The Buffalo Bills beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens 23-20 this past Sunday. Next up, the Bills travel to Cleveland for a Thursday night primetime game.
The Bills held off the Ravens led by 5 interceptions of Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Aaron Williams had 2 interceptions as did rookie ILB Kiko Alonso, and Jim Leonhard had 1 as well.
All of the close calls seemed to be going the Ravens’ way in this one, yet the Bills kept dominating on defense. The offense did enough to win the game despite the passing game struggling most of the second half.
The Bills ran the ball for 203 yards, led by Fred Jackson with 87 on the ground. Both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller were injured during the game but both were able to return. There is a good chance that both will return in time for Thursday night’s game.
EJ Manuel performed much better than his 10 for 22 stat line might suggest. He was in control and took some shots. He also had some close calls not go quite his way which would have made a difference in his stats. He does seem to be making a habit of underthrowing the deep ball. I wouldn’t expect this trend to continue too long as it really is one of his strengths.
The defense found ways to pressure and confuse Flacco. The depleted secondary stepped up big time. Credit Mike Pettine for mixing in much more zone coverages as he recognized the need to adapt with his top two corners not in the lineup.
I was a little upset at the end of the first half that Coach Marrone was not able to understand that he needed to call a time out in order to force the Ravens to punt. Instead, as he took off his headset and tried to lead his team to the locker room, Coach Harbaugh showed him why you have to always be thinking as a coach in this league and took a time out to give his offense one free play. Fortunately for Marrone and the Bills that play did not amount to much outside of the box score but could have easily turned into a touchdown or field goal opportunity on a pass interference call. I hope the coach learns from this one.
To beat the defending world champions, you must be doing something right. Give credit where credit is due. Marrone had his team ready to play for this one and they certainly were not going to be intimidated by a ring.
The lone primetime game on the Bills schedule has them traveling to Cleveland in the Battle of Lake Erie. Two surprising teams collide on Thursday Night Football. This is a pivotal game for these two young teams. The winner may go on to compete for a playoff spot while the loser will have a tough road to try and get back into contention.
The Cleveland Browns have won their last 2 games since turning to Brian Hoyer at QB and trading RB Trent Richardson. The Bills and the Browns both stand at 2-2. Bryan Hoyer will get the start again for the Browns, despite Brandon Weeden being ready to go.
Both of these teams play tough aggressive defense and that is where this game will be decided. The bills will attempt to pressure Brian Hoyer and force him into making some bad decisions. The Browns will load the box to stop the run and dare the Bills to pass. Manuel will need to hit a long ball or two to keep the Browns defense honest.
Outside of Lake Erie, there may not be much interest in this game but NFL fans should tune in or they will miss a good one. The Bills will pull out a hard fought, back and forth game.
Bills 26 – Browns 20