An interception by safety Jonathan Meeks with 53 seconds to go in the fourth quarter secured the Buffalo Bills’ first win of the 2014 preseason, 20-18 against the Carolina Panthers (0-1) on Friday night.
The result was in question after third-string quarterback Joe Webb marched the Panthers down the field for a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive that brought the Panthers within two points. After the failed two-point conversion, Carolina managed to recover an onside kick with 1:53 remaining to give the offense one more shot to pull out the victory.
Meeks then watched as a pass that was intended for Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker managed to deflect directly into his hands to ice the game.
Webb, who played most of the game for Carolina, finished 16-0f-28 for 180 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The Bills (1-1) started the game with an impressive opening drive that saw second-year QB E.J. Manuel go 5-of-5 for 53 yards to lead the Bills inside the Panthers five. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they weren’t able to punch the ball into the endzone, as the Panthers defensive put forth an impressive goal line stand to deny Buffalo.
It was on that opening drive that star rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins made his first catch in the NFL. He finished the game with three receptions for 21 yards. Newly-acquired RB Bryce Brown finished with 11 carries for 64 yards, while Anthony “Boobie” Dixon ran for 28 yards and a touchdown of his own on nine carries.
On the Panthers side of things, normal starting quarterback Cam Newton was kept out of the game as he continues to rehab from ankle surgery. Starting in his place was backup Derek Anderson, who went 5-of-7 for 65 yards and a touchdown.
That touchdown pass went to rookie WR out of Florida State Kelvin Benjamin, who made a spectacular catch on his back in the endzone for a 29-yard score. That was his only catch of the night.
The Bills now have eight days until their next game when they play against the Pittsburgh Steelers; the Bills will be practicing in Pittsburgh with the Steelers during the week.
Carolina has 10 days off until they play the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that will be nationally televised on Fox starting at 8pm.