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Points after: Steelers 19, Bills 16

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PITTSBURGH -- Quick highlights from the Buffalo Bills' exhibition loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field ...

What it means: The Bills are 1-2 in the preseason, losing on a Jeff Tuel strip sack that set up the winning field goal as time expired. The Bills' first-team offense still hasn't scored a touchdown.

Starters struggle: Bills coach Doug Marrone went with his first-team offense longer than he planned because he wanted more than a field goal. Right before halftime and against the Steelers' backups on fourth-and-goal from the 3, EJ Manuel's pass intended for tight end Scott Chandler was knocked down.

QB report: All three had a giveaway. Manuel was 17 of 27 for 148 yards and an interception. ... Thad Lewis began the second half and didn't take advantage of his opportunity. He completed one of his six throws for 18 yards and an interception. ... Tuel completed five of nine throws for 48 yards.

Sammy Watkins injured: The fourth overall draft choice left the game after eight plays with a rib injury and did not return. There was no immediate update on the severity.

Fred Jackson on the offense's performance: "Incomplete. We made some plays when we had the opportunities, but there was also some left out there. That's something we definitely have to focus on."

Bills inactives: Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hamstring), tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring), offensive linemen Cordy Glenn (illness) and Chris Williams (back), linebacker Ty Powell (medical), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (hip), safety Jonathan Meeks (neck), kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).

Coming up: The Bills hold their first home preseason game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  • B662

    The Bills had better find a veteran backup. Tuel has displayed an inability to protect the ball in key situations. Neither backup can get the job done and our starter could certainly gain from some experienced mentoring.

    • angryone

      The Bills will not bring in a veteran QB as they do not want a QB controversy. Once the season starts and EJ fails to perform, the fans would be screaming for the veteran.

      • Cannibal King

        The pickin's are slim. You know your getting to the bottom of the barrel when Brady Quinn gets signed.

        • angryone

          You know you've reached the bottom of the barrel when EJ Manuel is your starting QB.

          • Jeremy Owens

            EJ Manuel is a capable back-up. What he lacks is the same thing Buffalo has not had with regularity since flutie briefly but really since Kelly. Decisiveness. The thing that separates Brady, Manning, Brees, Rogers and the other elites from what we have had at QB is quick decision making. Those guys know where they are throwing as soon as they the ball is snapped (In Manning's case the dude seems to know where he is throwing before the defense even calls its play. Its kinda scary really).
            If you have to stop and think a lot in the NFL you are toast. And Manuel never seems sure of himself at all.

          • jwdundee

            The sad part is the Bills could have had Peyton Manning had they taken a chance on him. After his surgery nobody wanted him and Denver was the only one to take a chance. Instead we take chances on these bums. It would've been worth the money to have him even if he didn't play. It would have brought class and a winning mindset to this sinking ship that has none.

          • JT

            Peyton Manning would NEVER i repeat NEVER going to play for the Buffalo Bills. Have you been smoking crack?

          • jwdundee

            Who says? Did they even offer anything to him? Anyone will do anything for the right price. He had something to prove. Just another missed opportunity at one bills drive.

          • angryone

            Wow! I could not agree more. You are right on the money. It's why a lot of talented draft picks don't make it in the NFL. From little league thru high school and college, they are taught to throw it to the open receiver. In the NFL, you need to throw it before the guy is open. You have to understand the play, know the routes your receivers are running and how each individual runs it, read the defense and the coverage and know where you are going to throw it BEFORE the receiver makes his break. As you said, if you hesitate even a micro second, you're too late. EJ is not making fast enough decisions on where to go with the ball, and/or not trusting himself and therefore, not pulling the trigger fast enough. Just tonight, on the first drive when he was "4 of 5," he checked down to the running back twice and the tight end once because he couldn't find a receiver, and scrambled on a play when he couldn't find a receiver. It's not always bad to check down or scramble, but when you are doing it on more than half of your called pass plays, it indicates a problem. Especially when you have Watkins, Wood and Williams as receivers. I know these guys are running good routes and getting open. Of course, EJ's accuracy isn't the best either. The play in which Watkins got hurt, EJ threw the ball at his feet. The interception was an under throw, and several others were off target including the 4th and goal pass the Chandler. Even some of the completions were plays the receiver had to go after the ball because it was not thrown where it should have been. I, personally, don't think EJ will ever be a franchise QB.

          • repomania

            EJ lacks the "it" factor, which is huge.

      • JT

        There was more than a few in last years draft that are far better than Manuel. I was in shocked after the draft the Bills didnt take one.Cyrus was a complete wasted pick.

      • repomania

        So that's a bad thing?

  • buffaloboy

    Manuel seems like a nice young man but so far as a QB...robotic.

  • gsk08

    Cyrus the turnstile 2d round pick - another in a long line of draft day mistakes by this organization - the sooner the Bills are sold the better - maybe the new owners will find some front office pros who actually know talent...

    • Cannibal King

      AMEN! Easy stuff like signing a veteran QB to mentor and play if EJ boots it. Doesn't everybody do that? The Bills have 3 of the worst QBs and they don't get one for "just in case"?

    • JT

      Cyrus is just proving why he slipped out of first round. The guy is just too slow on his feet to play tackle in the NFL.

      • Rollo Tomasei

        See above! (oh great draft expert)

    • Rollo Tomasei

      He is a rookie who has played 3 games

    • TCarlucci

      gsk08 - Your comment is both inaccurate and insulting. Real turnstiles actually slow people down and offer some resistance. You should apologize to the turnstiles out there whom you have offended!

  • Cannibal King

    That was way too many words for the QB report. Should read: All 3 played like sh*t. Pretty simple.

    • JT

      The Bills should have drafted McCarron or Zach Mettenburger.Both guys are far better then Teul or lewis. And would have proven to be better then Manuel.I know its only preseason but my gut tells me this is just a preview of whats to come.All three of these guys suck

  • fc23

    gsk08 so cj spiller eric wood robert woods kiko alonso cordy glenn marcell dareus kyle williams sammy watkins aren't all good draft picks? Exactly you don't know football or the bills so stop talking.

    • JT

      The last couple drafts havent been bad but if you think poor drafting isnt the reason this team hasnt made the playoffs in 15 years/Well then your just plain stupid.Fans like you still think Gilmour was a great pick and a solid CB.I have news for you the guy is just a step too slow to be a good CB in the NfL

      • fc23

        umm first off it's gillmore and second how about the fact that they got mario williams in free agency resigned eric wood got brandon spikes to help run defense. If all you're gonna do is dog the bills and say they're idiots for not getting this player or signing this player than don't watch the bills. Try looking at the positives cause i'm sure every person commenting including on this wouldn't know the first clue on how to be a gm or how to coach.

        • El Kabong

          Actually it's Gilmore.

        • Cannibal King

          Spikes better not have to turn around and cover or we'll all be watching him get burned just like the NE fans. More than half of the plays are passes now and the Bills go get a 2 down run specialist... brilliant. Whether or not we know how to GM or coach, we know what we see and read from those who capture analytics.

          • fc23

            They didn't get him for the pass. They got him to help are run d which was horrible last year. Kiko was going to be the one for the pass but things didn't go that way.

    • gsk08

      CJ while a great potental player, was not needed at the time. Cordy Glenn has not even made it on field yet, Darius is likely to be suspended for juvenile delinquency... think of the wasted picks that could have been real players - McKelvin, Gilmore, Manuel, Cyrus,

      • Polish Prince

        ...Aaron Maybin....

        • gsk08

          Oh yeah that "franchise" first round pick... add Donte Wintner to that group (instead of Nagata)

      • fc23

        Okay so just because glenn hasn't made it to the field this year when he hasn't missed a game yet in his career he is a bust? Yeah exactly. And i'm sure you wern't saying that about cj when he made the pro bowl. And "dareus" even though he has legal troubles is still a great pick as he is a pro bowl caliber player and can change a game. just shut up and stop nit picking if you want to complain about the bills then here is what you do... DON'T WATCH THEM. i'm only 17 and i know more about the bills then you.

  • Paul Bruhns

    Ben Rothlisburger went in and hit 2 strike touchdown passes against our first string defense. 8 of 11 for 128 yards and then he was done for the night. AND WE STILL THINK EJ HAS IT?

  • Rollo Tomasei

    It is just great to read comments on here from former college and pro football players,coaches and scouts.To inform myself and educate myself from those with a vast amount of experience at either playing,coaching or scouting at the professional level.

    • gsk08

      Keep drinking the Kool-aide - it will only bring you aggravation and disappointment - this team has no QB and several lar holes

      • Cannibal King

        Or death in the case of the People's Temple Agricultural Project...

        • Rollo Tomasei

          uh?...ok?

        • Bubbles

          The Bills should sign Powers Boothe

      • Rollo Tomasei

        "drinking Kool-Aide".Very original!.Skip your normal "Glee" re-runs to think up that one did you?

        "What is a "Lar hole" exactly?

  • Polish Prince

    As noted in multiple prior posts, EJ can't make NFL throws especially in the red zone where the playing field is compressed and the QB has to make quick tight throws in coverage.

    On the 4th down play at the end of the first half, Manuel stared straight at Chandler and looked at no other option even though the line gave him plenty of protection. A receiver behind Chandler was open and was looking for the ball. Manuel then predictably threw the ball at Chandler, which was easily knocked down by the defender since he just watched Manuel's eyes.

    Same thing on the pick. EJ can't complete a 15 yard pass unless he stares at the receiver the entire time, and yet he he still failed to see triple coverage and threw the pick.

    The sad thing is that EJ is by far the best QB on the roster. They should cut Tuel and Lewis this week and look for a veteran somewhere out there.....

    And now Watkins is injured? 3-13....if they are lucky

    • JT

      They made their bed with Manuel and now they are going to slleep in it.Your comment is spot on. People dont want to hear the truth.

      • repomania

        Well they are seeing the truth and it's not pretty.

    • Jemeagle

      Personally, I'd like to see Tuel play regularly with the first stringers. If they ever give Tuel the time they've wasted on Manuel, he'll do a much better job than Manuel has. They should trade EJ the first chance they get! The guy will never make it as a #1 QB in the NFL for anyone! Am I saying that Tuel could be a #1? No, but I do like him better than EJ.

    • Rollo Tomasei

      A veteran Qb such as whom?

      Watkins will be fine

      Gilmore gets beat for a TD and you wan tot cut him?

  • gsk08

    I would like to hear Coach Marrone and Coach Schwartz rip this team a new one - there is enough talent to compete...

    • Matt F

      Completely agree, and it p-s me off that the coaches, the GM, AND the players (EJ in particular) don't just say it when they play poorly. They should focus on the negative, NOT the positive. Did you see Whaley's and Marrone's halftime interviews? Marrone should have been, something like, "Im so disappointed, we have so much work to do at all positions. A poor performance by both sides this 1st half." And Whaley, essentially said the same thing, "Were pleased we moved the ball...blah blah...but we need to take advantage of the opportunities..." Come on guys, you played like sheeeeit in the 1st half. EJ, CPT Checkdown, doesn't have it...he's just not a winner. Gonna be a long year. And Gilmore ain't good. He gets beat all the time since he got here. But it makes me mad they appear to be ok with mediocrity. Get mad!!

  • B H

    The only place I see this team going is to Toronto.

  • Sweet Pea

    I said this last year and I am going to say it Again!!! I did not like the pick of EJ and I still do not like it this guy is a back up at best but what puzzles me the thought of our GM saying that there was No! need to bring in another QB because he felt good in what we have...News flash!!!! big mistake and yes I have to agree with JT & the Polish Prince with the exception of Gilmore although he has gotten beaten in the last 2 games I think he will be ok but I really think Cory Graham is going to be a great addition he is looking solid and aggressive.

    • Polish Prince

      Graham played well

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.