Buffalo Bills fans will be able to watch the team’s next two home games from the comfort of their couch should they so choose.
The team announced Thursday its next two home games, Sunday against Carolina and Sept. 29 against Baltimore, are sellouts and thus will air on local television. Sunday’s game against the Panthers will air at 1 p.m. on FOX, with Dick Stockton on play by play and Ronde Barber as the color analyst. The game against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens will air on CBS.
The Bills in recent seasons have struggled with having home games blacked out on local TV, especially late in the season. Last year, the final three home games in December – against Jacksonville, St. Louis and the New York Jets – did not sell out.
This season’s schedule is more favorable for ticket sales, with three home games in September before the weather takes a turn for the worse. The Bills play only one time in Ralph Wilson Stadium in the final six weeks of the season, on Dec. 22 against Miami (one of their “home” games takes place Dec. 1 in Toronto).
One of the unanswered questions from Sunday’s loss to New England was why Bills coach Doug Marrone used a challenge to dispute a ruling that Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was down by contact after a 3-yard rush in the first quarter.
Officials reviewed the play and upheld the call on the field, that Ridley was down and had not fumbled. What made the challenge perplexing from the Bills’ perspective is that the Patriots appeared to recover the fumble. Marrone explained why he threw the red challenge flag.
“Here’s exactly what happened. One, we didn’t see the bean bag thrown for them to say that it was a fumble. We had 100 percent information that it was a fumble. But then what happened is, from where I was, I saw Manny get up and point that we had the ball,” Marrone said, referring to Bills linebacker Manny Lawson. “So as we’re waiting to get the feed, which we didn’t get that feed nor did the officials get that feed, New England’s trying to hurry up. So I’m trying to put two and two together.”
Marrone said he felt taking a chance to that point in the game on a potential turnover was worth the risk.
“If you’re going to take a chance on a turnover – which would have been a big thing on that side – you know if you can’t get the feed and you have to make a decision what to do, the first half you’re OK,” he said. “You know you may lose a timeout, but it gets critical in the second half when you can’t afford to lose those timeouts and you have to be sure.”
There was no change to the Bills’ injury report Thursday. Kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin), guard Doug Legursky (knee), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand) and cornerback Ron Brooks (foot) did not practice, while safety Jairus Byrd (feet) was limited.
Marrone did not rule Hopkins out, saying he hoped to have him kick today or Saturday. Legursky, Gilmore, Goodwin and Brooks will not play, while Byrd’s status is still to be determined.
Running back Kenjon Barner (foot) and linebacker Jon Beason (knee) did not practice Thursday for Carolina. Three other players were limited – cornerback James Dockery (thumb), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) and tight end Ben Hartsock (foot).
The Bills will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday. The helmet will be white with a standing red buffalo, while the jerseys will be white with blue numbers and names.