Each week of the NFL season we’ll look at the good and bad of the Buffalo Bills effort. After their Week 2 victory that was torn from the grasp of the Carolina Panthers with a last second touchdown on Sunday afternoon there’s plenty to talk about.
This is the Mario Williams that Bills fans expected when the team signed Super Mario to a six year, $100 million contract that includes $50 million in guarantees. Williams terrorized the Panthers offensive line to the tune of 4.5 sacks, a career high and Bills team record. Williams efforts were a big reason that the Buffalo defense was able to contain Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who completed just 55% of his passes for 229 yards, and was unable to make a difference in the game.
After a Week 1 loss to the New England Patriots where he could get nothing going on the ground, there were murmurs that they hype around C.J. Spiller’s emergence was overblown. Spiller erased any doubt that he is ready for prime time, looking exactly like the Spiller of 2012 in Week 2. Spiller ran for 103 yards on just 16 carries, for a phenomenal 6.5 yards per carry. Despite the coaching staff’s preseason insistence that Spiller would get the ball “until he puked”, back-up Fred Jackson ended up with 12 carries (but just 30 yards). The key for Doug Marrone will be to find the balance where Spiller is getting enough touches, but not so many that he tires and loses the explosiveness that makes him so dynamic.
The (Not Really) Bad
After a win like Sunday’s, it is extremely difficult to pick one player or facet of the team as “bad”. While most will remember E.J. Manuel’s game through a pair of rose-coloured glasses after he marched the Bills 80-yards down the field in the final 1:36 of the game to score a game winning touchdown, Manuel did show some signs of the growing pains that are to be expected from a rookie pivot.
Early in the game, Manuel seemed a little anxious as he overthrew several of his passes to wide receivers that were very open. The moment that sticks out most to me was in first quarter shortly after the Bills picked off Cam Newton, Manuel had a receiver wide open in the end zone only to over throw him. It was the type of mistake that doesn’t tend to show up on the highlight reels but could have cost his team the game by leaving easy points on the field.
Manuel also turned the ball over for the first two times in his career, throwing his first interception and losing his first fumble. I know that turnovers happen, especially with young players, but the two turnovers could have been costly.
While Manuel did receive some help in the form of a pass interference call that wiped out an interception on the game winning drive, it’s hard not to admire the rookie’s poise in marching his team down the field in such a high pressure situation. The game winning play call was a thing of beauty, completely baffling the Panthers D, leaving Stevie Johnson wide open in the end zone.