Sunday’s win against the Panthers had it all. It was a hard fought game with boneheaded mistakes and brilliant game-play. On a day when the team honored its Wall of Famers, you could see a little shimmer of that never-give-up Marv Levy spirit. There was a lot to take away from this week 2 match up; some good, some bad, some ugly.
EJ Manuel: Hopefully, it becomes a pattern that EJ is at the top of this list every week. His mental toughness that coach Marrone talked about when they drafted him really showed in the final drive of the game. In that drive, Manuel threw an interception that got called back on pass interference. He didn’t let it get to him. Instead, he came out with guns blazing and lead the Bills to their first win of the season under heavy pressure from the Panthers front seven. His poise and confidence are things I’ve mentioned before but, now it’s his maturity that’s shining through. He made a few shaky passes and poor decisions but, he’s a kid who just started his 2nd NFL game. After Sunday’s dramatic comeback and his performance last week, EJ has shown that he has the potential to be the quarterback of the future. I mean, when Jim Kelly is waiting in the tunnel to congratulate you after the game, you know you’re doing something right. EJ may still be learning and growing but right now, as a rookie, he’s ranked 10th overall among quarterbacks with a QB rating of 95.9. But he’s chasing his biggest fan, Jim Kelly, for the highest rookie rating of 83.3 and that was after 17 picks.
Pettine’s defense: On the list again. Mike Pettine has a unique ability to bring out the best in his players. We watched it happen for years when he was with the Jets. The Bills’ defense is exciting again. Mario Williams, the guy who has struggled to make his presence felt on the field, got 4½ sacks. He was in a weak match up but, the scheme is what made it happen. Pettine has actually developed a good rookie linebacker in Kiko Alonso (19 tackles, a sack, an interception and a recovered fumble through the first 2 weeks). That’s something that hasn’t been done in Buffalo for quite some time. Seeing an aggressive defense that has the sole purpose of trying to get the ball back is something awesome. Pettine has a good chance to let the junkyard dogs loose this Sunday as he goes back to East Rutherford and squares up against an unpredictable Jets offense.
Erik Manuel Sr.: Gets the winning game ball from his son on his birthday. EJ has the Buffalo spirit already. See photo above.
Dan Carpenter’s Leg: Yes, he made one from 55 yards and, yes, his extra point kick will be scored as a game-winner, but he has no consistency or power. In a league where more and more teams are being forced to start at their own 20 because of powerful kickers booting it through the endzone, Carpenter can barely reach the goal line with most of his attempts, allowing the other team to have chances for big returns. After missing a go-ahead 42 yarder, we can’t get Hopkins back soon enough.
Stupid Penalties: Aaron Williams has finally started to make a difference on this team and then he goes and slams into Brandon LaFell when the pass was clearly way over his head and already out of play. That kept the Panthers’ drive alive. Another stupid penalty was when fullback Frank Summers was called for holding on a 4th and 18 Carolina punt. Since the hold was before the kick, it was an automatic first down. So, instead of the defense being credited for a fantastic series, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. streaking for a 40 yard touchdown. Those are both game changing penalties. Add on the off-sides and other mental mistakes and the Bills have combined for 130 penalty yards against over the first 2 games. I hope they get an earful for that because stupid penalties are why there needed to be a last second comeback against the Pathers and why they lost in the last seconds to New England.
Turnovers: Something that followed the Bills from there tumultuous past is turnovers on critical plays. Frustrating.
– Josh Paufler