The Buffalo Bills lost more than a tough primetime game against a very improved Cleveland Browns team Thursday.
They also lost EJ Manuel and Stevie Johnson to injuries, which many believe impacted the outcome of the game.
Manuel was injured while rushing for a first down in the third quarter. The Bills ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive, but were unable to gain the Cleveland part of the field after that. Jeff Tuel looked like an undrafted free agent that was just thrown to the wolves on a big stage, which is fitting, seeing as though that is essentially what he is. Tuel began 0-4 after coming into the game, and Buffalo became one dimensional. As the Bills tried to run against a stout Browns rush defense, without a legitimate passing threat, Buffalo's chances of winning the game evaporated.
The Bills were also gashed by Travis Benjamin, who returned a punt for a touchdown, and nearly broke another return for a score. Brian Hoyer was injured early in the game, but Brandon Weeden, unlike Tuel, had plenty of experience to draw from and was very poised for Cleveland.
While the outcome of the game is leaving fans up in arms, there were plenty of highlights to take from the contest. CJ Spiller broke a 52-yard touchdown and Fred Jackson also scored twice on the ground. Three rushing touchdowns against a tough rush defense like Cleveland is no easy feat. Kiko Alonso also continued to shine for Buffalo. He looked like a veteran, reading plays and was constantly in position to make a play, which he often did.
As the Bills regroup from the defeat, they will need to figure out their quarterback situation. Manuel will be out for a few weeks, leaving just Tuel on the roster. Many fans are expecting Buffalo to make a play for newly-released Josh Freeman. But to this point, no moves have been made. Marrone may elect to allow Tuel to start against Cincinnati if Manuel can't go, thinking that a full week of practice and preparation might return a different result.
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