Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills
November, 17, 2013
By Mike Rodak | ESPN.com
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 37-14 victory against the New York Jets:
What it means: The Bills are still alive. After a scoreless first quarter, the Bills exploded for 20 points in the second quarter and added 14 more in the third quarter to seal a win. They sacked Jets quarterback Geno Smith four times and intercepted him three times, eventually forcing the Jets to turn to backup Matt Simms. Even at 4-7, the Bills remain in the hunt for a wild-card playoff spot.
Manuel bounces back: In his second game back from a knee injury, EJ Manuel found his groove, completing 20 of 28 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Even without top receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, Manuel was successful, tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham and later adding a 43-yard scoring strike to Marquise Goodwin.
What's up with Spiller? Coming off a quiet performance in Pittsburgh, running back C.J. Spiller rushed 13 times for 6 yards on Sunday. Bills coach Doug Marrone has made it clear that Spiller, who sprained his ankle earlier in the season, is healthy, so his stat line against the Jets has to be alarming for Buffalo.
Stock watch: Falling: Special teams. The play of the Bills' other two units helped overcome several mistakes by the Bills' special teams. Cornerback Ron Brooks was flagged twice on punts, while fullback Frank Summers drew a penalty on another punt in the first quarter. The problems even extended to veteran punter Brian Moorman, who bobbled a punt snap in the third quarter and was forced to pooch kick it out of bounds. Linebacker Nigel Bradham was also flagged on that play. In a closer game, these mistakes may have been the difference.
What's next: The Bills have finally reached their bye week, one of the final four NFL teams to have a week off this season. They return to action on Dec. 1 in Toronto, beginning a five-game stretch to end their season. Entering Sunday, the combined record of their next three opponents -- the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- was 4-23.