Saturday, August 15, 2015

Panthers steal win from Bills late, 25-24

In a Nutshell: In a game where neither team ever led by more than a touchdown, Buffalo looked like they had put the final points on the board late in the third quarter as a 51-yard touchdown pass from EJ Manuel to Deonte Thompson looked like it would be the difference putting the Bills ahead 24-17. But with under a minute to play Joe Webb hit Brandon Wegher for a 42-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Carolina then was successful on the two-point conversion as Webb hit Paul Browning to steal a 25-24 win for the Panthers in Rex Ryan’s debut as head coach of the Bills.
Matt Cassel was an efficient passer going 7-8 passing for 45 yards as the starting quarterback. Tyrod Taylor was the second quarterback in and was 5-8 passing for 49 yards with 47 yards rushing on six carries. He also was responsible for both of Buffalo’s first-half scoring drives. Manuel worked with the third unit and was 4-8 passing for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo’s offense was effective running the football averaging 4.6 yards per carry on the night with 45 rushes for a total of 206 yards. They were also two for three on red zone opportunities and reached the end zone in both of their goal-to-go situations.
The first team defense was very effective against the run early, but did give up an 80-yard touchdown drive. The defense was effective on third down throughout the game holding Carolina to 3-of-11 on third down conversions (27%).
How it went down: --Buffalo got on the board first whenKarlos Williams capped an eight-play 65-yard drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone for a 7-0 lead at the 12:54 mark of the first quarter. Tyrod Taylor rushed three times for 35 yards on the scoring march.

--Carolina answered on the ensuing possession with Ted Ginn (38 yards), Kelvin Benjamin (19 yards) and Greg Olsen (nine yards) all catching passes on the 80-yard scoring drive before Benjamin pulled in a two-yard touchdown catch with 9:15 left in the opening quarter.
--The Bills would respond on the very next series with Bryce Brown finishing off a 90-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Brown had 33 yards on four carries on the drive. (14-7)
--The Panthers would cut into the Bills’ seven-point lead with a 47-yard Graham Gano field goal with just two seconds left in the half (14-10).
--Carolina would then take their first lead of the game early in the third quarter (17-14) on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Derek Anderson to Brenton Bersin. The Panthers had four “chunk” plays on the drive of 34, 16, 12 and 12 yards.
--Though the Buffalo offense couldn’t gain much in the way of yardage K Jordan Gaybailed them out with a 52-yard field goal to tie the game with six minutes left in the third quarter (17-17).
--The Bills were then able to re-take the lead late in the third quarter on a 51-yard bomb from EJ Manuel to Deonte Thompson on a deep post for a score (24-17).
--Carolina pulled ahead with under a minute to play when RB Brandon Wegher took a short dump pass from Joe Webb and found lots of running room going 42 yards to the end zone. Webb then hit Paul Browning for a two-point conversion and a one-point lead (25-24).
From the locker room
"You have three guys battling you want it to be a hard decision with all three guys that all three are playing to a good level. They clearly did (Friday) and I think it’s impossible to say they didn’t play well. All three of them did. So make that thing as hard as possible and again we’ll make the decision at the right time to make it.”
--Head coach Rex Ryan on the QBs
“They went good. We were able to get the ball down the field. Hit some big third downs. On the first one, we were able to capitalize at the end. That is always good when you can finish drives with touchdowns instead of three points.”
-- Tyrod Taylor on the first half scoring drives
“I think we did alright. We didn’t do great; we let them get an 80-yard drive so that wasn’t good. We stopped the run and we made some plays out there, but we got a lot to learn from.”
--Stephon Gilmore on the first team defense
“I thought the quarterbacks played excellent.  I thought the linemen played very, very, very well.”
--LeSean McCoy
“We did well. We shut down the run and that’s the thing we want to do, but we didn’t want to give them a TD as a first team defense. So we got to get better there. But overall it was a good first half.”
--Preston Brown
Subplots:
Tyrod Taylor, as expected was the second quarterback into the game after starter Matt Cassel. Taylor led the team’s two first-half scoring drives and finished the day with almost as many rushing yards (47) as passing yards (49).
Buffalo’s first team defense had a pair of three-and-outs and a five-play drive surrendered. Their run defense was stout early as they allowed just three yards on the Panthers’ first five carries. Carolina did however, put together a seven-play 80-yard drive for a touchdown against the Bills’ starting ‘D’.

Ronald Darby was a target of the Carolina passing game. The Panthers matched up some of their tallest receivers against him including Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Four passes were completed against Darby for 91 yards, one of which went for a touchdown. Darby did have a good pass breakup on a jump ball in the end zone intended for Funchess. He had two pass breakups and three tackles in the game.
IK Enemkpali saw action right before the two-minute warning in the first half. He showed power off the edge, but committed an offsides penalty. He took the place of undrafted rookie Andrew Hudson with the second unit. Hudson rotated in later.
Marcus Thigpen was the first to return kicks and punts. He had an effective night on punt returns with both going for 19 yards each.
Buffalo lost a couple of defensive linemen to injury in the game. DT Corbin Bryant and DE Jarius Wynn both sustained knee injuries.
Up next: The Bills will be on the road next Thursday night in Cleveland to face the Browns. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 pm.

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