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Comeback effort falls short in loss to Bucs

Posted Aug 23, 2014

The Bills first team offense struggled through the majority of the first half and a turnover led to a touchdown as Buffalo found themselves in a 24-0 hole at halftime.

Final Score: Bucs 27 – Bills 14

Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY

Preseason records: Buffalo (1-3); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

In a Nutshell:  
The Bills first team offense struggled through the majority of the first half and a turnover led to a touchdown as Buffalo found themselves in a 24-0 hole at halftime.

Buffalo’s run game found yards hard to come by as EJ Manuel  and the first team offense had difficulty stringing positive plays together.

The offense rebounded in the third quarter putting together a pair of touchdown drives on back-to-back possessions (24-14), but the reserves could not close the remainder of the deficit.

The Bills defense was again pretty strong against the run, but gave up a couple of big plays deep in their own territory on each of Tampa Bay’s first half touchdown drives. 

How it went down: 
--The Bucs got on the board first midway through the first quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Doug Martin (7-0). It was Martin who set up the score with a 20-yard catch and run to convert a 3rd-and-6 at the Buffalo 22.

--Following a Buffalo drive that moved the Bills back to their own 25-yard line due mainly to penalties, a short punt gave Tampa a drive start near midfield. The Buccaneers managed a field goal on the drive as Connor Barth hit from 43 yards out.

--On the next possession EJ Manuel was sacked on a 1st-and-20 from the Bills 22 and fumbled. Tampa recovered with DL Clinton McDonald returning it 17 for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead with eight minutes left in the half.

--Tampa would tack on another touchdown with a minute remaining in the half when Josh McCown found Mike Evans in the back right corner of the end zone for a 24-yard score to make it 24-0 Bucs at the half.

--Buffalo would mount a comeback to start the second half scoring on each of their two red zone possessions. EJ Manuel found Mike Williams on a 14-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal with six minutes left in the third quarter (24-7).

--On the ensuing possession the Bills had their most efficient drive of the game marching 60 yards on just six plays before Fred Jackson found open green space on an eight-yard touchdown run to the right to make it 24-14 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

--Tampa’s reserves put together a 13-play drive that covered almost eight minutes resulting in a short field goal to make 27-14 with just under five minutes remaining.

Stat lines 
--EJ Manuel’s passing day looked a lot better following a pair of touchdown drives. He finished 19-28 for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception and a passer rating of 85.1.

--Buffalo’s defense was effective early against the Tampa run game. Starting linebackers Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers and Nigel Bradham were in on a lot of plays posting 14 tackles collectively including three tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the end zone.

--The Bills committed 12 penalties for 80 yards, seven of which came in the first half.

--Third down efficiency for the Buffalo offense was at 38 percent for the game. The Bills converted 5-of-13 third down opportunities.

--Buffalo’s defense had two sacks in the game. Tampa’s defense had five.

Subplots: 
--Preston Brown saw a series at outside linebacker in place of Nigel Bradham and a series at middle linebacker with the starters in place of Brandon Spikes. The Bills are looking for a definitive answer for a replacement for Bradham knowing he won’t play in the season opener at Chicago due to a one-game suspension.

--The Bills lost three players to injury in the first half. Marquise Goodwin sustained a neck injury. Da’Norris Searcy suffered a stinger and Lee Smith left the game with a foot injury.

--Dennis Dixon was the second quarterback to enter the game. Prior to playing against Tampa Bay Dixon had all of two snaps in the preseason. The move was likely done to give Dixon some game film to put his skill set on display.

--Corbin Bryant was Kyle Williams’ replacement on the starting defensive line with Williams inactive with a leg injury. Rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson started at left guard in place of Chris Williams, who was also inactive. 
 
--Leodis McKelvin returned to start Saturday after suffering a groin injury earlier in the week in practice and had four tackles in the game.

Quotes from the locker room
"That's obviously not good enough, but I think there's a lot of information inside of all those different things. We've got to get playmakers on the field. We've got to get them to make plays. We can't not execute well."
--Head coach Doug Marrone

"I don't think it's a step back. I think it's just a sign that we need to get back to work and fix what we did wrong. We just came out flat, and that's usually not the case for us, the first three preseason games we came out on fire. For whatever reason, we just weren't ourselves. I'm not really worried about it. We're just going to continue to get ready for Detroit and fix the things we did wrong."
--S Aaron Williams

"I wouldn’t say discouraged, but disappointment. Everybody saw what we did, with me having that fumble and turnovers and penalties that killed us. If you want to be considered one of the best you can’t have those type of things and today that took place."
--RB C.J. Spiller

"I know there’s still a ton of work for us to do. The good thing is we have two more weeks to hone in on that. I know the product that we had is not the product that we want against Chicago. We have to go into Chicago and be rolling on all cylinders on offense, defense and special teams. We just have to come back and put our work hats on and come back to work.”
--QB EJ Manuel

Inactives:  
WR Sammy Watkins, CB Mario Butler, CB Bobby Felder, S Jonathan Meeks, G Chris Williams, TE Tony Moeaki, DT Alan Branch, DT Kyle Williams

Up Next:  
The Bills will close out their preseason playing host to the Detroit Lions on Thursday Aug. 28th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm.