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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Tale of two halves for Bills' Manuel, first-team offense in loss

Quarterback EJ Manuel and the first-team offense said they felt confident that a touchdown would finally come their way. They just didn’t expect it to come as late into the game as it did.

The Buffalo Bills struggled their way through the first two quarters, accounting for only 82 yards, six first downs, seven penalties, three turnovers and no points. The boos for the offensive output were out in full force early in the game, serenading Manuel and company as they trotted off the field for halftime, staring at a 24-0 deficit right in the face.

“Yes, obviously we can’t be happy with that,” running back Fred Jackson said. “That’s something we have to look at, but at the same time we can’t let that define who we are. It’s a preseason game that we didn’t look well in. We have to go out and make some adjustments and continue to move on.”

Then, the Bills offense woke up. It could have been induced by strong words from the head coach during halftime, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers putting in their second-team defense to start or a combination of the two.

Regardless of the reason the first-team offense marched down the field and finally ended the streak that had plagued them all preseason. On their 19th drive, the Bills scored a touchdown at last.

Manuel looked right, saw wide receiver Mike Williams in the end zone and completed the pass as he was knocked down to the turf.

"I take a lot out of it, you know I don't care who you're playing against. I think it's a matter of just having some pride about yourself and having pride as an offense," Manuel said. "I knew we had to come back and play better in the second half."

Head coach Doug Marrone wasn’t satisfied with just the one scoring drive. He sent the first-team offense right back out on the field after a Tampa Bay three-and-out, and much to his delight, the Bills drove the ball 60 yards in six plays for another touchdown. After starting the day just 9-of-18 for 67 yards and an interception in the first half, Manuel went 10-of-10 for 131 yards and a touchdown.

The two scoring drives weren’t enough, as Buffalo lost their preseason home opener to Tampa Bay 27-14. The starting defense came through at the beginning of the game, forcing a three-and-out and a turnover to keep the offense in the thick of things.

A lost fumble from C.J. Spiller gave the Buccaneers a shortened field and the Bills’ defense couldn’t stop them from ending their drive with a touchdown. That breakthrough was combined with a Connor Barth 43-yard field goal, a fumble returned for a touchdown and a 24-yard touchdown reception from rookie Mike Evans to give Tampa Bay a dominating halftime lead.

"We just came out flat, and that's usually not the case for us," said safety Aaron Williams. "For whatever reason, we just weren't ourselves today. I'm not really worried about it, we're just going to continue to get ready for Detroit and fix the things we did wrong."

Penalties were quite an issue for Buffalo throughout the game. Doug Marrone’s team were assessed 12 different fouls totaling 80 lost yards, but some of those penalties negated big gains and potential first downs.

After the Bills had two scoring drives to start the third quarter the starting offense was promptly taken out of the game. To the surprise of many, it wasn’t Thad Lewis or Jeff Tuel getting in as the backup quarterback, the rarely used Dennis Dixon trotted into the game to relieve Manuel.

Dixon led one, and only one drive even though Marrone had planned on using him more. The quarterback fumbled the ball which led the head coach to worry about ball security issues. He was replaced by Jeff Tuel, who took over for the rest of the contest. Thad Lewis did not take a single snap.

Marrone, who has stated his dissatisfaction with the backup quarterback play in the past, said even Dixon could be in the running for the top job behind Manuel.

"Yeah, I think anyone that is in there is in the mix for the backup role," the coach.

The Bills lost four in the game to injury. Tight end Lee Smith (toe), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (neck), safety Da’Norris Searcy (stinger) and wide receiver T.J. Graham (neck) all left the exhibition contest prematurely.

Only one game remains on the preseason schedule for Buffalo, a Thursday night date with the Detroit Lions at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills will get back to practice on Monday, August 25 at the ADPRO Sports Training Center in Orchard Park.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloDetroit
People : Aaron WilliamsC.J. SpillerDoug MarroneFred JacksonJeff TuelLee SmithMarquise GoodwinMike EvansMike WilliamsNorris SearcyT.J. GrahamThad Lewis

08/23/2014 9:27PM
Tale of two halves for Bills' Manuel, first-team offense in loss
Please enter your comments below.
08/23/2014 9:36PM
Wake me when it's over
You know it's going to be a long season when preseason hasn't even ended yet and your already thinking about next year. Hang in there Bills fans you will always have next year.
08/23/2014 9:55PM
Whatta Mess
Marrone has this team so confused- revolving backups- players need consistency in coaching- there is no sign of a coach who honestly has a true open competition- most positions are closed to what he wants
08/23/2014 9:58PM
This season is gonna be bad
Then Pegula will lead the team to last place next year with his "take a dive to improve" act.
08/23/2014 9:59PM
Frankk Costanza said it best
This guy....this aint my kind of guy! EJ joins the long list of terribly inept Buffalo QBs. I see another "triumphant march to 7-9" again. Thank GOD for college ball.
08/23/2014 11:03PM
new gm a must
who am I to sit here and say what is right or wrong with the bills. After all you have people in the front office who have been around this game for many years, who live and breath it,a coach who even played in the league offense line even. They should know what this team needs right? So as I sat on my chair on draft day I was hopeful we would take a offense line player(it's not the pretty pick,but you need a foundation before you build the house) I think I'm right. I think this draft and last years will cost whaley his job along with the coaches. Manuel isn't a first round pick and Watkins is but not for the Bills. We need a line that can protect and a Qb that can deliverer. If Pegula is the new owner, he will know what needs to be done. But like the Sabers it will be another 3-5 years before this team is worth watching. That was painful to watch!!! ouch!!! p.s like the "D" but the secondary is going to get burned for awhile. GO BILLS !!!! GO SABERS !!!!
08/23/2014 11:11PM
I think we should realistically expect the Bills to be one of the worst teams in the league. I am talking 4-12, I would be shocked if they get to 6-10, 7-9 and Marrone should be mentioned for coach of the year (no sarcasm). The road schedule is brutal, this team just again is a team void of NFL talent. Talk all you want about Sammy Watkins, this kid will get killed over the middle with these weak 5-6 yard checkdowns. EJ cannot throw a deep ball! we have no mid range or vertical passing game! watch the routes, this is not an NFL passing offense. There is no creativity, no timing on the routes and breaks, it is going to be painful! Not to mention we set the franchise back years again with no first rounder next year! Unreal draft 4 QB's next year until 1 can play, we are in trouble
08/23/2014 11:30PM
dont listen
Joe... I've seen people on here saying that you had nothing good to say about EJ and this years Bills for that matter! Well... I've got over $250.00 in this Tampa game in tickets alone!...You are absolutely right!.. this team is terrible! And.... The stadium renovations are a total hype!.....I've seen better paint jobs under buffalo over passes! It's Not a "better Ralph" It's Not a " better team" It's Just bad!
08/23/2014 11:45PM
Same old story - defense looked good, offense looked bad.
Forget about the backup QB, we need a guy capable of being the starting QB! I think that will be the thing that ends up getting the GM and coaching staff fired - the decision to not bring in a veteran QB to compete for the #1 job and making EJ Manuel the unquestioned starter. Every other spot on the roster there was competition for the spot. All I keep hearing from the coaching staff is how competition makes everyone better. So why no competition for the most important spot on the roster and the one with the biggest question mark...? I just don't understand it.
08/24/2014 12:58AM
Second-stringers? Doesn't count.
EJ Manuel simply lacks accuracy. He also lacks decisiveness. I will not be holding my breath waiting for this pumpkin to turn into a franchise quarterback.
08/24/2014 1:52AM
What a Joke!
End of issue. Manuel plain sucks. We need a quarterback and FAST or else this goes NO WHERE. Do you guys at 'GR finally get it? Better yet, does this idiot management get it? WE SUCK FOLKS WITH MANUEL AT QUARTERBACK!!!
08/24/2014 7:05AM
DIXON??????????? AT QB?
After scoring 2 quick touchdowns with the score 24-14 Marrone decides to put in Dixon for the fans that basically is a insult? Before what was a sellout he throws the game before the hometown fans KIDS DAY and all? Whatever momentum was given the team and hope for the fans was distinguished. INEXCUSABLE!
08/24/2014 8:02AM
finally had it
first half first string really sucked.don't think Manuel has it looks like 4 -12 season
08/24/2014 8:26AM
manuel brings the whole team down
if a qb cant hit his man in stride it could be the difference of 5 yard or more each play - not to mention putting your receiver at risk for a bad hit - all hid turnovers and three and outs cause our defense to be overworked and tired and eventually break - all thiis leads to loses and that leads to coaches and gms getting fired - like i said it affects the whole team
08/24/2014 9:30AM
New buyers!
I think the other 31 teams should pony up the $$$ to buy the team. They can all be assured of a win.
08/24/2014 9:35AM
I think...
...50 of the 53 players who will make the roster are pretty good. Unfortunately, the three that are not are all quarterbacks. Quarterback play is killing this team. Mark Sanchez will be a free agent after this year in Philly. Yes, Mark Sanchez. He may not be great, but at least he played in a couple AFC Championship games and is a certain upgrade over EJ.
08/24/2014 11:12AM
Maybe we should talk golf after every Bills game. Anybody?
08/24/2014 11:29AM
What a mess
This whole mess started years ago when Ralph fired Bill Polian and John Butler left for San Diego. They have never recovered. Good luck to the new owners. Maybe they will have someone who knows football personnel.
08/24/2014 11:57AM
All us fans that showed up for this game (AT HOME) were totally disappointed, AGAIN? The Coaching was horrible, besides the play? But WGR says you practice so well, what gives when it counts?
08/24/2014 1:34PM
It's preseason.
08/24/2014 3:23PM
Blame game
Once again Marrone blames everyone on the offense other than EJ. We're not all blind
08/24/2014 4:00PM
At Least the Bills Can Compete
... against a second string defense! Since we haven't yet scored a touchdown against any team's first string defense, maybe other teams will show mercy and rest their first string defense when they play the Bills so it will at least look like the Bills can compete in the NFL. This is just sad.
08/24/2014 6:25PM
Re: New Buyers
Why would other teams need to buy the Bills? Who ever owns the Bills and manages the Bills do a good enough job themselves of throwing games for nearly 50 years .... Bills fans just don't see or want to admit it.
08/24/2014 7:15PM
QB Available
We have a number 2 QB his name is EJ, lets go get a #1...I hear Mark Sanchez is available according to Phili. coach... At least he would give us a chance!!!
08/24/2014 10:46PM
Since we're getting a new owner - how bout a new GM / Head Coach / OC / and Quarterback! Thats the only hope for the future. Forget about this year. Its down the tubes. Hey, isnt Bill Polian available? He built the Super Bowl Bills -and after that championship teams in Carolina and Indiannapolis.
08/24/2014 11:38PM
What if the teams for sale...
And no one bids more than $1.00 !!!!
08/25/2014 1:09AM
Patriots will demolish the Bills
I dread having to watch NE play the Bills. I get sick just thinking about it. Very little(if any)improvement from the Bills in the last 14 years. All we can hope for is that the new owner(s) will clean house. That includes the scouting dept. Brandon, Whaley, Marone must go. They can shove their analytics you know where.
08/25/2014 3:21AM
E J is the problem?
E J makes the right read and throws a perfect ball, the TE falls and the ball is intercepted. How is that EJ s fault? Next possession CJ fumbles yeah blame EJ right ! Next possession great run by CJ and great pass by EJ taken away by two picky calls and a third wrong call, you end up with a third and 35 Brady can't get you out of that hole. Then the punter punts for 29 yards, EJs fault? The fumble happens because the rookie guard missed his man completely and later the rookie tackle did the same! Receivers fell down twice on good passes. It's lucky you weren't the GM for P Manning's first year , you would have cut him.
08/25/2014 7:41AM
New Quarterback PLEASE!!!
It's time to ditch the Manuel and get the right Tuel for the job.
08/25/2014 9:17AM
Please, End The Suffering...
...Let bon jovi (or anyone else) buy the franchise so it can be moved. Let some other city go through the torment of dealing with this "team". It's enough of the promises, hype, and future potential. QB is a bust. The rest of the roster is marginal, at best. Coaching is directionless. The organization is in flux. With which criteria can this be considered a professional football team? On top of that, we're being held hostage by the nfl to build a $1B stadium, or the team moves. Sorry, I don't have a penny that I'm prepared to contribute. WNYers have been put through enough. It’s time to wave the white flag, and say goodbye.
08/25/2014 10:04PM
bills make me want to jump off a bridge
Oh Oh to late i am gone for lol.
08/26/2014 9:32PM
Bills Suck
Sell to wgr radio. They are the only ones who like them. ej sucks
08/28/2014 12:10AM
Think for the first time in your life
How much will your tax bill go up if the Bills and all the tax dollars they generate leave ? The 80 plus million per year paid to the players , taxed by N.Y. state. Then the sales tax and property tax paid here by the players. The jobs at the stadiumand around the stadium that would be lost and the taxes they generate. Sales tax on NFL merchandise sold here etc. etc.! You the tax payer will pay more not less if the bills leave.
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