Most Bills' rookies impressive in 44-20 win over Colts
The Associated Press The Associated Press
Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel did what he was asked Sunday, but judging the performance might be a bit tough, especially since he wasn't even the most impressive rookie for the Bills.
Only three of Manuel's completions went for more than nine yards and two of the incompletions were throwaways, but Manuel was solid for the most part in the short-passing game, showed he could occasionally run and even drove the Bills to a touchdown in the hurry-up offense, leading Buffalo to a 44-20 preseason victory at Indianapolis.
Manuel made mistakes, too, like botching a handoff to C.J. Spiller. He wound up 16 of 21 for just 107 yards, but gave Buffalo its first lead with a 17-yard TD pass late in the first half
It was a simple, safe game plan in the rookie's preseason debut.
Bills rookie head coach Doug Marrone, who also showed signs of inexperience, pulled Manuel after his starting QB went 9 of 10 for 68 yards and threw his only TD pass to Dorin Dickerson with 14 seconds left in the half when most of the Bills' starters were playing against an Indy defense filled with second and third stringers.
It wasn't nearly as impressive as Luck's debut last season. Luck threw a 63-yard TD pass on his first pass attempt and led the Colts past St. Louis, 38-3. Luck was 4 of 6 for 51 yards in two series on Sunday. Backup Matt Hasselbeck had one TD pass and one interception in three series.
Perhaps the most impressive Bills rookie was backup quarterback Jeff Tuel, who replaced Manuel in the third quarter and started with 10 straight completions. He led Buffalo to three scoring drives and finished 19 of 23 for 212 yards with two TDs and a rating of 134.1.
Buffalo's rookie receivers also had a big impact. Marquise Goodwin, an Olympic long jumper with world-class speed, set up the Bills' first scoring drive with a 53-yard kickoff return and tied it with a 107-yard kickoff return. Da'Rick Rogers opened the second half by catching a 6-yard TD pass to make it 27-13.
The Colts, meanwhile, played it extremely safe.
Luck moved the Colts on both series, but the first drive stalled and the second ended when Coby Fleener lost a fumble at the Bills 21-yard line. Hilton gave Indy a 13-6 lead by making a diving catch and bouncing into the end zone early on the last play of the first quarter.
The Bills played without a handful of regulars— receiver Stevie Johnson, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and tight end Scott Chandler — and injured quarterback Kevin Kolb. Safety Jairus Byrd also did not play because he has not signed his franchise tender.
Among those sitting out for the Colts were safety LaRon Landry, linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Pat Angerer and tight end Dwayne Allen.