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Third-quarter analysis: Buccaneers 24, Bills 14

Maybe this was the jolt of confidence the Buffalo Bills’ starting offense will need.

After 18 drives during the preaseason failed to reach the end zone, the Bills finally ended that drought with a touchdown drive to start the third quarter today against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Quarterback EJ Manuel bounced back from a first half in which he went 9 of 18 for 67 yards and one interception to lead a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown drive on the Bills’ first possession of the third quarter. Manuel ended the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams.

An important note to make here, though, is that the drive came against the Bucs’ second-string offense.

The Bills’ second drive of the second half also found the end zone, as Fred Jackson ran one in from 8 yards out. Manuel ended the quarter completing all 10 of his passes.

If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, that’s something to feel good about after a dreadful first half.

Injuries adding up: After losing safety Da’Norris Searcy in the first half, the Bills began the third quarter by announcing that tight end Lee Smith (foot) and receiver Marquise Goodwin (neck) will not return to the game.

Homecoming for Means: Buffalo native Steven Means is playing his first professional game in his hometown. Means, a second-year defensive end with the Buccaneers and product of the University at Buffalo, forced Manuel out of bounds and was credited with a sack during the third quarter.

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