E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills (1-1) came back home with one thing on their mind – their first win of the season.
Manuel finished the night completing 27 of his 39 pass attempts for 296 yards and a single touchdown en route to a 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers (0-2).
On the other side of things, Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton finished the day completing 21 of his 38 pass attempts for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Newton also threw an interception.
“E.J. Manuel had a strategic plan and executed it to a tee on that last drive, I just feel as if we didn’t make enough plays, we had our opportunities, we just didn’t make enough,” said Newton following the game.
“As a team, we have relentless guys on our team, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will continue to push forward to become a better team and as far as quitting there will be none of that.”
Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams ended the game with a total of 4.5 sacks for the Bills, breaking a team record for sacks in a single game.
The rookie quarterback complimented his performance in week one against the New England Patriots as he drove the Bills down the field and found Stevie Johnson for a two-yard touchdown pass with two seconds remaining in the game.
Following his first turnovers of the season Manuel’s mindset remained unchanged.
“The good thing about coach [Nathaniel] Hackett is that he doesn’t get flustered as a coach, so when you go back and communicate with him on the headset he’s not yelling or freaking out about the situation,” said Manuel during the post game press conference.
“You just move onto the next drive and move forward from it so it helped me out a lot.”
Manuel’s ball security was put to the test late in the third, as the Carolina Panthers were able to force the rookie to make his first turnover of the season, placing the Panthers within field goal range.
Following the turnover, the Bills’ defence didn’t budge, forcing the Panthers to kick a 27-yard field goal, giving them a 17-14 lead with just under 13 minutes to go in the fourth.
A holding call on a punt by Frank Summers cost the Bills a change of possession with 8:40 left in the third. Carolina took advantage of Buffalo’s mishap, as Newton was able to find Ted Ginn Jr. for a 40-yard touchdown reception, giving the Panthers a 14-6 lead.
The Bills didn’t let that get to them as Manuel answered back with a big play of his own, finding receiver Stevie Johnson for a 45-yard strike. Running back Fred Jackson capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown carry, followed by a two-point conversion that tied things up at 14 apiece.
Manuel fired out of the gate with an up-tempo attack to start the second half, leading the Bills to their second field goal of the day on a 12-play drive where Manuel completed six of his eight pass attempts.
Buffalo took an early lead following a 10 play, 43-yard drive as kicker Dan Carpenter successfully kicked a 55-yard field goal, putting the Bills up 3-0.
Newton capped Carolina’s final drive of the first half with a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end and security blanket Greg Olsen, shifting the momentum onto Carolina’s side as they held a 7-3 lead at the half.
Carolina opened up the game on the receiving end but their first drive had come to a close as Bills’ rookie linebacker Kiko Alonzo intercepted a second down pass made by Newton.
On the ensuing drive the Bills’ quarterback E.J. Manuel connected with a 34-yard screen pass to fullback Frank Summers. Buffalo was stopped short on a third down and Carpenter was unable to chip in a 42-yard field goal attempt.
Both defences were on display early as neither team was able to put points on the board before the end of the first quarter.
If putting pressure on the quarterback was the focus of this Bills’ defense they certainly got it done, sacking Newton a total of four times in the first half. Defensive end Mario Williams recorded three of the team’s four first half sacks.
Notes: Carolina cornerback Josh Thomas (head) left the game in the 2nd quarter … Panthers’ defensive end Charles Johnson, cornerback Josh Norman and strong safety Charles Godfrey were all injured in the 3rd quarter and will be out for the season.