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Ugly First Half Leads to Bills Loss

Penalties, turnovers and a shaky first-half performance by EJ Manuel contributed to a 27-14 Bills loss to Tampa Bay at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday.

All three of Buffalo's turnovers came prior to halftime as Manuel and the first-team offense failed to put together any meaningful drives in the first two quarters. Once the Bills second-year QB and his teammates finally showed a spark, it came on two consecutive drives in the third quarter against Tampa Bay's second-string unit.

After a CJ Spiller fumble, Doug Martin put Tampa Bay on the board first, leaping over the line of scrimmage and into the end zone for the 7-0 lead. Martin put the Bucs in excellent position, taking a 21-yard pass from Josh McCown to the goalline just a play earlier. The Tampa Bay running back beat Brandon Spikes down the middle, bobbled -- but caught -- the short pass and worked his way close to the end zone where the play was initially ruled a touchdown. The call was reversed after replays showed Martin hitting the turf at the 1.

After a Connor Barth field goal, The Bucs' defense made it 17-0 on a Clinton McDonald fumble recovery and touchdown. Manuel was hit and stripped of the ball by Michael Johnson and McDonald scooped it up, rumbling 17 yards to the end zone.

Mike Evans, the rookie receiver who was linked to Buffalo in plenty of mock drafts last spring, padded the Bucs' lead just before halftime, hauling in a 24-yard scoring pass from McCown.

Manuel and Buffalo's first-team offense finally got going in the third quarter, marching 85 yards to the end zone on nine plays, marking their first touchdown of the preseson (19 drives total). Manuel completed passes of 21 and 23 yards before drilling a 14-yard strike to Mike Williams for the Bills' first points of the day.

Buffalo cut the deficit to 10 points thanks to Fred Jackson's 8-yard scoring run, capping off a 60-yard drive that saw Manuel complete all four of his pass attempts, including an 18-yarder to Robert Woods along the near sideline.

Manuel finished the day 19-28 for 198 yards with one touchdown and one interception in three full quarters of playing time, before giving way to Dennis Dixon in the fourth.

Dixon, listed behind Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel on the depth chart, hadn't thrown a single pass during the preseason before entering Saturday's contest. Dixon lasted only one drive (0-1 passing, 13 rushing yards, one fumble) before Tuel entered the game. Tuel threw for 90 yards on 8-14 passing. Lewis did not see any playing time.

Spiller led the Bills with 36 rushing yards on nine carries while Bryce Brown picked up 24 yards on two carries. Mike Williams looked in mid-season form, making a beautiful tip-toe catch along the far sideline early on and then hauling in Manuel's only touchdown pass of the day. Williams finished with 46 yards on three receptions.

As a team, the Bills outgained the Bucs in total yardage, 353 to 231, however also led in penalties (12) and turnovers (3).

Buffalo wraps up the preseason with its fifth and final game Thursday evening at Ralph Wilson Stadium against the Detroit Lions. Hear the call at 7 p.m. on WGR 550 and the Buffalo Bills Radio Network.

1st Quarter
TB - 6:28 - Doug Martin 1-yard run (Connor Barth extra point is good) - TB 7 BUF 0
(Drive info: 5 plays, 39 yards, 2:17)

2nd Quarter
TB - 9:58 - Connor Barth 43-yard field goal attempt is good- TB 10 BUF 0
(Drive info: 8 plays, 27 yards, 4:05)

TB - 8:34 - Clinton McDonald 17-yard fumble return (Connor Barth PAT is good) - TB 17 BUF 0
(Drive info: 3 plays, -3 yards, 1:37)

TB - 1:05 - Mike Evans 24-yard pass from Josh McCown (Connor Barth PAT is good) - TB 24 BUF 0
(Drive info: 11 plays, 82 yards, 5:56)

3rd Quarter
BUF - 6:23 - Mike Williams 14-yard pass from EJ Manuel (Dan Carpenter PAT is good) - TB 24 BUF 7
(Drive info: 9 plays, 85 yards, 3:31)

BUF - 2:39 - Fred Jackson 8-yard run (Dan Carpenter PAT is good) - TB 24 BUF 14
(Drive info: 6 plays, 60 yards, 2:19)

4th Quarter
TB - 4:49 - Patrick Murray 27-yard field goal attempt is GOOD - TB 27 BUF 14
(Drive info: 13 plays, 51 yards, 7:55)

Team Stats
Total Yards
TB - 231
BUF - 353

Passing Yards
TB - 132
BUF - 264

Rushing Yards
TB - 99
BUF - 89

TB - 5/50 yards
BUF - 12/80 yards

TB - 1
BUF - 3

Time of Possession
TB - 35:04
BUF - 24:56

08/23/2014 7:40PM
Ugly First Half Leads to Bills Loss
Please enter your comments below.
08/23/2014 7:49PM
If anybody still believes....
that this team is making the playoffs with Manuel..GOOD LUCK!!
08/23/2014 7:50PM
stupid bills
here we go again
08/23/2014 8:06PM
The Good, Bad, and Ugly
This was a mixed bag if I ever saw one. I say this. The new O-Line need some time together. But, Marrone has to stop juggling things around so much. These guys need time together to start to gel. Manuel must have taken a wake-up pill during half-time because it was night and day. And I don't think it was because of the 2nd stringers in there. He genuinely looked batter. The question is which one is going to show up? Actually, almost everyone one on the offense looked better. Go figure. If I was Marrone I would play Manuel at least a Qtr. next week. And please find a place for Bryce Brown in this playbook.
08/23/2014 8:25PM
Another wasted year
Yes, yes it's only a pre-season game. But this is what the Bills are all about. They'll be 4-12 at the end of the season and Manuel will be gone as QB. 15 years and no playoffs.
08/23/2014 9:01PM
Not looking good, not many places to find hope.
Are they just in denial about Watkins? They could have grabbed half a dozen better QBs in the draft. And several in the 2nd round. I've liked Marrone, but this team looks poorly coached, poor game control, doesn't look like there is any drive or motivation. I hope I am wrong. But being a Bills and Sabres fan, I have gotten pretty adept at spotting flat uninspired teams.
08/23/2014 9:03PM
our bills first team players can whip any teams second string players !!!!!! let's hope most teams will sit their first string guys? if not? EJ is gonna be running for his life- too many penalties tonite too- I wonder why? will Baloney Marroney figure this out? stay tuned for Sunday practice !!!!
08/23/2014 9:14PM
Is Marrone protecting Hackett?
The first string offense is being led/devised by offensive coordinator Nate Hackett, who seems to be out of his league. Las season he also was the quarterback coach. So in 2 years, Hackett's offense generates little enthusiasm. His play calling is highly questionable but he is a Syracuse buddy of Marrone and no one is really taking him to task. Bring back Teddy Marchibroda.
08/23/2014 9:24PM
Wake up!!!
EJ IS NOT AN NFL CALIBER QB. He telegraphs his throws, can't hit wide open receivers, and most of his throws look like a 5th grader threw them. Wake up, bite the bullet. Sign someone or see if Tuel can get it done. Love Watkins but he needs a QB whocan throw!!!!
08/23/2014 9:33PM
2nd thoughts
i hope pegula doesn't have 2nd thoughts about buying this team after that performance on the other side of the coin hope he does and cleans house from top to bottom new coach new GM and new QB
08/24/2014 12:28AM
EJ Takes ICe Bucket Challenge
As a good sport after the game, EJ accepted the ice bucket challenge which unfortunately his missed the target. When asked to comment Doug Marrone cited poorly formed ice crystals and a slippery container not EJ's aim.
08/24/2014 2:07AM
Hope the Booing creates a wake up call
Get a quarterback or else this season is toast. The backups blow too. Nassib looked pretty good the other day against the Jet's. Three TD passes. Fire everybody at 'GR too. Douchebag radio at is worst. Can't take it no more.
08/24/2014 2:15AM
A home game, and they look like a train wreck?
08/24/2014 12:36PM
EJ Hackett = loosing season again.
This offense will never go anywhere with Hackett calling the shot's and EJ under center. They both are college grade at best neither of them belong in the NFL. We need Chan Gailey back as the Off Coordinator. He had Spiller and the rest of the offense running circles around the current offensive scheme. Now that we have a defense we need a QB and OC to step up and put on their big boy pants and start playing NFL style offense for this team. I have seen more QB talent in the Arena football league than what we have right now. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick, one on one, would smoke EJ in a skills competition between the two QB's. Start the sending the SOS now, because this offense is going down faster than the Titanic did.
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