Final Score: Baltimore 20, Buffalo 23
Game Analysis for Buffalo
Pass Offense: While rookie quarterback EJ Manuel continues to show signs of being a future star, his performance on Sunday—particularly in the second half—proves that he still has a lot to learn.
On the positive side, Buffalo was able to test the Ravens secondary with Manuel’s strong-armed passing, preventing Baltimore from completely selling out against the run.
However, Manuel completed less than 50 percent of his passes (10 of 22) and had three turnovers to go along with a meager 167 passing yards and a touchdown. In the end, his performance was good enough to win, but barely.
Run Offense: Buffalo certainly did not dominate this game in every area, but the team was extremely impressive on the ground.
Throughout the second half, the Ravens knew that Buffalo was going to lean on the rushing attack. However, the Bills still found a way to thrive with the tough running of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Despite suffering an ankle injury, Spiller finished the game with 77 yards on 23 carries. Jackson rumbled for 87 yards and a score on just 16 attempts and helped close out the game late.
Pass Defense: Buffalo was able to win this game because the pass defense found a way to make plays when it mattered most.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did manage to pass for 347 yards and was especially effective throwing the deep ball. However, he was also picked off five times, including on Baltimore’s final possession of the game.
Run Defense: After a strong first half, the Bills run defense continued to shine after the break. Of course, the Ravens didn’t exactly test the Bills run defense often, rushing just nine total times for 24 yards.
Special Teams: While the performance of the Buffalo special teams isn’t going to make the highlight reel, the unit provided a solid performance.
Ravens punt returner Tandon Doss was held to a return average of just seven yards, and the Bills managed to avoid major mistakes that might have cost the team a chance at victory.
Coaching: Head coach Doug Marrone netted a big win on Sunday by taking every advantage the Ravens gave him. While this was far from a perfect game, Marrone consistently had his team in position to make big plays on both sides of the football.
First-Half Analysis for Buffalo
Pass Offense: Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel played mostly efficient football in the first half, completing six of nine pass attempts for 126 yards and a touchdown.
However, his fumble early in the second quarter led to a Baltimore touchdown.
Still, Manuel has delivered when called upon in this game, which hasn’t been often due to a highly productive ground attack.
Run Offense: Buffalo already has over 100 yards rushing, which is a testament to both the talent in the backfield and to the team’s commitment to the run.
If Buffalo continues to run the football this effectively in the second half, it will have an opportunity to milk the clock and prevent Baltimore from getting back into this game.
Pass Defense: Buffalo has been excellent against the pass thus far. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has completed just 11 of 22 pass attempts and has been limited to a mostly meaningless 114 yards through the air.
Flacco did manage to find the end zone on a 10-yard strike to rookie Marlon Brown, but he has also been picked off twice and has consistently found himself under pressure.
Run Defense: As good as Buffalo was against the pass in the first half, it has been even better against the run.
Baltimore’s leading rusher to this point is Ray Rice, who has gained a paltry eight yards on three carries. Buffalo has held the Ravens to 15 yards rushing as a team.
Special Teams: The Bills special teams unit made no major mistakes in the first half, but it did not deliver any spectacular plays, either.
If there is criticism here, it is the fact that Shawn Powell is averaging just 37 yards per punt. However, the Ravens have not been allowed to capitalize.
Coaching: Head coach Doug Marrone has called a solid first half against the defending Super Bowl champions, as evidenced on the scoreboard.
Buffalo has been especially impressive on defense. Coordinator Mike Pettine’s unit has held the Ravens to just seven points, which came after a fumble gave them the ball in Bills territory.