Getting an entire half to show his compatibility with the NFL, EJ Manuel led the Buffalo Bills to an impressive win which doesn’t mean much, but probably shows where the team is heading towards when it comes to their starting quarterback.
Manuel played the entire first half in a 44-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts, throwing for 107 yards and a touchdown, completing 16 of his 21 pass attempts. He also showed some light feet, carrying the ball three times, gaining 28 yards. His most impressive feat was leading the team on a 95-yard drive on less than two minutes, going 9-for-9 during the drive. He capped it off with a 17-yard pass to Dorin Dickerson.
Kevin Kolb, battling with Manuel for the starting spot, dressed up, but didn’t get to take a snap. Instead, it was Jeff Tuel who played in the second half, throwing a 19-of-23 for 212 yards and two touchdowns against the weakened Colts team, but still had an impressive outing.
Manuel didn’t throw any interceptions, but he did make a mess of a hand off to C.J. Spiller, fumbling the ball. Spiller himself carried the ball four times for 36 yards, while the most impressive player for the Bills on the day was rookie Marquise Goodwin, who returned two kickoffs for a total of 160 yards, including one for 107 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Easley was the most impressive on the receiving side of the ball, catching it 7 times for 94 yards.
Things to learn from this game?
My main thing was I wanted to operate the offense like coach Hackett has taught us and get all the other guys in position. The veterans have done a great job of bringing me along and things like that. The main thing is just continuing to go out there and execute.
The Bills had to be pleased with the tempo of their offense right from the start, with Spiller getting runs for 15 and 17 yards. The rookie combination of Tuel and Manuel combined for only nine incompletions on 44 passes, while turning the ball over twice. When Tuel did it, it resulted in a 72-yard fumble return for a touchdown, although there’s a good chance that it should have been called an incomplete pass.
Another player that draws a lot of attention due to the high expectations but not enough production is Mario Williams, who hasn’t been going through a full workload in practice, but did get to play two series. He got one sack on Andrew Luck during the Colts’ second possession, taking him back 10 yards. Kyle Williams has been experiencing the same practice and injury issues as Mario, but also got to play in the first two series of the game.
The Bills broke their preseason record with 44 points, but that’s about it for achievements. Preseason records don’t matter, and they’re about short spurts of cohesion and keeping key guys healthy. The win is especially important for the Bills as they try to build confidence entering the new season, but that’s about it, besides Doug Marrone and his up-tempo offense looking impressive on its first night out.