Sunday, December 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills
By Mike Rodak
TAMPA, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 27-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
What it means: This one was ugly. The Bills didn't come to play, and it showed. Bobby Rainey's 80-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game set the tone as the Buccaneers cruised to an easy win. The Bills drop to 1-5 on the road and are now tied for the second-worst record in the AFC. If their late-season slide continues, it will be a troubling sign for the rebuilding efforts of coach Doug Marrone and general manager Doug Whaley.
Manuel hits new low: This was EJ Manuel's worst game of the season. He was intercepted four times, although there is some question as to whether a third-quarter pick by Lavonte David was instead a fumble by Robert Woods, who was hit hard by Darrelle Revis on the play. Manuel finished 18-for-33 for 184 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. His 31.2 passer rating was a season low, and he is now 0-4 on the road with the Bills. It's far too early to write off Manuel in Buffalo, but the Bills need to start thinking about insurance if he plays poorly into next season.
Stock watch: Falling: Offensive line. It was a pitiful performance from all facets of the offense, but the play of the offensive line in particular has to sting Marrone, who has a background coaching the position. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combined for just 34 yards on 16 carries, while Manuel was sacked seven times. It's tough to pin all of that on the front five, but they were also called for a slew of penalties in the game. One embarrassing third-quarter sequence saw Marrone win a challenge that confirmed a 9-yard catch by Woods, only to have that yardage lost on back-to-back false-start penalties by Eric Wood and Erik Pears.
What's next: The 4-9 Bills will return to Florida next weekend to square off with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have won four of their past five games. It's another road test for Manuel and the young Bills, and one that could further solidify Buffalo's position near the top of the first round in the 2014 draft.