ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Rex Ryan said it’s finally time to select the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback after EJ Manuel made a case to reclaim his old job in a 43-19 preseason win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night.
For Pittsburgh (1-3), Michael Vick showed no signs of rust in making his preseason debut four days after signing with the Steelers.
Vick is competing with Landry Jones for the No. 2 job after backup Bruce Gradkowski sustained a season-ending injury to his left hand in 24-19 win over Green Bay last week.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn’t pleased with how his starting defense allowed 128 yards of offense and two touchdowns on the first six plays from scrimmage.
“We continue to be slow starters and that’s disturbing,” Tomlin said of a defense that went through a major offseason overhaul. “Some of those guys, quite frankly, look like the walking dead.”
Tomlin wouldn’t identify who, but the Steelers allowed a 41-yard run to Fred Jackson on the opening play. And then linebacker Ryan Shazier slipped in coverage, allowing tight end Charles Clay to get open on his 67-yard TD.
In five-plus series, Manuel went 7 of 8 for 170 yards and two touchdowns, a 67-yarder to Clay and a 37-yarder to Tobias Palmer.
“This is the ideal situation we had talked about. This is exactly what I wanted. And all three guys played to their abilities,” Ryan said, upon announcing he intends to spend Sunday having a lengthy discussion with his staff to determine whether Manuel, Tyrod Taylor or Matt Cassel will be the team’s season-opening starter. “The decision will be made and we’ll move forward.”
Manuel is leaving the decision up to the Bills brain trust.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” the Bills’ 2013 first-round draft pick said, when asked if he felt he’s done enough. “It’s coach’s decision. But I know I played well.”
Taylor went 12 of 13 for 122 yards and scored on a 20-yard run. Cassel went 6 of 7 for 38 yards in just two series for Buffalo (2-1)
Observations from the game:
Steelers: Pittsburgh might be searching for another kicker after Garrett Hartley hurt his right hamstring during a kickoff in the first quarter. Tomlin would only say Hartley’s injury “doesn’t look good.” The Steelers signed the seventh-year player on Aug. 11 after Shawn Suisham sustained a season-ending injury to his left knee in the Hall of Fame game against Minnesota.
Bills: Dan Carpenter missed a 53-yard field-goal attempt wide left and also pushed an extra-point attempt wide right.
Steelers: First-round pick, linebacker Bud Dupree, had one tackle before leaving the game with a right foot injury.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL