Buffalo Bills show much promise in preseason opener against Carolina

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

The Buffalo Bills showed a lot of positives on both offense and defense in the 28-23 defeat to the Carolina Panthers to open the preseason.

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, this saying can finally be spoken among Buffalo Bills fans: Football is back.

The Buffalo Bills welcomed the visiting Carolina Panthers to New Era Field in Week 1 preseason action. Though this game only marked the beginning of preseason, the Bills offensive and defensive units looked about where they should be this early in.

Offensively, all three quarterbacks saw playing time in this game with Nathan Peterman being given the starting nod. In his limited action, Peterman showed the Buffalo faithful that last season’s outing against the Chargers was but a blunder and he has improved through the offseason. Completing 9 of 10 passes for 119 yards, a lone touchdown and a single interception, Peterman shattered the previous stigma he carried.

Connecting with former Carolina Panther Kelvin Benjamin for a  28-yard touchdown reception at the 7:17 mark of the first quarter, the Bills took the lead early on in this game. Playing with the lead for five minutes, the Panthers answered the bell. Running in a two-yard dive in Buffalo Bills territory tied the game at seven as Christian McCaffrey made his presence felt.

Second quarter play saw the entrance of AJ McCarron into the ball game as Peterman was subbed out.

McCarron too saw 10 pass attempts during his time under center completing seven of them for 116 yards. Not being particularly successful with the deep ball, McCarron opted for more short-to-mid passes which allowed him to get in his groove and feel out his new offense.

As time expired in the half and the Bills made their way to the dressing room, Josh Allen mania consumed the fans at New Era Field. Seeing much to cheer about in the first half, all eyes were on the No. 7 overall pick and his arm as he took to the field to start the second half.

Wasting no time showing off his arm strength, Allen aired out a deep ball to Robert Foster. Though this pass fell incomplete, Allen received quite the support from the fans in attendance as they witnessed first hand what the former Wyoming Cowboy was capable of. Playing out the remainder of the game, Allen went on to complete  9 of 19 passes for 116 yards. In his 30 minutes of NFL play, Allen showed a level of poise yet to be seen by a rookie of his stature.

Making a rookie-to-rookie connection, Allen recorded his first NFL touchdown by connecting with Ray-Ray McCloud for a 14-yard reception which brought the Bills within five late in the game.

Coming into the game playing with confidence, swagger and patience, it was hard not to notice how his appetite to learn every play affected the next play. Along with his notable ability to air out the ball, Allen showed late in the fourth quarter that he can do it on his feet. Escaping from a pile of Panthers with just over three minutes left to play, the 6-foot-5 rookie went barreling down the sidelines picking up yardage.

On the defensive side of the ball, the narrative that followed Buffalo last year being that the defense was their gem, carried on.

Holding Cam Newton to 84 yards (though his action was limited) and the Panthers to 28 points, the Bills defense stood their own. Recording both team and solo tackles, the Bills defense swarmed the ball making it difficult for the Panthers to find their mojo in spurts of the game.

Though preseason is more for the players both new and old to get their feet wet into the new NFL season, Thursday’s game showed that there is much to look forward to over the rainbow when the regular season starts.

A few notables taking away from Thursday’s game:

  • All three Buffalo quarterbacks combined for 351 yards and a completion percentage of 64 percent.
  • 2018 NFL draft pick Harrison Phillips recorded his first preseason sack.
  • Brandon Reilly and Kelvin Benjamin led the team in receiving with 59 yards apiece.

Next. Predicting the wide receiver roster spots. dark

The Bills are now set to prepare for their next preseason matchup against the Cleveland Browns.