrone

By Jay Skurski

Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is set to start another phase of his rehab for the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Doug Marrone said today that Manuel "will be working extremely hard this week."

"I can't answer the question, is he going to be practicing or not? You know, I don't want to get into that and have it explode," Marrone said, "but he's going to be working extremely hard. ... He's going to ramp it up this week."

Marrone conceded that meant Manuel was at least getting closer to a return to practice.

Continue reading "EJ Manuel to 'ramp it up this week,' per Doug Marrone" »

Points after: Saints 35, Bills 17

Bills Saints Football.JPE#2

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.

Second-quarter analysis: Stevie steps up, but defense can't keep up

By Jay Skurski

Stevie Johnson looked every bit a No. 1 receiver on the Buffalo Bills’ first drive of the second quarter.

Johnson had four catches for 42 yards during the Bills’ eight-play, 72-yard drive that ended with his 13-yard touchdown catch that tied the game, 7-7.

With the catch, Johnson ended a streak of four straight games without a touchdown.

Johnson, though, came off the field midway through the quarter with trainer Bud Carpenter. He did return to the field before halftime.

The Bills took a 10-7 lead with a 37-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter with 4:38 to go in the second quarter, but the Buffalo defense couldn’t hold it.

New Orleans took the lead less than a minute later on a 69-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to rookie Kenny Stills, then extended the lead to 21-10 when Brees hooked up with tight end Jimmy Graham for a 15-yard score shortly before halftime.

Continue reading "Second-quarter analysis: Stevie steps up, but defense can't keep up" »

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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 |