Thursday, October 3, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills
By Mike Rodak
CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 37-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
What it means for Bills: The Bills lost their second road game and fell to 2-3 overall, but the big story is the health of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. The 16th overall pick in April's NFL draft suffered a knee injury when he was hit by a Browns defender after scrambling for a first down in the third quarter. Manuel was replaced by undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel. Tuel and the Bills couldn't overcome their injuries against the Browns, despite their loss starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer, to a knee injury in the first quarter. With a chance to erase a six-point deficit late in the game, Tuel instead threw a pick-six, sealing the defeat. For the Bills, who have shaken off numerous injuries this season, Manuel's injury was one too many and bears watching in the coming days.
Johnson injures back: Both Bills quarterbacks in this game were without their top receiver for much of the contest. Steve Johnson left the game in the second quarter with a back injury, initially staying on the sideline. He came back into the game later in the half but then departed for the locker room and did not return.
Stock watch: Punter Shawn Powell and the Bills' punt-coverage unit had a tough time corralling Browns returner Travis Benjamin in the first half. After a 57-yard return set up a Browns field goal, Benjamin returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. He finished with 179 punt-return yards, setting a Browns team record.
Hobbled Spiller scores: Running back C.J. Spiller, who entered the game nursing an ankle injury, was used sparingly in the first half, carrying just twice for 3 yards. But on the third play of the second half, Spiller broke off a 54-yard touchdown run, tying the game. He limped his way back to the sideline and had a member of the equipment staff keep the ball. Spiller gained just 7 yards after the touchdown.
What's next: The Bills have nine days until their next game, when they will host another AFC North team, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Oct. 13 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.