Bills rolling along

The Buffalo Bills dispatched of the Minnesota Vikings 20-16 Saturday to go to 2-0 in the preseason.  Over that span the Bills offense have put up 64 points to their opponents 36.

Rookie QB EJ Manuel, who went 10-12 for 92 yards was injured but the coaching staff and Manuel himself are not sure when that occurred. Manuel woke up Saturday with a swollen knee.  The injury may give slotted backup QB Kevin Kolb a chance to take the reins of the team.

“He will miss the remainder of the preseason and then be re-evaluated at that time,” Head Coach Doug Marrone said in a statement. “Kevin Kolb will be our starting quarterback for this weekend’s game at Washington.”

“There are a lot of variables that go into that: how Kevin is doing, how he is playing, how EJ comes back from the time off, a lot of speculation on that,” Marrone said. “I think I’ll be able to answer that question once we get to the day-to-day (part) and he’s out here practicing.”

The Bills next face the Washington Redskins on Saturday the 24th.  Tickets are still available.

 

 

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Dalton’s First Comeback Leads Bengals Over Bills

In the end, Andy Dalton was better in the clutch than those unbeaten Buffalo Bills.

The rookie quarterback ran 3 yards for a tying touchdown, then led the Cincinnati Bengals in range for Mike Nugent’s winning field goal in the closing seconds of a 23-20 victory on Sunday that stunned the AFC’s last unbeaten team.

Now, the Bills (3-1) know what it’s like to blow a big lead.

“It’s the worst way to lose it,” said running back Fred Jackson, who had a 2-yard touchdown run. “We had an opportunity to put away the game, but we didn’t make the plays when we had to.”

Instead, Dalton made the decisive plays at the end of a miserable day in front of one of Cincinnati’s smallest crowds.

Only 41,142 fans showed up on a sunny afternoon, the smallest crowd for a regular-season game in Paul Brown Stadium’s 12-year history. The Bengals hadn’t played in front of such a small group since they drew only 34,568 to Riverfront Stadium for the last game of the 1995 season.

Many of them had already left when Dalton pulled off Cincinnati’s biggest comeback since 2004.

“He’s a young quarterback,” rookie receiver A.J. Green said. “It’s all about how you finish. The great ones finish, and he’s going to be a great one.”

The second-round pick from TCU was awful in the first half. He was repeatedly high and wide with his throws while going only 7 of 20 for 116 yards with two interceptions. Safety Bryan Scott returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown, helping Buffalo pull ahead 17-3 at halftime.

“Even when we came in at halftime, we were like, ‘Guys, don’t let up. We have to come out in the second half still swinging,'” Scott said. “We know what it feels like to be on the other side of things.”

Soon, they did again.

Dalton threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham. His 3-yard run on a draw play tied it at 20 with 4:09 left. After the Bills punted, he used every bit of his 6-foot-2 frame to set up the winning kick.

On third-and-3 from the Cincinnati 43, Dalton ran away from the rush and dived out of bounds while being hit, stretching the ball as far ahead as he could. It was marked a few inches short of the first down. After a review, the ball was moved about a foot forward, giving the Bengals a first down with 45 seconds left.

Brian Leonard caught a 15-yard pass and ran 14 yards to the Buffalo 25, setting up Nugent’s 43-yard kick as time ran out.

“I think we needed it a lot, especially at home,” Nugent said. “We’ve got to do a better job of putting fans in the stands.”

Dalton finished 18 of 36 for 298 yards with his first NFL fourth-quarter comeback.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Dalton said. “You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. If you’re too high, it can hurt you. If you’re too low, it can hurt you. I try to stay even-keel.”

Notes: Buffalo’s Chad Rinehart started at right guard in place of Kraig Urbik, out with a knee injury. Drayton Florence replaced CB Terrence McGee, out with a hamstring injury. … OT Demetrius Bell left with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. … QB Ryan Fitzpatrick moved past 8,000 yards passing for his career. … The Bills have returned interceptions for TDs in back-to-back game for the first time since 2009. … It was Cincinnati’s biggest comeback since Carson Palmer led them from a 17-point deficit to a 27-26 win in Baltimore in 2004. … Green had catches of 58 and 40 yards, the first Bengals WR with two catches of 40 or more yards since Eddie Brown in 1988.

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Panthers’ Newton Exceeds Expectations With Fast Start

“All those young guys could have gotten great development,” Rivera said. “Especially in our situation, with a rookie quarterback.”

What would Cam Newton have done with a normal off-season? We won’t know until next year, but for now, Newton, the rookie quarterback from Auburn who was supposed to need time to transition from the spread offense he ran in college to a more N.F.L.-friendly pocket game, has stunned the league with a record-setting first two weeks.

On Sunday, Newton passed for a single-game rookie record of 432 yards against Green Bay, a blitz-heavy team. That was 10 more yards than he passed for last week in his pro debut, and he is the first N.F.L. player to begin his career with consecutive 400-yard passing games. Yes, there were four sacks and three interceptions Sunday, and two losses over all. But Newton has surpassed any reasonable expectations.

Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys executive who analyzes college players and the draft for , started monitoring Newton intensively last fall and was impressed by his talent and leadership skills. But even Brandt is shocked that Newton has thrown for so many yards so fast.

“Am I surprised he threw for 400 yards both games? Yes,” Brandt said. “Am I surprised he’s doing well? No. I had no question in my mind he’s going to do well.”

The Panthers are a rebuilding team with few receiving threats, but they did acquire tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen in the off-season to provide Newton with reliable targets. Still, the questions about Newton revolved around whether he, like Tim Tebow in Denver, would struggle to adapt to a pro-style game. The two, though, are significantly different. Newton is the far superior athletic talent, and he is not laden with an unorthodox throwing motion, as Tebow is. Newton throws a better pass that reaches its intended target more quickly than Tebow does, and Newton recognizes defenses more readily. The result: while Tebow took snaps as a backup wide receiver to get playing time for the Broncos last week, Newton is single-handedly keeping the Panthers competitive.

“The ball explodes off his hands, and he can change speeds,” the ESPN analyst and former quarterback Trent Dilfer said of Newton. “Tebow can’t do that. It’s night and day between the two players.”

During the summer, Rivera lauded Newton’s work habits. “You meet him and all the different things you can do with him — the book time, the film time, the walk-through time, the practice and postpractice — the kid has been terrific and very open to teaching,” he said. While the N.F.L. was at a standstill during the lockout, Newton trained at the IMG Academy with the former N.F.L. quarterback Chris Weinke. Weinke is a former Carolina quarterback, too, and his relationship with the franchise undoubtedly allowed him to gain insight into the type of offense the Panthers planned to run this year.

Newton was able to get the Carolina playbook during the brief window when the lockout ended around the time of the draft. That allowed him to get a head start with Weinke. Dilfer is familiar with it, too, because he knows Norv Turner’s playbook and Turner schooled Carolina’s offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski. Dilfer said it was a well-designed playbook that allowed a quarterback, even a new one, to develop pictures in his head of the plays and to be able to call the plays in a short period of time. So even though there were no off-season workouts, when Newton finally got to training camp, he was able to call the plays right away.

As for Newton’s flaws, Dilfer said Newton would most likely always miss high, because in his initial training as a thrower in college he tilted his body at angles to throw, so that his left shoulder still tilts upward, and then he has to get everything level to get the ball in a straight plane. Dilfer said his technique had improved drastically, but that would most likely always be something he had to correct.

As for developing Newton, Dilfer said the Panthers were taking the correct approach, even as they struggle to win games in a rebuilding year.

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