MMQB, Peter King – Named Mario Willams defensive player of the week
Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo. The Bills have been waiting for the kind of Hall of Fame day Williams had Sunday in Orchard Park: a personal and team single-game-record 4.5 sacks of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. Seems like a long time ago—through it was only seven weeks—that there were reports of Williams not loving football and disagreeing with his team on the treatment of a foot injury. He sacked Newton on the first Carolina series and again on the second, and Buffalo wouldn’t have been able to eke out the one-point win without his big plays.
The anatomy of a win. In Buffalo, coach Doug Marrone told E.J. Manuel at the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter, with Carolina up three and driving for an insurance field goal, that he was going to burn all three timeouts. “You’ll get the ball back, down six, with about 1:40 to go, and you’ll have to go the length of the field with no timeouts, okay?’’ Marrone told Manuel. His rookie quarterback was fine with that. There was 1:38 left, actually, when the quarterback got the ball at his 20. Manuel dinked and dunked five of seven passes, got lucky when Luke Kuechly was called for pass interference on a Carolina interception, scrambled for nine yards to the Carolina 2-yard line … and then, with two seconds left at the Carolina 2, Marrone told Manuel he was either going to get a heavy blitz or heavy coverage and had to be ready for either. “He was telling me to calm down,’’ Marrone said. Here came the heavy rush. Two Carolina defenders messed up the coverage on Stevie Johnson, leaving him wide open. Touchdown. Buffalo wins, 24-23.
USA Today, Chris Strauss – Praise of EJ Manuel on the final drive
The Buffalo Bills caught some fans off guard when they traded down in the first round of April’s draft, then made Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel the first quarterback off the board with the 16th overall pick. The rookie made general manager Buddy Nix look wise on Sunday as he led a nine-play, 80 yard drive with 1:38 to go, throwing a two-yard touchdown to Stevie Johnson to give the Bills a 24-23 win. … MORE
NFL.com, Michael Silver – Stevie Johnson discusses the final drive w/ Silver
Witness what happened in Buffalo, where rookie EJ Manuel, in his second career start, led a game-winning drive that captivated the fan base of the team in the midst of the NFL’s longest playoff drought. Trailing the Carolina Panthers by six points, Manuel took over at his own 20-yard line with 1:38 to go and coolly marched the Bills downfield, to the brink of victory. … MORE
SI.com, Don Banks – Optimistic outlook for season’s prospects after win
The Bills are trying to build something this season with a rookie head coach (Doug Marrone) and a rookie quarterback, but they’re going to be fun to watch and a .500 record isn’t out of the question. Buffalo’s defense is drastically better, too, and 2012′s big free-agent signing, defensive end Mario Williams, came through with an enormous 4.5-sack showing against the Panthers, establishing a new franchise record.
FOX Sports – Best game-winning TD w/ 2 seconds left
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills. The QB didn’t look like a rookie as he capped off a nine-play, 80-yard drive in the final minutes with a nifty 2-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson.
ESPN.com, John Clayton – Gives Game Ball to Mario Williams
Defense: Mario Williams had a career day, getting 4½ sacks, six total tackles and four other hits on the quarterback in the Bills’ 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers.
ESPN.com, John Clayton – Calls Bills rejuvenated
3. Rejuvenated Bills: Doug Marrone saved Syracuse after many long years of frustration. Now the rookie coach appears doing the same for the Buffalo Bills, much faster than anyone thought. Sunday’s 24-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers was the stunner of the day. With rookie EJ Manuel at quarterback, the Bills were surprisingly competitive against the New England Patriots in Week 1. On Sunday, they beat Cam Newton, who’s still trying to figure out how to win close games in his third season.
Don’t minimize the importance of this win in the big picture. Manuel became only the fifth rookie quarterback since 1960 to register a fourth-quarter comeback in his first two games. Manuel rebounded from two turnovers to execute a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass to Steve Johnson with two seconds left. Overall, he completed 27 of 39 passes for 296 yards.
Marrone and Manuel are instant kings in Buffalo. Ron Rivera is on a different seat. His seat is heating up. Last week, the Panthers lost by five to the Seahawks. They lost Sunday by a point to a young Bills teams.
CBS Sports, Pat Kirwan – Praise for Manuel
It’s tough to make an early splash in the NFL but I am impressed with the efforts of some rookies — both coaches and players. Last week the seven first-year coaches went 2-5 with wins from Chip Kelly (Eagles) and Marc Trestman (Bears). This week they were 4-3, again led by Trestman and first-time wins by Bruce Arians (Cardinals), Doug Marrone (Bills) and Mike McCoy (Chargers).
EJ Manuel was awesome when I visited with the Bills this summer. Just like practice, he stood tall in the pocket Sunday and delivered the ball. Last week it was 27 pass attempts; this week it moved right up to 39. Manuel got his first win and is on pace for 3,500 yards and 24 touchdowns. EJ has a long way to go but there’s something special about this young man.
CBS Sports, Pete Prisco – Calls Manuel impressive – at times
• EJ Manuel drove the Bills 80 yards in a 1:36 to the winning touchdown against the Panthers. The amazing thing about that: His longest completion was 14 yards. Why did the Panthers play it so soft? Give Manuel credit, he got it done. But if a penalty doesn’t wipe out an interception he threw, his fourth quarter would have included two of them. Even so, he has been impressive at times.
CBS Sports, Will Brinson – Gives Bills a C+ in victory
EJ Manuel (a.k.a. “Edge”) led an impressive game-winning drive, going 6 for 8 down the field en route to hitting Stevie Johnson for a wide-open touchdown. Mario Williams set a franchise record with 4.5 sacks in the game and C.J. Spiller crossed the 100-yard rushing mark. There’s no reason that the Bills should’ve won this game, but they did anyway.
Bleacher Report – up 3 spots to 23
The Buffalo Bills’ first victory of the 2013 season was a credit to the rookies.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel deserves praise for the game-winning touchdown throw with two seconds left. Rookie wide receiver Robert Woods had a crucial two-point conversion catch. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso had an interception of Cam Newton in the red zone.
First-year players aren’t supposed to make this many plays, but the draft class in Buffalo came through on Sunday.
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