Webb rallies Panthers to 25-24 preseason win over Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Third-string quarterback Joe Webb rallied the Carolina Panthers to a last-minute victory and spoiled Rex Ryan’s debut as Bills coach in both team’s preseason opener on Friday night.

Webb’s short pass to running back Brandon Wegher led to a 42-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left. Webb then hit Paul Browning for a 2-point conversion to seal the victory, as coach Ron Rivera went for the win rather than have the game drag into overtime.

Though the Bills’ third-string defense was on the field, it was still a disappointing loss for Ryan. He’s the defensive-minded specialist who was fired by the New York Jets and took over in Buffalo after Doug Marrone stepped down on Dec. 31.

Buffalo was in a position to win after EJ Manuel put them ahead by hitting receiver Deonte Thompson in stride on a deep post pattern for a 51-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

Panthers starter Cam Newton went 5 of 10 for 83 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.

For Buffalo, veteran Matt Cassel started and was efficient in completing 7 of 8 for 45 yards in two series.

Observations from the game:

ENEMKPALI’S DEBUT

Linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali made his Bills’ debut three days after being released by the Jets for a sucker punch that broke the jaw of starting quarterback Geno Smith. Buffalo claimed Enemkpali off waivers on Wednesday, and he entered the game with the second stringers.

He finished with two tackles, including one for a loss. Enemkpali was also penalized for being offside on a Panthers’ drive that ended with Graham Gano hitting a 47-yard field goal with 1 second left in the first half.

”Getting out there just cleared my mind,” Enemkpali said, while refusing to discuss what happened in New York. ”Everybody was welcoming. Everybody talked to me. Everybody treated me like I’ve been here before.”

QUARTERBACK WATCH

Panthers: Newton played into the second quarter, and was pulled after a seven-play, 80-yard TD drive that included a 38-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr., up the right sideline. Derek Anderson went 7 of 12 for 83 yards, including a 12-yard TD pass to Brenton Bersin on the first drive of the second half. Webb went 8 of 15 for 107 yards.

Bills: Ryan announced Tyrod Taylor will start Thursday, when Buffalo plays at Cleveland. Taylor, who spent the previous four seasons as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore, displayed his dual-threat ability. He completed 5 of 8 attempts for 49 yards, and also had six carries for 47 yards in playing three series. Manuel went 4 of 8 for 77 yards, and didn’t get much help from third-string center Alex Kupper, who botched consecutive snaps.

ROOKIE WATCH

Panthers: Linebacker Shaq Thompson, the team’s first-round pick out of Washington, did not play because of a hamstring injury. Second-round pick, receiver Devin Funchess, had two catches for a team-leading 53 yards.

Bills: Cornerback Ronald Darby had a tough outing. The second-round pick out of Florida State was late turning around in being burned on Benjamin’s TD catch. Darby had solid coverage on Ginn’s 38-yard catch, but was beaten by Newton’s perfectly placed pass. John Miller, a third-round pick competing for the starting job at right guard, made a key block in opening a hole for LeSean McCoy on a 7-yard run.

SITTING OUT

Panthers: Starting DLs Charles Johnson (calf), Star Lotulelei (foot) and starting RB Jonathan Stewart (rest).

Bills: WR Percy Harvin, OG Richie Incognito and DT Kyle Williams were held out for precautionary reasons after being hurt in practice.

INJURY UPDATE

Panthers: Reserve CB Teddy Williams (head).

Bills: WRs Marcus Easley (knee) and Marcus Thigpen (ankle), DEs Jarius Wynn (knee) and Corbin Bryant (knee).

RUSTY McCOY

McCoy, acquired in an offseason trade with Philadelphia, wasn’t happy with his debut despite showing off his turn-on-a-dime ability, highlighted by an 8-yard catch, during which he spun out of the arms of star linebacker Luke Kuechly. ”I didn’t play well today,” said McCoy, who also had six carries for 16 yards. ”I need to knock this rust off and get into the groove of things.”

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