Kevin Kolb did not make a bold statement in the battle for starting quarterback and the Buffalo Bills’ defense looked good in Friday night’s exhibition against the Minnesota Vikings. Kolb managed to engineer just four first downs in five series against the Vikings’ defensive starters. On the last two drives of the first half against Minnesota’s second-stringers Kolb drove the Bills 59 and 52 yards to two field goals. The Bills took a 13-3 lead into intermission. EJ Manuel took over for Kolb to start the second half and promptly marched the Bills 80 yards in 14 plays to a touchdown. It put Buffalo ahead 20-3. The Bills went on to win 20-16 before a Kids Day crowd of 60164 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo’s defense had three first-half sacks and produced the first touchdown of the game thanks to a Vikings miscue. Minnesota’s backup center Joe Berger snapped the ball over the head of backup quarterback Matt Cassel on a third-and-7 play from Minnesota’s 23-yard line. Cassel chased the ball back to the goal line the ball tumbled into the end zone and Jamie Blatnick fell on it for a score with 8:45 left in the half. Blatnick entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State last year. He’s pushing hard to make the Bills’ roster as a backup edge rusher. The Bills improved to 2-0. The Vikings dropped to 0-2. “I thought early on our defense played very well made some things happen” Bills coach Doug Marrone said. “I like that type of effort from them. They made some things happen. They batted down a lot of balls. … They were excellent on third down.” The Bills outgained the Vikings 380-256. However Marrone was not happy that his team was called for 14 penalties for 106 yards. “Offensively I think we had some tough field position” he said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. Penalties again. That’s going to be something we need to address to take control of that. … We won the game. We still have a long way to go. We have a lot of things to work on all of us – myself the coaches and the players.” Kolb the seventh-year veteran signed in the offseason from Arizona completed 13 of 21 passes in the first half for 111 yards. The Bills relied heavily in the first half on the “regular” formation with a running back a fullback two receivers and a tight end. Bills edge rusher Jerry Hughes had two sacks and Marcell Dareus had one. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson the NFL’s Most Valuable Player last season did not play. Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder was 5 of 12 for 53 yards. He directed five drives. Four of them were three-and-out series. The fifth went 62 yards to the field goal. Manuel played only the third quarter. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards. “The offensive line did a fantastic job” Manuel said. “I didn’t have any pressure.” Manuel looked confident to start the second half. He completed 6 of 6 passes for 44 yards on his first drive which was capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Brad Smith. Manuel looked left and saw receivers covered. He shifted back to the right side of the field and lofted the pass to a wide-open Smith.
Manuel leads Bills to 20-16 preseason win over Vikings
Buffalo News | Aug 17