The loss of Buffalo's two best receivers brought about concern for offensive production against a top ranked Jets defense Sunday, but three young receivers eliminated all qualms after they caught two touchdowns and 184 of the team's 245 receiving yards.
"I think some people were down that we lost Stevie (Johnson), which we were down about, and Robert Woods; they're both good players," head coach Doug Marrone said.
But Marquise Goodwin, T.J. Graham and Chris Hogan stepped up big in the absence of the two injured starters.
"Those other guys stepped it up and really made some plays for us," Marrone said. "We have guys with excellent speed in T.J. (Graham) and Marquise Goodwin."
"We just trusted our receivers," quarterback E.J. Manuel said. "We're very thankful that they came out and they were focused, they were ready to go. They knew that the ball was coming to them and made great plays for us."
The two young wide receivers — Goodwin drafted this past spring, and Graham drafted in 2012 — made up more than half of Buffalo's offensive production, with a combined 155 yards on eight receptions. Goodwin also chipped in 17 yards on a run play and 26 on his only kick return.
Goodwin set personal records for both his receptions caught and yards produced off catches (6-81) in a single game. Graham's 74 receiving yards tied his personal record which he established in Cincinnati in Week Six.
"It's a big confidence booster for the team," Goodwin said. "Coming off of three and seven, and being able to go out there and execute in the way that we did and the fashion we did. It definitely gives confidence to the whole team, we've just got to keep rolling off of that"
Goodwin again showed his ability to blow past man coverage; he caught three passes of 10 or more yards. But Goodwin said he gives his credit to the rest of the offense.
"I have the easiest job on the field. Just run fast down the field," he said.
His speed propelled him past Antonio Cromartie on a 44-yard-touchdown which marked his third touchdown in the team's last three home games.
"I just slipped inside on him, I just put my head down and dug," Goodwin said. "The ball was in the air and I just went to go get it. It's as simple as that"
A similarly long play led to Manuel's other touchdown pass, which went to T.J. Graham — their first touchdown connection on the season. Graham said the pass didn't exactly go as intended in the huddle — wind was a major factor.
"Most of the time running the go-route, you really don't look all the way back to the quarterback, you kind of look to the center of the field and see where the ball is," Graham said. "But that ball traveled, and it just kind of floated and stopped, and luckily it was more like a back shoulder pass."
Marrone noted another wide receiver's success in the 37-14 victory.
"I think Chris Hogan, give him credit, he made a big catch on that third down," Marrone said. "He had three catches for the game for 29 yards, he did a nice job."
In arguably Hogan's most productive game to date, he picked up two third down conversions — one leading up to a Dan Carpenter field goal — and two passes for over 10 yards each.
"I think it was big for me," Hogan said. "To just kind of step up and prove to people that I can step in there and play, so it wasn't a defining moment, but it was good to get out there and do what I did."
Buffalo won't hit the field again until week 13 with the team now headed into their bye week.
"I get to go home with a smile on my face, but work is not done," Graham said. "We've got to come back to the Falcons in Toronto and play well there."