Sunday, December 1, 2013
Halftime thoughts: Bills 17, Falcons 17
By Mike Rodak
TORONTO -- Offering some halftime thoughts as the Buffalo Bills are tied 17-17 against the Atlanta Falcons:
1. Quite the up-and-down half for the Bills. After taking an early 14-0 lead, they've allowed the Falcons to stay in this game. Who's to blame? It's been the Bills' run defense, which has allowed Steven Jackson (27 yards) and Antone Smith (38 yards) to walk into the end zone on all-too-easy touchdown runs.
2. Speaking of running backs, C.J. Spiller broke off the longest run of his career on the Bills' first drive. His 77-yard dash led to a 1-yard touchdown run by EJ Manuel. The initial ruling was that Manuel did not cross the plane, but the Bills challenged and won. It's the first time coach Doug Marrone has been successful in five challenges this season.
3. Some injury notes to monitor: Manuel was drilled by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in his ribs after an incomplete pass in the first quarter. Weatherspoon was flagged on the play, and Manuel stayed down for a few minutes. He was replaced by Thad Lewis for one play, but returned to the field. Meanwhile, Spiller has been seen jogging on the sidelines, a sign that his injured ankle still might not be right. Spiller has 105 yards on nine carries.
4. It didn't look to be the case just before kickoff, but there is a decent crowd. The lower bowl of the Rogers Centre is mostly full, while the upper bowl is generally full from end zone to end zone, with a large area of empty seats behind the end zone. Both teams have received loud cheers today, making the Bills home-away-from-home more like a neutral venue.