Sunday, September 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Bills 24, Panthers 23
By Mike Rodak
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 24-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
What it means for Bills: Big comeback win for EJ Manuel, who led the Bills on an 80-yard drive with 1:38 remaining and no timeouts. The biggest play of the drive was a pass-interference penalty on the Panthers, giving the Bills a fresh set of downs in the Panthers' red zone. Manuel then found Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown catch with two seconds remaining. The Bills avoided an 0-2 start, but barely. Too many penalties and turnovers for them in this game.
Stock watch: Falling -- Manuel. After avoiding critical mistakes in the opener, Manuel was strip-sacked and then intercepted on back-to-back drives in the second half. Both turnovers came deep in Bills territory, but the Bills' defense was able to bail him out, holding the Panthers to field goals both times. Manuel's best throws of the game came in the middle of the field. He struggled in the red zone until the last drive, when he found Johnson, who was wide open.
Mario Williams sets team record: Defensive end Mario Williams notched 4.5 sacks in the game, setting both team and personal records. Williams' previous career high was 3.5 sacks on Dec. 13, 2007, when he was a member of the Houston Texans.
Penalties problematic, again: The penalty problem just gets worse for the Bills. In the third quarter, fullback Frank Summers was flagged for a holding penalty on a fourth-and-18 punt, giving the Panthers the first down. Carolina turned the opportunity into a touchdown. Later in the quarter, safety Aaron Williams was penalized for unnecessary roughness on third-and-12, but the Panthers couldn't capitalize on the gift first down.
What's next: The Bills (1-1) make their first road trip in nearly a month, traveling to face the New York Jets. It's the Bills' second AFC East tilt in their first three games. The Bills play just five more games at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season, and just once after Nov. 17.