Things were going quite well in the 2nd half up until that point.
After a disastrous end to the first half, the Bills started the second half well.
Bills offense opened with a bang
The Bills received the ball to start the half. After a short gain by Spiller on their first play, the Bills were able to quickly move the ball through the air and on the ground with gains of 24 yards and 54 yards respectively. C.J. Spiller's 54 yard touchdown run tied the game at 17 all.
Browns' offense pushed back
The Bills kicked off and their defense pushed the Browns offense back within their 15 yard line with the help of stops on first and second down and a sack by Mario Williams on third down.
Bills on the move again
The Bills second possession started on their on 46 yard line after a nine yard punt return by Leodis McKelvin. The Bills quickly picked up 27 yards of offense and converted on one third down.
The Bills moved the ball to the Browns 27 yard line and were faced with a 3rd down and 8. E.J. Manuel scrambled after the pocket collapsed and gained 14 yards.
Bad break or bad idea?
As we all know, E.J. was injured on that play and is out for at least a few weeks. Was it a bad break, to paraphrase Marrone, or was it just a bad idea on Manuel's part. I would argue that it was the latter and here is why. Update: Brian's article says that six weeks is a good estimate for how long he will be out. Smh. Unbelievable.
I think it's safe to say that E.J. Manuel was not going to score a touchdown on this play. Sometimes you just have to know when to not fight for extra yards.
Let's start at the beginning of the play and see what happened and how it got to that point. Now I don't have the All-22 to work with so I'll focus on what we can see, i.e. any OL breakdowns or WR routes that are visible.
The Bills are in a Shotgun formation: 3 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 RB. Two WRs are set to the left side of the formation and one is set to the right. Scott Chandler is next to Cordy Glenn. Fred Jackson is set back next to Manuel. D'Qwell Jackson, #52, is close to the line of scrimmage, threatening a blitz up the middle. The Bills need to get to the Browns 19 for a first down.
With the exception of Woods and Jackson, all of the Bills receivers, including Chandler, streak up the field and out of view. D'Qwell Jackson drops off into a zone and the Browns rush four. I can't tell who that is at the top of the screen but the Browns seem pretty interested in taking them away as an option.
Both Cordy Glenn and Colin Brown are beat immediately at the snap. Barkevious Mingo, lined up on Chandler's outside shoulder, gets a great jump off the snap. The threat of Mingo's speed causes Glenn to overcompensate. Colin Brown gets beat off the snap by #95 of the Browns, Armonty Bryant, a rookie 7th round pick.
Glenn tries to kick out quickly to counter Mingo's speed. Mingo counters and beats Glenn badly with an inside spin move. Brown is beat off the snap by what I believe is a rip move. Everyone else on the line seems to hold up well.
Robert Woods runs a drag route and is open underneath. The pressure, the coverage, and the down and distance really make it an unfeasible option. Freddy comes out of the backfield and will be crossing underneath in the opposite direction that Woods is headed. Not having access to the All-22, I don't see any better options from this vantage point.
E.J. has nowhere to step up and has to dodge the grasp of a defender as he leaves the pocket.
Manuel escapes the pocket and immediately has his armed cocked and ready to deliver the ball. Freddy turns and presents a target for him. Manuel apparently doesn't like what he sees and appears to point for Freddy to block for him.
It isn't the best block in the world but Freddy gets just enough of Buster Skrine, #22, to briefly create a nice path for him down the sideline. Atta boy Fred!
Manuel has enough for the first down. But what is this? Green space? "Surely I can pick up some more yards".
From the time that he reaches the marker to when he is on the ground, I count one second or less elapsing. That is a very pricey six yards to gain in my opinion. And it happened very quickly.
This was an avoidable hit. He has to realize the situation. The game is tied, it is the middle of the 3rd quarter, both sides of the ball are starting to execute against the Browns, and he just picked up enough for a first down. The Bills didn't need him to try and get extra yards right then and he does not have a realistic chance of scoring.
Let's hope that the current reports are correct and it isn't a severe injury and that he won't need surgery. And let's also hope that he learns from this. Sometimes when kids touch the hot stove when their parents told them not to, they get burned. You got burned unnecessarily E.J. Just get out of bounds.
I'm sure he could ask any veteran running back about this. Sometimes you have just go down instead of fighting for more yards. Sometimes the extra yards are not worth wasting the extra time or worth risking a turnover. In this case, the extra yards were not worth the risk to his health.