Extra Points: Injury and insult in Cleveland

In what has recently become a nearly annual blunder bowl for the NFL, the Bills and the Browns managed to put up some points on Thursday night in their primetime showdown.

A game that I joking referred to as the Mistake by The Lake Bowl has been exactly that for the last few meetings. In fact, three of the last five meetings between the two teams (entering Thursday) saw fewer than 20 points scored in the game. That includes the game played in a blinding snowstorm in 2007 and the windswept pillow fight in 2009, two games won by the Browns with a combined 14 points scored.

Thursday night, however was anything but a snoozer. The Bills leapt to an early lead, injured the Browns starting quarterback and had snatched momentum from the home squad. However, a pair of big punt returns, a strong return effort from Brandon Weeden and an injury to EJ Manuel turned the tables on the Bills quickly. Continue reading

Bills backups roll up points, yards against Colts backups

If there’s one rule of thumb that football fans need to follow it is to not read too deeply into the results on the scoreboard from preseason games.

While the third game is typically considered the final tune up for a team’s starters, the Bills entered their 2013 slate with the opportunity to see a handful of potential starters in extended auditions during their 44-20 win over Indianapolis.

E.J. Manuel was the greatest beneficiary of the extra playing time as he ran Buffalo’s offense for the entire first half while Kevin Kolb served as the emergency quarterback due to missing time last week with a knee injury and family issue. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Manuel made the most of his opportunity, but the extra playing time certainly won’t hurt his progression.

The shining moment of his day came on a surgically precise two-minute drill to give the Bills the halftime lead. The 92-yard drive likely served as a nice confidence boost for Manuel as the 92-yard trek was really the first evidence of the swagger that was on display during his most impressive games at Florida State.

Assuming he has the upper hand in the quarterback competition, I’d say that Manuel didn’t do anything to hurt his status on the depth chart. He took care of the football and even showed how dangerous he can be outside of the pocket on a pair of runs. His touchdown pass to Dorin Dickerson was perfectly thrown and served as a perfect cap to his preseason debut.

Manuel was somewhat limited to start the day, as the Bills featured a run-heavy look to start their possessions. In addition to the majority of run calls, Manuel was a little cold off the bat when putting the ball in the air. It wasn’t until his final couple of series when he started to heat up. He had his fair share of flaws; double clutching a few throws and getting a little too cute with others. Perhaps it was a case of nerves more than anything else and Friday’s matchup against Minnesota will serve as the link in the chain for Manuel. Continue reading