ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Rookie QB E.J. Manuel has his first NFL victory, and what a way to get it.Manuel led his team on a 9 play, 80- yard scoring drive with no timeouts and only 1:36 left on the clock. Dan Carpenter capped the win with his extra point conversion, after Stevie Johnson pulled in the 2-yard TD pass.
Coach Doug Marrone teared up in the post game press conference when he talked about the recent death of a friend in Syracuse, Rob Edson, the Athletic Director at Onondaga Community College. "I know that Rob was watching, and I can't stop thinking about that, when that game was coming down to the end. My prayers go out to him and his family."
Marrone went onto say that Manuel had stretches where he made poor decisions but "he has a quality where he is able to get back on track and that is a good quality."Marrone added "He's our quarterback, we expect him to lead us down the field and score."
The final drive was not Manuel's only impressive run of the game. The Bills came out strong in the second half. Manuel went 6 for 7, driving the ball 75 yards. The Bills failed to reach the endzone and settled for a field goal.
Again mistakes hurt the Bills. It looked like they were about to come back on the next set of downs by forcing the Panthers to a 3 and out situation, but a penalty on the punt gave Carolina a first down. Cam Newton capped that drive with a 40 yard TD pass to Ted Ginn.
But the Bills were not going away, the very next possession, Buffalo engineered an 8 play, 80-yard scoring drive, with Fred Jackson plunging in from 2 yards out. Manuel then connected with Robert Woods on a two-point conversion and a 14-14 tie.
The kickers then took the spotlight as Graham Gano hit three for Carolinaand Cam Carpenter nailed one, making the score 23-17 heading into that final, dramatic drive by Manuel & Co worked the two-minute drill to perfection.
Manuel went 27/39 for 296 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. CJ Spiller racked up 103 yards on 16 carries, Johnson had 111 yards on 8 receptions.