A week after the Buffalo Bills lost a heart-breaking home opener to the New England Patriots it looked as if the Bills were heading to an 0-2 record as the Carolina Panthers took a six-point lead with 1:38 remaining in Sunday’s Week 2 match-up. The Bills needed a touchdown and they needed to do it without the use of a timeout to stop the clock. Rookie QB E.J. Manuel, who had committed two crucial turnovers just minutes earlier in the 4th quarter, was unfazed with the task at hand and coolly and calmly led the Bills 78 yards to the Carolina two-yard line with :06 left and the Bills in need of a touchdown.
It turns out completing the comeback was the easy part. Manuel found WR Stevie Johnson wide open for the game-winning two-yard touchdown with only :02 left to spare, and the improbable comeback was complete. Manuel had his first career win as a starting QB under his belt in the most dramatic of fashion. Overall Manuel finished with solid numbers. He was 29-of-37 for 296 yards, a TD and an INT. He was only sacked once after not being sacked by the Pats in the opener. Past all the drama of the endings of Manuel’s first two games he has had one of the most efficient debuts for a rookie QB in NFL history. Only one QB drafted to start in their rookie season has had a better QB rating over their first two games – Robert Griffin III.
You can certainly focus on the negatives with Manuel’s performances. He gave away two key turnovers in the 4th quarter. It was how he responded to that, however, that should encourage Bills fans. To succeed in the NFL you need a QB who has moxie and has guts. Some people call it the “it” factor. That’s a little too cliche for me, but one thing I do know is that whatever it is Manuel showed it on Sunday.