Bills Comeback To Beat Panthers 24-23 Manuel Hits Johnson from two yards out with :02 left to get his first win. by Steve Saslow
The Skinny: EJ Manuel hit Stevie Johnson for a two yard touchdown pass with :02 to go to give the Bills a 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Bills defense held the Panthers to three field goals in the fourth quarter after Manuel turned the ball over on two straight possessions leading to three points each time. Mario Williams had his best day as a pro with four and a half sacks as he terrorized Cam Newton all day long. After the Panthers went up 23-17 with 1:38 to play the Bills went 80 yards in 9 plays to the winning score. The big play on the drive was an interception that was overturned by a pass interference penalty. Manuel finished 27 of 39 for 296 yards in the game. Stevie Johnson caught 8 passes for 111 yards and C.J.Spiller had 103 yards on just 16 carries.
The Turning Point:
Late Panthers Penalty: There were so many topsy turvy plays in this game but with the Bills driving for the winning score, the final turning point was an interception that was called back. On 3rd and 6 from the Panthers 31 on the final drive. Manuel was picked off by Colin Jones that would have ended the game but Luke Kuechly was called for pass interference giving the Bills a first and 10 at the Panthers 11.
The Big Drive:
The Final Drive: Obviously the drive of the game was the final one. Manuel shook off two fourth quarter turnovers and took the team 80 yards in 9 plays for the winning score. He added a big 9 yard run after the Kuechly penalty to setup the winning scoring pass. On the drive he hit Spiller for 12 yards and Fred Jackson for a 14 yard catch to get the drive moving. Johnson also caught an 11 yard pass on the drive.
Stat I Did Like:
Williams' Sack Total: 4 and a half sacks showed that he can still be dominant.
Stat I Didn't Like:
Penalties: They were better but still not good with seven penalties for 55 yards including a couple of bad ones at bad moments.
Quick Slants: - Manuel became the fifth rookie QB since 1960 to engineer a last minute game winning TD drive in his first or second game. - Doug Marrone was emotional after the game because of the sudden death of a colleague from his days at Syracuse. - The Wall of Fame ceremony was stirring but Ralph Wilson wasn't there after admitting it is too hard for him to travel.
Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article: RB C.J. Spiller vs. LB Luke Kuechly: Winner: Spiller. He ran much better in this game and went over 100 yards. WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Captain Munnerlyn: Winner: Johnson. No drops, eight catches, and the game winning score. CB Leodis McKelvin vs. WR Steve Smith: Winner: McKelvin. Another solid effort in coverage. Smith had 5 catches for 52 yards. DE Mario Williams vs. LT Jordan Gross: Winner: Williams. Record sack game says it all.
Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out: 1. Contain Newton: Success! He had only 15 yards rushing as he didn't hurt them with his feet. 2. Stop Big Pass Play: Success! Newton tried to go downfield but never could connect with receivers with the exception of the 40 yard touchdown pass to Ginn Jr. 3. Third Down Success: Success! Still gave up too many third downs on defense as the Panthers converted on 44% but the Bills converted on 43% of their own to help with the time of possession.
It was one of the most exciting games I have been at in a long time. It was exciting to see Manuel bring the team down for a winning score. There is still much to build on but this team is showing that they want to accelerate the rebuilding process and it will be fun to watch.
The Bills hit the road for the first time this year as they travel to New Jersey to take on the division rival Jets.
Mario Wiliams - Had a career high and team record 4 and a half sacks.
Stevie Johnson - Rebounded nicely with 111 yards on eight receptions and the winning TD catch.
EJ Manuel - Had his first career comeback win. Hopefully there will be many more.
C.J. Spiller - Nice bounce back game for him as well as he went over 100 yards.
Kiko Alonso - Had 10 tackles, a sack, and an interception. Nice start to his career.
Aaron Williams - Had a boneheaded penalty that heart them but led the way with 12 tackles and made a lot of plays.
None - Great team win!
Player Of The Week
Mario Williams - He was dominant in this game and definitely earned his money this week.