2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Bills' Manuel, Williams deliver to beat Panthers

By JOHN WAWROW - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-16 02:46

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel provided the Bills an encouraging glimpse into their future. And defensive end Mario Williams is starting to feel comfortable in Buffalo.

In his second season since signing a $100 million contract, Williams finally began playing up to his high-priced promise by leading the Bills' new-look defense with a franchise-best and career-high 4 1/2 sacks. Manuel, the rookie first-round draft pick, then capped a 24-23 win over the Carolina Panthers by hitting Stevie Johnson for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds remaining.

``It boosts our morale,'' Williams said of a team that was still stinging a week after giving up a last-second field goal in a 23-21 season-opening loss to New England. ``It shows that we can believe in each other, take care of our business.''

It was a significant win for a team coming off a near top-to-bottom offseason transition, which included the hiring of rookie coach Doug Marrone.

For Carolina, the outcome proved all too familiar for a team that continues to have difficulty winning close games. Coming off a season-opening 12-7 loss to Seattle, the Panthers dropped to 2-14 in games decided by 7 points or fewer since coach Ron Rivera took over in 2011.

``This isn't about learning any hard lessons,'' Carolina receiver Steve Smith said. ``This is like going to the dentist and getting several teeth pulled without any anesthesia, laughing gas, nothing. It's tough, and it's sickening.''

Here's five things that stood out:

1. ELECTRIC EJ: Shrugging off a pair of second-half turnovers, Manuel completed 6 of 8 passes for 51 yards in marching Buffalo 80 yards in 96 seconds on the decisive drive.

Manuel got help from a pass-interference penalty against linebacker Luke Kuechly that came two plays before Johnson's touchdown. Yet, Manuel showed no signs of fear in throwing over the middle despite the Bills having used up their time outs.

In finishing 27 of 39 for 296 yards passing, Manuel became the NFL's fifth rookie quarterback since 1960 to win a game when trailing in the fourth quarter.

Best of all, the comeback occurred with his father, Eric Sr., celebrating his birthday.

Guess who's getting a game ball as a present?

``I didn't have a gift. My dad's not big on gifts,'' Manuel said. ``But I know he'll definitely want to take this home.''

2. PANTHERS LACK FINISH: Carolina squandered a chance to break the game open by settling for field goals by Graham Gano on three consecutive fourth-quarter drives.

Quarterback Cam Newton threw an incompletion on third-and-goal from the 9, which led to Gano's 27-yard chip shot. Williams was credited with a sack to end the next threat at the Bills 7, before Gano hit a 25-yard field goal.

Newton then marched Carolina 59 yards over 5:35 to set up Gano's 39-yard field goal with 1:38 remaining.

``It killed us. That was the difference in the game,'' said tight end Greg Olsen, who had seven catches for 84 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. ``We just didn't finish.''

3. SACK ATTACK: Williams' career-day came in his 100th career game. He broke the team record of four sacks set three previous times, once by Cornelius Bennett in 1987, and twice by Bruce Smith (1990 and `94).

The 4 1/2 sacks were the most since San Francisco's Aldon Smith had 5 1/2 against Chicago last Nov. 19. Williams has 6 1/2 sacks this season after he managed 10 1/2 last year.

The Bills finished with six sacks, their most since getting 10 in a 23-0 win over Washington on Oct. 30, 2011.

4. DEPLETED AT DB: Carolina lost both starting safeties to injury after Charles Godfrey (right Achilles tendon) and Quintin Mikell (right ankle) were hurt in the second half.

Starting cornerback Josh Thomas did not return after sustaining a concussion in the first quarter while making a helmet-to-helmet tackle on receiver Robert Woods.

5. C.J. AND STEVIE BOUNCE BACK: A week after being criticized for dropping an easy third-down pass, Johnson bounced back with eight catches for 111 yards, including a touchdown. Running back C.J. Spiller had a solid outing with 16 carries for 103 yards. That included a 46-yard run, which was 5 yards more than he combined for against New England.

It came against a Carolina defense that allowed an average 57 yards rushing in its previous five games.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

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Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

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Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

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