After 30 minutes of play here are four things that stood out about Buffalo's performance against the Panthers.
Good completion percentageEJ Manuel ran the first team offense on the first three possessions of the game. He led a 10-play drive and a pair of seven-play drives. He looked decisive on most of his throws and his completion percentage reflected that.
He connected on his first four passes of the game, two of which went to Sammy Watkins and had a big third down conversion to Chris Hogan to beat a five-man pass rush. His other big pass play went deep over the middle to Mike Williams for a 28-yard pickup.
Manuel completed his first seven pass attempts before an incompletion. He also averaged a respectable 7.4 yards per attempt.
Run defense steps upThe Bills run defense wanted to tighten things up after the Hall of Fame, particularly the second and third units. The starting 'D' was again strong versus the run and the second unit was equally up to the task in the first half.
Carolina averaged just 1.7 yards per carry in the first half on 10 carries. The Panthers longest run of the half came on a Kenjon Barner eight-yard rush.
Speed to burnBills RB Bryce Brown looked like he was shot out of a cannon on his first few carries last Sunday in the Hall of Fame game. He appeared no different in the latter stages of the second quarter Friday night. Though he only had a pair of carries, his 14 and 11-yard runs put Buffalo in position for their first touchdown of the game.
Brown's speed almost seemed to catch Carolina's second team defense off guard as he easily gained the corner on his second carry nearly reaching the end zone himself. His first carry was a bob and weave run that converted a 2nd-and-10 for a fresh set of downs.
Third time is a charmBuffalo's offense moved the ball effectively in the first half, but cashing in after reaching the red zone proved difficult.
On their opening possession EJ Manuel hit Chris Hogan on a 32-yard pass play to convert a 3rd-and-3 to set up 1st-and-10 at the 11. On the next four plays they gained nine yards and could not get a first down or reach the end zone. The result was a turnover on downs.
On their second possession after Robert Woods converted a 3rd-and-4 on a pass from Manuel to reach the Panthers 19, the Bills had a net gain of zero yards on three plays and had to settle for a field goal.
On their third red zone possession the Bills finally converted with Anthony 'Boobie' Dixon pounding it in from a yard out for a touchdown.