Panthers vs. Bills 2013: Buffalo reacts to E.J. Manuel's last-second victory

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Two teams are moving in opposite directions and the Buffalo Bills' rebuild is paying dividends.

The Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills are two teams moving in opposite directions. The Bills' one-point victory typified the upswing in their fortunes, while the Panthers found another way to squander a late lead. Reactions from Buffalo Rumblings and Cat Scratch Reader sum up the position of both franchises.

Matt Warren at Buffalo Rumblings saw some of the problems E.J. Manuel had throughout the day, but acknowledged that none of it mattered.

Manuel was his most poised in the final two-minute drill, driving the Bills 80 yards in 1:34 with no timeouts to pull out the win. He had a costly fumble and interception deep in his own territory earlier in the fourth quarter, but you probably won't remember that. Instead, you'll remember Johnson actually holding on to a big, game-winning catch. (You also might remember a dominant Mario Williams, who set a franchise single-game record with 4.5 sacks.)

A noticeably emotional Manuel was overcome with his first NFL victory. The poise the rookie showed in that final drive was veteran-like and foreshadows big things in his future. Before that final drive the Bills had less than a 1-percent chance of winning according to Pro Football Reference's win probability index, but found a way to slowly and methodically drive down the field.

The loss in Carolina has had a devastating effect on the franchise. Edgar Salmingo Jr. saw the loss as a crushing blow for hope among the fanbase.

All in all, this was the worst case scenario for the Panthers and all their fans. Not only was this another late game loss, but injuries were suffered by Charles Johnson, Josh Norman, Mikell, and Josh Thomas. And they head into a huge game next week against the New York Giants, who pummeled them last year, before the bye week. Even for the most optimistic of Panthers fans, hope looks dim for this season.

It was a double-dose of pain for Panthers' fans. Not only did the team squander yet another late lead, they lost key defensive players moving forward.

Head coach Ron Rivera' seat has never been hotter and there's already some talk that another loss could spell the end to his coaching tenure in Carolina.

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