CLEVELAND, OH - (WKBW) Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel hurt his right knee in the third quarter of the Bills 37-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Manuel was injured running for a first down. He took a shoulder to the knee, which knocked him out of the remainder of the game. In his postgame press conference Bills head coach Doug Marrone said Manuel suffered a sprained knee.
The contest couldn't have started better for the Bills. The Buffalo defense forced a three and out on the Browns first drive. Jim Leonard then returned a punt 25 yards down to the Cleveland 32. Fred Jackson scored three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown to give the Bills the early 7-0 lead just 1:39 into the game.
On the following drive things appeared to get worse for the Browns when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game.
After picking up a first down on an 11 yard scramble Hoyer was hurt when he was hit by Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso. Hoyer left the game with a knee injury and did not return.
The Bills offense struck again on the units second drive of the game. EJ Manuel complete 5 of 8 passes on a 12 play 56 yard drive that resulted in a 52-yard Dan Carpenter field goal. The Bills led 10-0 after the first quarter of play.
The Browns didn't panic. Following a 57 yard punt return by Travis Benjamin Cleveland marched 19 yards on 7 plays and pulled within 7 on a 30 yard Billy Cundiff field goal.
The Browns tied the game on the teams next offensive drive. With Brandon Weeden at quarterback Cleveland marched 74 yards on 14 plays and capped things off with a 1-yard touchdown dive from Willis McGahee to knot things at 10.
The Bills offense went three and out on their following drive and the Browns special teams made them pay. Benjamin took the resulting punt and returned it 52 yards on an electrifying play for the touchdown.
The extra point capped off 17 unanswered points for the Browns. Cleveland led 17-10 at the half.
The Bills would come out of halftime with an answer. C.J. Spiller pulled Buffalo within a point with a 54 yard touchdown run on the third play of the third quarter. The extra point tied the game at 17.
On the Bills next possession, the Manuel injury happened on the way to another Fred Jackson 1-yard touchdown.
Jeff Tuel replaced Manuel under center and the Bills offense was never the same. It was out of sync and sputtering.
The Browns followed with a Josh Gordon 37-yard touchdown grab from Weedon to tie the game at 24 through three quarters.
It was all Cleveland in the fourth quarter. After two field goals, T.J. Ward picked off Tuel and returned the interception 44-yards to cap the scoring.
Stevie Johnson was also injured early in this game. He left after hurting his back.
The Bills next host the Bengals on October 13th.