Posted September 15, 2013

EJ Manuel takes advantage of Luke Kuechly penalty for dramatic win

AFC East, Buffalo Bills
EJ Manuel drove the Bills 80 yards in the fourth quarter, propelling Buffalo to 1-1.

EJ Manuel drove the Bills 80 yards in the fourth quarter, propelling Buffalo to 1-1. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

The Bills felt like they let one get away against New England last week. EJ Manuel made sure to prevent a repeat performance on Sunday — with a little help from a timely pass interference penalty.

Manuel, making his second career NFL start, led a spectacular 80-yard touchdown drive in the final 1:38 against Carolina, capping it with a two-yard TD pass to a wide-open Stevie Johnson for the 24-23 win. The rookie was 6-for-8 on Buffalo’s game-winning possession.

The real key play of the drive, though? A pass interference call on Carolina’s Luke Kuechly. That penalty came on a 3rd-and-6 with just 21 seconds left and the Bills still 31 yards from the end zone. The Panthers appeared to have the game iced, as Colin Jones picked off a Manuel pass, but Kuechly was flagged for pass interference. That moved the ball all the way to the Carolina 11 and gave possession back to the Bills.

Manuel took advantage, scrambling down to the Panthers’ 2 on the next play, setting up his TD toss to Johnson.

The finish was so dramatic and exciting that even the Bills’ official Twitter account lost track of exactly what was occurring:

The Panthers had one last desperation opportunity to answer, but Cam Newton was taken down for a 16-yard sack by Kiko Alonso as time expired.

It was a brutal end for Newton, who finished the game with 229 yards passing and two touchdowns. However, the Panthers settled for three field goals of less than 40 yards in the fourth quarter, unable to punch it into the end zone and seal the game. Newton also killed the game’s first drive by firing an interception to Alonso.

Manuel tossed an INT of his own later — Kuechly nabbed a 2nd-and-9 pass in the fourth quarter to set up one of those short Graham Gano field goals. But he came through when he needed to at the end, with a major assist from Kuechly, to get the Bills to 1-1.

And an added bonus for Manuel: Win No. 1 came on his dad’s birthday.

“I think we were both crying and just elated about the situation, being that it’s the first win and like I said, it’s his birthday,” an emotional Manuel said after the game. “My dad has been to all my games since I was six years old so nothing’s changed. To see his face up in there before the game is awesome. Like I said, to have him in this opportunity and this situation is great.”

5 comments
Oldfan
Oldfan

I will say I was shocked to see the officials call pass interference on the Panthers late in the game.  Up until that point, the flags only seemed to come out when it hurt the Bills the most.  Do you know that the Panther's offensive line was not called for holding even once all game.  And it was not until the third quarter before the first yellow hankie came out against the Panthers.  Those guys on Carolina's O-line must be really, really good and clean players and they were just stretching out the Bills' jersey's to help them fit better.  I will agree that the officiating was extremely biased, and in the overwhelming majority, in favor of the Panthers.  Why is my question?  It was not that lopsided on penalties committed.  But very lopsided on penalties called, and the timing of when those flags were thrown over four quarters is evidence that something was amiss.  I am just as baffled then that the final flag would be in favor of Buffalo.  Late effort to cover a bias?  Not sure what the NFL has in mind for Buffalo, but they certainly have somehow communicated (likely not in writing) to the referees that is open season on Buffalo.

Hola
Hola

Sorry...but there was NO pass interference on that play.  Football is the easiest game to fix.  The NFL officials are horrible.

cmackisthe1
cmackisthe1

great win with a young q.b. the third youngest team in the n.f.l. and a rookie head coach. bodes well for the future. GO BILLS.

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

@cmackisthe1 EJ is looking great, very happy for the Bills they took a chance on him and so far its working out.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@cmackisthe1 Yeah, they've played two good games. It would be nice to see someone besides the Patriots win that division.