The Buffalo Bills earned their second win in the preseason, dealing the Minnesota Vikings their second consecutive defeat, with a 20-16 victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Friday night. Had it not been for a 13-0 fourth quarter in favor of the Vikings, the score would have been much more lopsided in the Bills' favor, as they dominated for the first three quarters.
Leading the way for the Bills was rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, who completed 10-of-12 passes for 92 yards and one touchdown. On Saturday morning, Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings wrote that the game moved Manuel into a significant lead in the battle for the starting quarterback spot with Kevin Kolb.
Comparison aside, however, the biggest reason that Manuel has taken a clear and decisive lead on Kolb at this point is simple: when both have looked most comfortable running the offense, Manuel has been the far sharper and more productive quarterback. Kolb's 10-of-13 end to the first half Friday night pales in comparison to Manuel's last 22 preseason throws: he's 19-of-22 with two touchdowns. Add in every other factor - talent, upside, amount of preseason work - and it's clear that the starting gig is Manuel's to lose.
The results of Friday's game weren't as positive for Vikings fans, as Christopher Gates of Daily Norseman described the team's offense as "sloppy." In particular, the Vikings offensive line struggled to keep starting quarterback Christian Ponder upright during the game:
The offensive line was getting killed during the entire portion of the game that I saw, as the Bills constantly brought extra rushers and the Vikings didn't appear to make any real adjustments. Even Matt Kalil got beaten pretty badly a couple of times. I'm not going to start to panic, because it is only the pre-season, but this is something that needs to get figured out.
Ponder finished the game with 5-of-12 passes completed for 53 yards, as the Vikings were unable to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.