Bills 20, Vikings 16

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