BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Buffalo Bills fans will get their first look at their team in live game action today, as the Bills close Week 1 of the NFL preseason with a road game versus the Indianapolis Colts.
Throughout the game, check out our Live Game Thread here at Buffalo Bills Draft. We’ll keep you updated on scores, injuries and important plays/performances, while also providing live analysis of the game as it proceeds. Join the conversation by commenting below the post — we may even some of your comments in the blog over the course of the game!
Final Score: Bills 44, Colts 20
The final score is meaningless, but overall, it was a very impressive showing for the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. Both quarterbacks had their ups and downs, but had enough impressive moments to inspire confidence. Defensively, the Bills made some big plays and brought pressure throughout the game. Standouts from today’s game included pass-rushers Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes, kickoff returner Marquise Goodwin and cornerback Jumal Rolle.
I will be publishing my full set of postgame takeaways within the next couple hours here at Buffalo Bills Draft, so check back tonight!
Bills 44 – Colts 20
Jumal Rolle got into the action with an interception of Chandler Harnish. Rolle proceeded to return the interception for a touchdown.
The Bills currently are tied with the Ravens for most points scored in the preseason.
Bills 37 – Colts 20
Buffalo went for it on 4th and 2 and Jeff Tuel converted. Tuel threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Kaufman to cap off another impressive series.
Thomas Welch went down with an injury with less than seven minutes to go in the Bills game. Welch was up and alert when the game returned from commercial break.
Bills 30 – Colts 20
Jeff Tuel lost the ball after being hit and Daxton Swanson returned the fumble for a 72-yard touchdown.
The Bills currently lead the Colts 30-13 at the end of the third quarter. Bills cornerback Kip Edwards got a blitzing lane to the quarterback and ended the Colts’ most recent offensive possession with a third-down sack at the 1-yard line. The Bills are driving downfield heading into the fourth quarter, coming off of a tough 29-yard catch up the right sideline over coverage by wide receiver Brandon Kaufman on the last play of the third quarter.
The connection of Buffalo Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel and wide receiver Marcus Easley has stood out in the third quarter. Although Tuel has had a little trouble with shotgun snaps, including a fumble in goal-to-go on the last series that forced the Bills to settle for a field goal attempt, he has looked very good passing the football.
Tuel has completed 10-of-11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown in his first two series of the game. Seven of those passes for 94 yards have been completed to Easley, who has clearly been Tuel’s go-to receiver in this quarter.
Bills 30 – Colts 13
Jeff Tuel marched Buffalo down the field again, but this time there would be no touchdown. Rian Lindell kicked the short field goal to extend Buffalo’s lead to 17 points.
Bills 27 – Colts 13
Jeff Tuel came in to start the third quarter and went 5-for-5 on the drive. His final pass attempt was a touchdown pass to Da’Rick Rogers to extend Buffalo’s lead to 14 points.
The second half has begun in Indianapolis. Jeff Tuel is in the game at QB for the #Bills, so looks like EJ Manuel’s day is done.
EJ Manuel will get most of the attention, but the Buffalo Bills’ defense has also made impressive strides today. They have certainly shown playmaking ability today by causing turnovers, bringing pressure and making key stops to stall drives.
Some of the best plays made by the Bills defense on their final two series of the half:
– Jamie Blatnick and Nigel Bradham both exploded by their opponents off the edge to bring quick pressure into the backfield. Blatnick drilled Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish as he threw to force an incompletion.
— Crezdon Butler forced a 3rd-and-6 incompletion over right middle with very tight coverage on Colts wide receiver Griff Whalen, which forced the Colts to settle for a field goal attempt.
— Jerry Hughes, who has had a very good showing against his former team today, beat his opponent off the edge to bring immediate pressure into the backfield, then leaped up to swat down a Harnish pass attempt in the backfield.
— Two plays later, Hughes beat the left tackle again, this time with a strong inside move to bring pressure into the backfield. Safety Jonathan Meeks had a chance to intercept the poorly-thrown pass because of Hughes’ pressure, but the ball went off Meeks’ hands.
EJ Manuel had an up-and-down first half, completing 16-of-21 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Manuel had trouble with his ball placement – many of his throws were slightly short of his receivers, forcing his receivers to come back or reach back for the ball, even on many of his short completions. His completion percentage was inflated by the simplicity of his throws during the first half — like at Florida State, most of his throws were underneath 10 yards, so his downfield passing and accuracy has not been tested much yet.
The half certainly ended on an up note, however, as Manuel led a very efficient two-minute drill for a 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive. Manuel completed 8-of-9 passing attempts for 68 yards, and also added a 4-yard scramble (the other 20 yards came from Colts penalties). His only incompletion was a smart decision to fire the ball away out of bounds under heavy pressure. The drive was capped with a terrific, well-placed throw between a double-coverage window for a 17-yard Dorin Dickerson touchdown.
Buffalo 20 – Colts 13
E.J. Manuel threw his first NFL touchdown pass to Dorin Dickerson. The pass was 17 yards and was Manuel’s first pass attempt of over 15 yards.
Colts 13 – Bills 13
Marquise Goodwin is a dangerous man! Buffalo’s third round pick returned a kick 107 yards to tie the game at 13.
Colts 13 – Bills 6
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 44-yard field goal to extend the Colts’ lead back to seven points.
Colts 10 – Bills 6
Dustin Hopkins kicked a 23 yard field goal to close the gap to four points. Buffalo had terrific field position follow Crezdon Butler’s interception, but the Bills could not reach the end zone.
The Buffalo Bills already have two takeaways less than three minutes into the second quarter. Manny Lawson is looking very good as a pass-rusher today, and he just made a big play by beating the right tackle off the edge and getting his hands up to tip a pass, which allowed Bills cornerback Crezdon Butler to catch the tipped pass for an interception.
Through four series, Bills quarterback EJ Manuel has completed five of nine passing attempts for only 26 yards. He has really struggled thus far with putting the proper touch on his throws. His passes have been consistently slightly short, making his receivers come back to the ball. He has a strong arm capable of putting plenty of distance on the ball, but he needs to do a much better job of leading his receivers.
Colts 10 – Bills 3
Matt Hasselbeck connected with T.Y. Hilton for a 44 yard touchdown pass. Ron Brooks was a step behind Hilton on the play and Hasselbeck delivered a perfect pass.
The teams have traded field goals on the past two drives, but we’ve seen some big plays from Bills players on both defense and offense.
- On the last defensive possession, inside linebacker Kiko Alonso made a touchdown-saving pass breakup in the end zone. Tight end Coby Fleener had a half-step on Alonso in the end zone, but Alonso recovered to reach in and tip pass away.
- Defensive back Aaron Williams finished off that drive to hold it to a field goal with a big hit on Colts running back Donald Brown to break up a short pass.
- Quarterback EJ Manuel showed his running ability by breaking free from the pocket and converting a 3rd & 6 with his feet. On the next play, Manuel threaded a tight 9-yard pass between coverage to wide receiver T.J. Graham.
Colts 3 – Bills 3
Dustin Hopkins made his first career field goal of 24 yards to tie the game at three. Buffalo had great field position due to Marquise Goodwin’s kick return.
Colts 3 – Bills 0
The Colts struck first with an Adam Vinatieri 25 yard field goal. The Colts had terrific field position to start the drive due to a C.J. Spiller fumble.
The Bills may have capitalized with a takeaway, but they gave the ball right back. This one was on their star running back C.J. Spiller, who fumbled a handoff, recovered by Colts defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense has forced its first turnover of the preseason. The Bills’ defense was actually gashed by a deep pass from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to tight end Coby Fleener, and free safety Da’Norris Searcy whiffed on a tackle, but cornerback Ron Brooks made up for it with a big hit to force a Fleener fumble, which Searcy came back into the play to recover.
Earlier in the series, Mario Williams exploded by Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo and buried Andrew Luck for a 10-yard sack.
EJ Manuel completed one of two passing attempts on his first series. He missed ahead of his receiver on his first downfield throw over the middle. His completion was a screen pass, but thrown into defensive coverage for an easy third-down stop by the Colts defense.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense was able to hold and force a punt on the Indianapolis Colts’ first series, but the game is not off to a great start for rookie wide receiver Robert Woods, who fumbled his first punt return attempt inside the 10-yard line.
Fortunately, Woods will have an opportunity to make up for it immediately as he will take the field as a starting wide receiver for rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who is able to enter NFL game action for the first time as the Bills’ starting quarterback today.
The game is underway in Indianapolis. Buffalo Bills rookie placekicker Dustin Hopkins put the opening kickoff through the end zone for a touchback.
With Scott Chandler and Mike Caussin out for today’s preseason game, keep an eye on Buffalo’s remaining tight ends. Lee Smith, rookie Chris Gragg should see significant playing time. Buffalo’s newest tight end, Nick Provo should also see time on the field. Provo played his collegiate ball at Syracuse so he should be familiar with a lot of Buffalo’s terminology.
The following Bills players will not play today, according to the team’s official Twitter account:
WR Stevie Johnson
WR Brad Smith
WR Kevin Elliott
CB Leodis McKelvin
CB Justin Rogers
FS Jairus Byrd
OLB Keith Pough
DT Aaron Tipoti
G Keith Williams
OT Chris Hairston
TE Mike Caussin
TE Scott Chandler
The team also indicated that rookie wide receiver Robert Woods will start in place of Johnson, while second-year cornerback Ron Brooks will start with McKelvin out.
Check out Buffalo Bills Draft’s previews of today’s game!
Joe Marino took a look at EJ Manuel’s situation heading into his first preseason game, and compared it to the situation faced last year by Andrew Luck, who will be Manuel’s quarterback counterpart as the Bills play the Indianapolis Colts.
Today’s game will be a first look at Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel in NFL action, as he makes his preseason debut today as the Bills’ starter while his competition for the starting job, Kevin Kolb, will be the third-string quarterback as he continues to fight off a knee injury.
Additionally, this is the first preseason game for the Bills under its new coaching staff, led by Doug Marrone. With a new coaching staff and some very promising young talent added to the team, the 2013 Bills are likely to have a very different look than the 2012 team did.