It wasn’t exactly the bounce-back performance the Bills were hoping for, but Buffalo’s offense showed some signs of life in Friday night’s 36-14 preseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field.
“We got a little bit going today,” QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “We were a little bit cleaner today, but not where we wanted to be obviously.”
Fitzpatrick and the first-team offense got off to another slow start in Minnesota, failing to cross their 32-yard line on their first two drives. But they bounced back on their third drive, overcoming a fumble and a two penalties to score the team’s first touchdown of the preseason on a 31-yard catch-and-run by WR Donald Jones.
“That was big to get a touchdown with that first group,” coach Chan Gailey said.
Fitzpatrick was 8 of 11 for 58 yards and the touchdown.
The Bills focused on the run game early. C.J. Spiller didn’t have much room to maneuver (two carries for minus-3 yards), but Fred Jackson set up Jones’ touchdown with a 20-yard run around the left side.
Buffalo’s first-team defense was hit or miss. The Bills had two early sacks, one each from Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, but easily gave up chunks of yardage in the passing game. Minnesota had long scoring drives on each of its first two possessions.
Young continues surge: QB Vince Young took another step forward in the battle to become Buffalo’s No. 2 QB. Young was 8 of 14 for 123 yards and had a 64-yard bomb to rookie WR T.J. Graham. “Vince did a good job,” Gailey said. “He hit the big pass, made a check out there, got us in a good spot, scored the touchdown. ... You’d have to say Vince came out a little bit ahead tonight.” Tyler Thigpen (8 of 15, 56 yards, 1 INT) got off to a good start but ended his night with a pick-six. “Tyler did good until he threw the interception,” Gailey said.
Safeties call plays: In a change, Buffalo’s safeties were equipped with radios in their helmets and relayed plays in the huddle instead of the linebackers. Said Gailey: “We were trying that out. Last week, we let the linebackers do it. This week, we wanted to see if it’s better for the safeties to have the headset on and for them to make the calls. We just wanted to see if that was better.” Gailey said it was too early to draw any conclusions.
Howell performing well: Undrafted rookie S Delano Howell stood out amongst the reserves for the second week in a row. Howell missed all of Buffalo’s spring practices due to Stanford’s exam schedule but is making a push for the fourth and final backup S spot. “He’s done some good things,” Gailey said. “I told him on the sideline before the game, he’s really picked it up and done a good job. He’s making a real run at this thing. He’s been impressive the last three weeks.”
Pick-sixes end night: In a bizarre ending to the game, the Bills gave up two pick-sixes in the closing minutes to Vikings LB Audie Cole. Two Bills QBs -- Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith -- threw the INTs.
For more updates on the Bills follow correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLBUF and@MarkLud12.