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Bills survive late Panthers rally, win preseason game 20-18

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A strong evening running the football and a few big plays on defense allowed the Bills to escape Carolina with a 20-18 preseason win over the Panthers.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Meeks may have saved us from another week of the Doug Marrone grumpies tonight.

With the Carolina Panthers driving for a potential game-winning field goal try late in the fourth quarter, Meeks caught a caromed football out of the air to seal a Buffalo Bills win in their second preseason game of the year, 20-18. Carolina's last-ditch effort came after a touchdown, failed two-point conversion, and onside kick recovery - all within the final two minutes.

Buffalo's first-team offense could only produce three points, but were far more proficient at moving the football than they were in the Hall of Fame Game. EJ Manuel completed 9-of-13 passes for 96 yards on the evening, C.J. Spiller ran for 22 yards on three carries, and the team made two trips deep into Panthers territory. Alas, Fred Jackson was stuffed twice on short-yardage runs to keep the Bills out of the end zone.

Bryce Brown (11 carries, 64 yards) and Anthony Dixon (nine carries, 28 yards, one touchdown) performed well in the second half, and Jeff Tuel found Chris Summers for a one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the decisive score of the game.

Defensively, the Bills forced two turnovers and consistently pressured Panthers quarterbacks throughout the evening, which was a double-edged sword; Derek Anderson and Joe Webb combined for 40 rushing yards on six carries, prompting Marrone to call out the team's ability to limit quarterback scrambles at halftime. Other than one drive, however, the team's top defensive unit put up another strong performance.

Buffalo is now 1-1 on the preseason, and they'll be right back on the practice field tomorrow evening (at 6:10 p.m. ET) upon their return to St. John Fisher. They'll next play in exhibition action next Saturday, as the culminating event of a four-day trip to western Pennsylvania to practice with and play against the Pittsburgh Steelers.