EJ Manuel comes out strong...
Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman does a nice job of scripting opening drive plays and it showed on Sunday. Manuel and the Bills marched down the field and scored a touchdown to open the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Manuel was aided by a fantastic LeSean McCoy run and Charles Clay catch, but the quarterback also shined for the Bills and finished the drive with a touchdown run. It was exactly what Buffalo needed to start Sunday's game.
...but then takes two steps back...
After the initial drive, Manuel struggled. He held the ball too long at one point and ended up getting called for intentional grounding. Manuel had plenty of time to throw the ball away before making the error. The quarterback also threw an interception on a deep ball that was underthrown to Chris Hogan. It wasn't his only underthrown ball of the first half. Later in the first half, Manuel didn't step into a throw to Clay. The tight end was wide open on the sideline but Manuel's pass was well underthrown.
before TOTALLY redeeming himself
At the end of the half, Manuel led the Bills on a terrific drive to pull them within one score after he connected with Sammy Watkins with 17 seconds remaining. There's been plenty of up-and-down play from Manuel in the first half, but he's keeping the team in the game.
Buffalo's struggles on offense generally put the Bengals in terrific field position to start drives. Cincinnati has pretty much started at midfield all game on Sunday. This has led to the Bengals putting up 17 points on Buffalo. The battle of field position has greatly favored the Bengals.
Jerry Hughes, Ron Brooks and Marquise Goodwin were just a few players to get called for penalties in the first half. Hughes was called for illegal hands to the face, Brooks for taunting and Goodwin for a facemask. All of the penalties were costly for the Bills. These types of penalties seem to be a common occurrence at the Ralph.
Bills struggling against Giovani Bernard
Bernard has been a complete mismatch on the field. Inside linebackers can't cover him on pass plays and his speed has been on display in the first half. Bernard has 46 yards and a touchdown at the half.
Watkins lets his play do the talking
Leading up to Sunday's game, Watkins let it be known that he wanted the football. It didn't happen immediately, but Manuel finally started to target the former fourth overall pick. At halftime, Watkins has four receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He was injured on the touchdown reception but was able to walk off the field on his own. Hopefully he'll be able to play for the Bills in the second half.
McCoy playing well
LeSean McCoy isn't 100 percent but he looks great through the first half. He's made some terrific cuts and has 61 yards rushing and three yards receiving at the half.