1. It wasn’t pretty, but the Bills leaned on their outstanding defense to earn their seventh win of the year. Getting the best of former Bills coordinator Mike Pettine, Doug Marrone‘s squad clamped down on Cleveland’s quick-strike passing game, shut down the run and triggered a trio of turnovers. If there’s one reason to believe in this Bills team, it’s the play of their frisky front seven, which sacked Brian Hoyer two times and added another six hits on the quarterback.
2. After last week’s three-interception meltdown, Hoyer’s two-pick afternoon led to the veteran being benched for Johnny Manziel. The rookie immediately led Cleveland on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown march to cut Buffalo’s lead to 20-10. Manziel made plays with his feet and looked good outside of the pocket before splitting the defense for a 10-yard scoring gallop — the first touchdown of his NFL career. Johnny Football couldn’t bring the Browns back, but it’s fair to wonder if the starting job is now his to lose.
3. Both offenses struggled, but Kyle Orton and the Bills made more plays down the stretch. Despite generating just 91 first-half yards, Orton rebounded to lead Buffalo on a decisive eight-play, 84-yard drive in the third quarter that was capped by his 3-yard scoring strike to Chris Hogan. It’s astonishing that Buffalo won this game despite going two of 15 on third down and averaging just 4.6 yards per play.
4. The Browns did their best to unleash Josh Gordon. The athletically freaky wideout played the entire way, catching seven passes for 75 yards and leading the team in targets for the second straight week. Heavily deployed on a smattering of short routes, Gordon looked good picking up yards after the catch, but we aren’t seeing him used deep the way he was last season.
5. It was hardly a dominant showing, but Bills running back Fred Jackson made a handful of big second-half runs that moved the chains. Cleveland’s duo of Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West flatlined, running for a combined 61 yards at just 2.5 yards per carry.
6. The win keeps Buffalo very much in the hunt for a wild-card spot, but the team’s schedule is a beast with upcoming tilts against the Broncos, Packers, Raiders and Patriots. The Browns might need to win out for a chance at the postseason.
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