Sunday, August 11, 2013
Observation deck: Bills-Colts
By Mike Rodak
Observations from the Buffalo Bills' preseason-opening win over the Indianapolis Colts, a 44-20 victory:
Bills set franchise record for points: The Bills' 44 points set a franchise preseason record. Scoring came from all three phases of the game, including touchdowns on a 107-yard kickoff return from rookie Marquise Goodwin and a 17-yard interception return by cornerback Jumal Rolle.
Rookie quarterbacks impressive: With veteran Kevin Kolb serving as the emergency backup, the Bills had two rookie quarterbacks take all of snaps. EJ Manuel started and played the whole first half, while Jeff Tuel took over for the second half. Combined, they went 35-of-44 passing for 319 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Manuel was credited with a fumble on a botched handoff in the first quarter, while Tuel was strip-sacked early in the fourth quarter, with the Colts returning the fumble 72 yards for a touchdown. That play appeared close to being an incompletion, as Tuel's arm looked to be moving forward, but the result was upheld upon official review.
15 players on receiving stat sheet: Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett tested all parts of his team's passing offense, with 15 different players recording at least one catch in the contest. Wide receiver Marcus Easley led the way with seven catches for 94 yards. In the running game, C.J. Spiller was limited to just four carries early in the game but broke runs of 17 and 15 yards on the first two offensive plays for the Bills. The Bills kept up the tempo on offense, using the no-huddle even late in the fourth quarter.
Goodwin provides special teams spark: In addition to his 107-yard touchdown return in the second quarter, Goodwin got off to a fast start in the first quarter, returning a kickoff 53 yards. On both plays, his breakaway speed was hard to miss. There are always questions if a player like Goodwin, who had a 4.27-second 40-yard dash time, can translate his speed into the NFL. But on Sunday, he put special teams coaches across the NFL on notice.
Penalties, fumbles both issues: The Bills were penalized nine times for 74 yards compared to six flags against the Colts. In the first quarter, Goodwin was docked for unnecessary roughness, while cornerback Ron Brooks was flagged for taunting an opponent after a play. In the second half, offensive tackle Thomas Welch was penalized twice for holding. Added to four fumbles -- including a bad snap by backup center David Snow on 3rd-and-2 from the Colts' 11-yard line -- the mental lapses ensure head coach Doug Marrone will have plenty to pick apart with players in Monday's meetings.
Colin Brown gets nod: Left guard might be the most up-for-grabs position on the Bills roster, with the coaching staff making several changes at the spot through two weeks of training camp. On Sunday, Brown started and played the full first half, while Doug Legursky took over in the second half. The upcoming week in practice will shed light on how coaches feel each player performed in the opener.
Mario Williams starts, plays two series: Defensive end Williams had a slow start to training camp after telling team medical personnel that he had a sore foot. He hasn't gotten a full workload yet in practice but received the start Sunday and played two drives. On the second possession, Williams sacked Colts quarterback Andrew Luck for a 10-yard loss. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who has been eased back from Achilles surgery, also played just the first two series.
Injury update: While they had 11 players who did not dress due to injuries, the Bills had a relatively quiet game on the injury front. Welch left the game in the fourth quarter, and trainers appeared to be looking at his jaw on the sidelines.
What's next: The Bills travel back to St. John Fisher College tonight and will be back on the practice field Monday afternoon from 2:10 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. They play their next preseason game on Friday against the Minnesota Vikings at Ralph Wilson Stadium.