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08/17/2013 4:50 AM EDT
Bills new-look D provides pop in beating Vikes
BUFFALO 20, MINNESOTA 16

By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The attacking style of defense Mike
Pettine is introducing in Buffalo certainly has Bills center
Eric Wood's attention.

"You can hear the hits from the sideline. That's something we
haven't had," Wood said after the defense keyed a 20-16
preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night.
"It's a lot of the same guys as last year. They're just playing
with an attitude, and we love watching it. And that gives us a
spark now."

Jerry Hughes had two sacks and a forced fumble, and backup
linebacker Jamie Blatnick recovered a snap that sailed over
backup quarterback Matt Cassel's head and into the end zone for
a touchdown. The Bills improved to 2-0.

The Vikings (0-2) again sputtered on offense without their top
threat, running back Adrian Peterson, who continues to be rested
through the preseason.

Starter Christian Ponder went 5 of 12 for 53 yards passing
through five series. Cassel wasn't much better in a first half
in which the Vikings combined for 74 yards of offense and four
first downs.

Though both teams have plenty still to work on, here are five
things we learned from the game:

1. EJ IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel
took yet another step toward securing the starting job.

After veteran Kevin Kolb struggled in playing the entire first
half, Manuel took over and opened the second half with a
14-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 4-yard TD pass to Brad Smith.
Manuel hit all six attempts for 44 yards passing on the drive,
and combined to go 10 of 12 for 92 yards in three series.

"I just want to continue to show (offensive coordinator
Nathaniel) Hackett that I can learn and continue to show what I
can do out on the field to my teammates," Manuel said. "I am
satisfied and happy we won the game."

The rookie first-round pick out of Florida State picked up where
he left off after going 16 of 21 for 107 yards passing and a
touchdown in a 44-20 win over Indianapolis last weekend.

Kolb showed plenty of rust in getting off to a slow start on
Friday. He finished 13 of 21 for 111 yards passing and an
interception. He returned to practice this past week since
twisting his left knee while slipping on a wet rubber mat on
Aug. 3. It was Kolb's first appearance since Oct. 14, when he
with Arizona and sustained a season-ending rib injury in a 19-16
overtime loss to Buffalo.

Coach Doug Marrone said it's too early to announce whether
Manuel or Kolb will start against the Washington Redskins next
weekend.

2. STILL PONDERING: Following a preseason-opening 27-13 loss to
Houston, Ponder opened the week by calling the Vikings' next two
games crucial for the offense to find its groove.

That certainly didn't happen against Buffalo. Ponder was sacked
by Hughes on the first play from scrimmage, and Minnesota's
offense hardly recovered.

"If this was a game that counted, it'd be tough," Ponder said.
"But it's more practice for us."

Coach Leslie Frazier chalked it up to being a preseason lesson,
and that he wasn't anticipating the Bills to come at them with
an exotic blitzing attack. And yet he did acknowledge having
some concerns.

"We could've done some things better, no matter what they did,"
he said. "We didn't execute as well as we could have."

3. BAD SNAPS: The Vikings were undone by two bad snaps from
center.

Taking over at the Bills 31 after Kolb threw an interception,
Ponder was looking the other way when center John Sullivan
snapped the ball. It led to a 14-yard loss. The drive ended with
Blair Walsh missing a 49-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Backup center Joe Berger was then at fault for sailing his snap
over Cassel's head on the play that led to Blatnick's TD.

4. BILLS ON A ROLL: Buffalo has not only won two preseason games
for the first time since going 2-2 in 2010, the team has already
surpassed its preseason points total from each of the past two
years. The Bills already have scored 64 points in two games
under new coach Doug Marrone. They managed 59 last year, and 54
in 2011 under former coach Chan Gailey.

5. QUICK HITS: Hughes was starting in place of defensive end
Mario Williams, who was given a rest after complaining of
soreness on Wednesday. ... Vikings rookie first-round pick WR
Cordarrelle Patterson had two catches for 19 yards, a step back
after a four-catch, 54-yard outing against Houston. ... Frazier
declined to say whether Peterson will play against San Francisco
next weekend.

---

Online: AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

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