83 yards. 65 seconds left to play. Why not see what your rookie quarterback can do, right?
Cardale Jones showed off his arm and poise in the pocket as he led the Bills down the field, throwing a touchdown pass as time expired to Jarrett Boykin to pull Buffalo within 19-18. But, instead of going for the extra point and tie, Rex Ryan chose to go for the win.
Jones' pass on the two point conversion fell short, as the Bills dropped their preseason opener 19-18.
Jones helped set up the TD drive by first connecting with Boykin on a 22-yard out and then hooked up with Walter Powell for a 40-yard gain, zipping a pass through coverage to the receiver, who promptly broke away from defenders.
While he admitted he hates losing, Head Coach Rex Ryan showered the rookie from Ohio State with praise following the game.
"He's a sharp young man, very smart, he's going like this, maybe improving faster than we though, maybe so," Ryan said. "We have a great quarterback situation, a proven starter, a proven backup and this is a young man that just keeps getting better and better."
Jones finished the game 11 for 21 for 171 yards.
"I kind of want to give all of that credit to our coaches and our coaching staff for putting us in that type of situation. I mean we kind of ran a two-minute drive almost every day at practice, you know, good on good, of course I’m going with the threes," Jones said. "But these guys are in the NFL. These guys are the best players in the world so all of these guys have the potential to be starters."
Tyrod Taylor saw just one series in the preseason opener, finishing 2 for 3 for just 7 yards.
Back-up EJ Manuel saw action deep into the third before Jones took over, but good touch on his passes completing 10 of his 18 attempts for 91 yards and a touchdown. Manuel dropped in an absolute dime to Chris Gragg on a corner route, hooking up with the tight end for a 19-yard score.
Outside of quarterback play, two running themes throughout the preseason have been penalties and injuries.
The injury bug bit the Bills once again, with IK Enempkali exiting the game late in the second quarter after what Ryan called a "major" knee injury.
On the second day of training camp Ryan told reporters he was going "old school" and would have players run laps for any penalties that occurred during practice.
While it may be a new season, against the Colts on Saturday, it was the same old Bills. Buffalo was flagged 11 times for 106 yards. They were flagged a league leading 143 times in 2015, tied for the most with Tampa Bay.
"The mistakes that we made, I pointed out to our team. It’s like we have to turn the page on that," Ryan said. "That was last year’s team and we can’t have that."
The Bills second preseason game in Aug. 13 when they host the Giants. Kickoff is set for 4 pm on WKBW.
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