Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marrone, Wood: E.J.'s struggles due to rust, wind


E.J. Manuel is a raw, first-year quarterback coming off a month-long injury break. Sunday, Manuel looked like a raw, first-year quarterback coming off a month-long injury break.

In other words, he didn't look good.

The Buffalo Bills signal-caller was regularly off target in his team's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing well under half of his pass attempts until an end-of-game scoring drive against a prevent defense in garbage time.

"The kid missed four weeks and just came back," Bills coach Doug Marrone said after the game, via "He's trying his best."

Manuel's best wasn't nearly good enough, and he wasn't about to make excuses for himself. The first-round franchise quarterback hopeful said he didn't think rust was a factor, and he didn't blame the wind for his poor accuracy despite one of his linemen doing so.

"The elements. It was tough," center Eric Wood said. "Early on, that wind was really kicking."

Thanks to an 80-yard drive to get the Bills within 13 points with three seconds left, Manuel's stat line wasn't the worst ever, as he completed 22 of 39 pass attempts for 155 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

The Bills might have been well-served spelling Manuel for backup Thad Lewis, who showed glimpses of explosiveness in a couple starts in Manuel's absence, in an effort to spark the offense in the second half, but Marrone said he never considered that option.

Buffalo, which has now lost five of its last six games, will host the division-rival New York Jets next Sunday.

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