SD Chargers at Bills NFL Week 3 Capsule

From Sports Network:

It’s hard to imagine emerging from a defeat of the reigning Super Bowl champions on a down note, but the San Diego Chargers might be in that position – at least temporarily.

They put up 30 points and beat the Seattle Seahawks in a memorable Week 2 home opener in San Diego, but the most telling moment at Qualcomm Stadium might have been when leading rusher and offensive spark plug Ryan Mathews was taken from the field on a cart in the fourth quarter.

The team announced on Monday that he’d suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, but didn’t reveal how long he’d be sidelined or exactly how severe the injury turned out to be.

The 2013 season was the first in which the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft played all 16 games, and the full schedule’s worth of health yielded a career-best 1,255 yards on the ground.

Mathews’ status wasn’t specifically listed on Wednesday’s injury report, but he didn’t practice and suggested he’d miss four or five weeks.

“Everyone recovers differently,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “We’ve had players who were supposed to be done for the season and the next thing you know they come out there Monday or Wednesday and they’re practicing with something torn or something broken or this or that. I don’t want to put a timetable on anything.”

San Diego has a youthful substitute options in rookie Branden Oliver, or it can turn to veterans Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead – or perhaps a combination of all three, according to McCoy.

“We’ve said that we’re going to play all our backs, certain rotations, certain number of plays,” he said. “We have confidence in all our players. That’s why they’re here.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers leaned heavily on tight end Antonio Gates in the defeat of Seattle, connecting with him on three scoring passes that boosted Gates to AFC offensive player of the week recognition.

Gates has averaged one TD per game in four meetings with the Bills, and actually caught two when last the teams met – in a 37-10 Chargers win three seasons ago.

He’s got 13 catches and 177 yards to begin the 2014 season, which could make him a go-to again facing a Buffalo defense that’s yielded 16 catches for tight ends in two games, while QBs have compiled 590 aerial yards.

But while it’s been three years since they started 3-0 and 15 years since they last saw the playoffs, the Bills are handling a surprise unbeaten start (thanks to consecutive defeats of Chicago and Miami) with the mindset of a team that figured it’d be there all along.

In fact, with an offense that’s scored three touchdowns in 10 trips into the red zone – including one in six tries against the Dolphins, and five Dan Carpenter field goals – there’s still plenty to improve upon.

“It’s sad to just be kicking field goals. That’s something we have to fix,” rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins said, after scoring his first touchdown in a 12-yard catch and ending with eight receptions for 117 yards in his second NFL appearance.

Running back C.J. Spiller scored on a 102-yard kickoff return to headline a yeoman special teams effort, which also included a blocked punt and a recovery of kick that was muffed by the Dolphins return unit.

“How we played (Sunday) won’t win for us later in the season,” Buffalo guard Chris Williams said.

The defense has also held up its end, generating five opposition turnovers and recording six sacks. As a team, the Bills are up to fifth in the league against the run after two games – allowing 83 yards per week – a full 23 spots up from their 2013 finish at No. 28, allowing 128.9 yards per game.

The offense, meanwhile, is second-to-last in the league with 28 first downs and quarterback E.J. Manuel has averaged less than 200 yards per game through the air. Still, the second-year man from Florida State has been picked off just once and sacked just once through two weeks, after averaging nearly one interception and three sacks per game during 10 appearances in his injury mottled rookie season.

“You’re never going to be perfect, but the good thing is we’re still coming out with two wins versus two great teams,” Manuel said. “As long as we win, I’m happy.”

Another reason to hold the parade reservations in downtown Orchard Park, the Bills finished 6-10 after starting 3-0 in 2011 and wound up with a 7-9 mark after a heady 4-0 start in 2008.

“To sit here and say, ‘Oh, did we expect to have people give us credit?’ Not when you haven’t done anything for such a long period of time. I think we understand that,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone said.

“We’ve got to get better each week. And really, all of our focus right now is the game that’s next, San Diego.”


Keeping it Tight

Martellus Bennett and Charles Clay put up numbers against the Bills from the tight end slot in weeks one and two, so it stands to reason that a rejuvenated Gates might continue the stretch. Wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd figure to be the tasks of the cornerbacks, so Gates will probably be left to with rookie linebacker Preston Brown, who has 12 tackles and a fumble recovery in two games.

Grinding it Out

Limiting the effectiveness of Rivers and Co. gets a lot easier if the Chargers don’t have the ball. And keeping the Chargers from having the ball gets a lot easier if the Buffalo running game is able to get lanes cleared by a trenches- winning offensive line. Left guard Williams, who’s signed for four years and $13.5 million, plays a role in that and could use a rebound after a challenging day against the Dolphins.


The Buffalo fans will claim it’s bias against the small market in Western New York, but the objective observer – while impressed with the Bills’ two wins – can still look and see holes when laid alongside a perceived AFC contender.

That’s no different this week, particularly with a Chargers team that went for 30 points and 377 yards against the best defense in football. Rivers gets it done here, too.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Chargers 24, Bills 20

Chargers at Bills Thursday Injury Report

Practice Report
  Wednesday LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), CB Brandon Flowers (groin), LB Dwight Freeney (not injury related), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring), LB Melvin Ingram (hamstring), RB Ryan Mathews (knee)
  Thursday LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), LB Melvin Ingram (hamstring), RB Ryan Mathews (knee), G Rich Ohrnberger (back), G Johnnie Troutman (back)
  Wednesday S Jahleel Addae (hamstring), G Rich Ohrnberger (back), G Johnnie Troutman (back)
  Thursday S Jahleel Addae (hamstring), WR Keenan Allen (groin), TE Antonio Gates (hamstring)
  Wednesday CB Chris Davis (ankle), DE Corey Liuget (ankle)
  Thursday CB Chris Davis (ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (groin), LB Dwight Freeney (not injury related), DE Corey Liuget (ankle)
Practice Report
  Wednesday LB Randell Johnson (knee), S Jonathan Meeks (neck)
  Thursday LB Randell Johnson (knee), S Jonathan Meeks (neck), WR Robert Woods (ankle)
  Wednesday DT Stefan Charles (hip), LB Keith Rivers (groin), WR Robert Woods (ankle)
  Thursday DT Stefan Charles (hip), LB Keith Rivers (groin), G Chris Williams (back)
  Wednesday TE Lee Smith (toe), WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
  Thursday TE Lee Smith (toe), WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)

Dolphins At Bills NFL Week Two Inactives

Miami – DE Terrence Fede, OT Jason Fox, DT Bruce Gaston, LB Koa Misi, C Mike Pouncey, LB Jordan Tripp, OT Billy Turner

Buffalo - RB Bryce Brown, CB Ross Cockrell, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, DB Johnathan Meeks, OL Cyril Richardson, LB Keith Rivers, TE Lee Smith

Sabers Owners Terry and Kim Pegula Agree To Buy Bills

Atlanta Thrashers v Buffalo Sabres

Have no fear Bills fans – your team is going nowhere.

Today Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula reached a sale agreement with the Bills on Tuesday, the team announced.

The deal is for $1.4 billion, and Pegulas stressed their intention to keep the Bills in Buffalo in a statement posted on the Sabres’ website.

“Kim and I are humbled and honored that the Wilson family has chosen us to be the second owner of the Buffalo Bills,” the statement read. “Pending the NFL approval process, being the next owner of the Buffalo Bills would be a great privilege for our family. Ralph Wilson left an indelible mark on our community and we will strive every day to honor his legacy.

“Our interest in owning the Bills has everything to do with the people of Western New York and our passion for football. We have knowledgeable, dedicated fans here and along with our ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, it is gratifying to reassure these great fans that two franchises so important to our region are both here to stay.”

The definitive agreement calls for the Pegula family to acquire all of the interest in the Bills franchise from the trust of late owner Ralph Wilson, according to a statement from the Bills. Now, NFL owners must approve the sale. The Bills and the Pegulas intend to submit the agreement for that approval at the owners meeting on October 8th.

“This is a very important day in the history of the Buffalo Bills franchise,” Bills controlling owner Mary Wilson said in the statement. “Ralph brought professional football to Buffalo in 1959 and it was his life’s passion. He loved his team and he cherished the fans and his legacy will remain for all-time. Ralph would have been pleased with the sale of the team to the Terry Pegula family, who has been so committed to Buffalo and the Western New York region.

“I sincerely wish Terry and Kim Pegula all the best with the Buffalo Bills and I’m happy for all Bills fans. Our hope is that this great franchise brings them as much excitement and joy as it did for Ralph and that they bring home a Super Bowl championship for Bills fans everywhere. Go Bills!”

Three ownership groups put in binding bids to buy the team, with the Pegulas group being one of those last three groups.

The other groups to submit bids were one led by New York City real estate mogul Donald Trump and a Toronto group fronted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

The Pegulas have been regarded as front-runners to buy the Bills since first expressing interest in May.

Bills Pull Out Huge OT Win Over Bears 23-20

Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears

With the game on the line, give the ball to Fred Jackson.

Jackson broke off a big 38-yard run to set up Dan Carpenter’s game-winning 27-yard field goal as the Bills upset the Bears 23-20 Sunday at Soldier Field.

The win was not only a big one for the Bills to get to 1-0, but it was the first time that the Bills have won on opening day since 2011.

The Bills D stepped up on the first OT series by the Bears, as they won the coin toss. After a Chicago punt, EJ Manuel hit Mike Williams for a 20-yard completion on the play before Jackson’s big run.

After that, Carpenter hit the game winning field goal.

Down 7-0, the Bills came back as they mixed the run and pass well, and Manuel drove the Bills 71 yards to the tying touchdown, finishing it off with a nice bootleg to the left from two yards out.

Manuel was 3-of-3 for 49 yards on the march including a 32-yard hook-up with Robert Woods.

Two monster turnovers by the Bears saw the Bills take advantage of them for a 10-point lead over the Bears at 17-7.

Jay Cutler and the Bears rallied in the second half, scoring 10 points, the last seven coming when Cutler hit Brandon Marshall with a game-tying 11-yard touchdown pass as Marshall just flat out beat Leodis McKelvin.

Buffalo took the lead with 4:02 to go when Carpenter kicked a 33-yard field goal. That score was set up when defensive tackle Kyle Williams picked off a Cutler pass near midfield.

Chicago then forced overtime when Gould made a 37-yarder with 30 seconds to go.

Shouting Match Takes Place Between Doug Marrone And Jim Monos

Doug Marrone

Tensions between Bills second-year head coach Doug Marrone and the team’s front office recently boiled over into a shouting match on the practice field between Marrone and several team officials according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Things are understandably tense right now in Buffalo as the team and the city await the sale of the team, with bids due by mid-Septemver and a new owner likely to be finalized by the October owners meetings. The incident began with Marrone, who sources said has had a strained relationship with director of player personnel Jim Monos from their time together in New Orleans, getting into a loud exchange with Monos in which the men were cursing at each other to the point where others noticed (“they were more or less MFing each other,” is how one source put it).

General manager Doug Whaley then intervened. The expletives continued and finally team president and acting owner Russ Brandon tried to defuse the situation by getting involved in an attempt to get all parties to “shut up,” as one source put it. But that too escalated into more yelling and hollering, with Brandon and Marrone ultimately separated by their peers and Marrone, in earshot of players, making remarks along the lines of “go ahead and fire me,” before order was restored and the team took the field for practice.

Arguments are not unusual in NFL meeting rooms but having an altercation in view of players on the practice field sends up a lot of red flags. Marrone has also clashed with some players this offseason, most frequently linebacker Jerry Hughes, team sources said, and has made comments around the team which have drawn the ire of some players.

Sources said Marrone has referred to himself as “Saint Doug” at times, referencing the fact that it takes two miracles to be canonized as a saint, and that he already pulled off one miracle by winning at Syracuse and alluding to the fact it would take another miracle to win in Buffalo.

The front office is reportedly also unhappy with the way Marrone and his coaching staff are using certain players, including second-year wideout Robert Woods and 2014 second-round pick tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Clearly everyone is worried about job security and the future of the team and the situation could really escalate if the Bills are unable to improve on the 6-10 record they posted in 2013. Marrone may have the hottest coaching seat in the NFL.

Buffalo at Chicago Thursday Injury Report

Practice Report
  Wednesday TE Lee Smith (toe)
  Thursday TE Lee Smith (toe)
  Wednesday CB Stephon Gilmore (groin), LB Randell Johnson (ankle), S Jonathan Meeks (neck)
  Thursday RB Anthony Dixon (hamstring), S Jonathan Meeks (neck), LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
  Wednesday WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
  Thursday CB Stephon Gilmore (groin), LB Randell Johnson (ankle), WR Sammy Watkins (ribs)
Practice Report
  Wednesday QB David Fales (right shoulder)
  Thursday QB David Fales (right shoulder)
  Wednesday S Chris Conte (concussion), C Brian De La Puente (knee), RB Tony Fiammetta (hamstring)
  Thursday RB Tony Fiammetta (hamstring)
  Thursday S Chris Conte (concussion), C Brian De La Puente (knee)

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