Everything was there for a fairy tale finish. Jeff Tuel had 2:19 to go 80 yards to pull off the comeback win in the undrafted free agent's NFL debut. More often than not, even in sports and especially for the Bills, fairy tales don't happen. Tuel had a pass intercepted by T.J. Ward and returned 44 yards for a game clinching touchdown as the Browns beat the Bills 37-24 in a wild affair in Cleveland. EJ Manuel left the game in the third quarter after taking a shot to his knee. He seemed to be moving around pretty good on the sidelines but didn't return and it is being called a sprain. It was a game of tremendous ups and downs. The Bills went ahead 10-0 on the first of two Fred Jackson one yard touchdown plunges. The Browns would score 17 unanswered points before the half was out thanks to a 79 yard punt return for a score by Travis Benjamin. The Bills responded with a 54 yard touchdown run by C.J. Spiller and Jackson's second score to regain the lead. The offense was done from there with Manuel out and the Browns got the final momentum swing and rode it to victory.
The Turning Point:
Manuel Injury: When he got hurt the Bills were going in for a go ahead touchdown. They may have got that touchdown but the offense was dead from there and the defense was deflated. The Browns dominated from that point on.
The Big Drive:
The First Cleveland TD: After the Bills defense had stuffed them on their first three possessions, Cleveland followed a field goal drive with a 14 play, 74 yard drive that took 7:10 off the clock. They tied the game and the wild affair was on. They went 4 for 4 on third downs on the drive, there only conversions of the first half including the 3rd and 1 plunge by former Bill Willis McGahee for the touchdown.
Stat I Did Like:
Rushing Yards: They ran for 155 yards on 31 carries for a five yard average. That is the second week in a row they ran very well against a top rated run defense.
Stat I Didn't Like:
Return Yards: The Browns had 267 return yards including two scores.
Quick Slants: - There were a lot of Bills fans that made the short trek to Cleveland for the game. - It was Jim Brown night with the legendary RB being honored at halftime. They wore all brown for the first time ever. - Travis Benjamin followed a 52 yard punt return with a 79 yard return for a score that gave the Browns the lead before halftime. He broke a club record with 179 punt return yards.
Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article: LT Cordy Glenn vs. DE Desmond Bryant: Winner: Bryant. He had a sack and was in the backfield a little too often. WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Joe Haden: Winner: Haden. This was by default because Johnson left the game in the first quarter with a lower back injury. DB Aaron Williams vs. TE Jordan Cameron: Winner: Williams. It wasn't really Williams on him but Cameron was held in check to three catches for 36 yards. LB Kiko Alonso vs. QB Brian Hoyer: Winner: Alonso. Literally, he knocked Hoyer out of the game with a hit.
Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out: 1. Get Banged Up Running Game Working: Success! They had more success against the Browns on the ground than any other team has this year. 2. Get Off To A Quick Start: Success! They took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter to take the crowd out of the game. Unfortunately it didn't carry over to the second quarter. 3. End Hoyer Mania: Success! Not in the way you would want to. He got hurt in the first quarter and did not finish the game.
It's hard to get too upset with loss since there are times you just have to throw your hands up and just shake your head. The Bills injury woes continued and when they lost Manuel it just took all the air out of their sails offensively and defensively. I don't remember a game with so many major momentum shifts. There were a few times I thought the Bills had control of the game unfortunately there were more times when I was almost certain they would lose it. Howard Simon of WGR tweeted it best when he said the Bills were gonna lose because their backup QB has more experience that ours. Manuel's injury likely will make them realize they need to get a veteran QB on the roster.
The Bills get what amounts to a mini-bye which is desperately needed to help a squad that is decimated with injuries. With 9 1/2 days until their next game back in Orchard Park they get a chance to heal. They have another tough matchup with a good Cincinnati Bengals team.
Manny Lawson - He was all over the field and had seven tackles, two for good losses.
Kiko Alonso - He had 12 tackles and was very active..
Dan Carpenter - He hit a 52 yard field goal and deserves to stay as the kicker.
Mario Williams - He had two sacks and three QB hits.
Jerry Hughes - Had 1½ sacks and forced a fumble.
Aaron Williams - Was beaten for a few big plays and a touchdown.
Jeff Tuel - Just wasn't prepared to come in.
Punt Coverage Units - May have cost the team the game.