CHARLOTTE – For the second week in a row, the Buffalo Bills' defense was impressive.
Of course, for the second week in a row, the unit did not face a starting quarterback.
In last week's 24-16 preseason-opening victory against the Indianapolis Colts, the Bills went up against Jacoby Brissett while Andrew Luck was held out with a calf injury. In Friday night's 27-14 win against the Carolina Panthers, they took on Kyle Allen while Cam Newton was rested.
So, with that asterisk firmly in place, it's time to take note of some of the very good things the Bills' D did. Such as:
- Cornerback Kevin Johnson intercepting a pass thrown right to him and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bills a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. The play would figure to help him in the competition for the fourth cornerback spot. The free-agent signee from the Houston Texans has so far proven to be the best outside backup on the roster.
- Rookie tackle Ed Oliver batting down a pass on third down in the first quarter. Oliver showed superb instincts in positioning himself perfectly to swat down Allen's throw.
- End Trent Murphy sacking Allen for an eight-yard loss on a fourth-and-2 play when the Panthers decided to go for it deep in Bills territory in the second quarter.
- The Panthers' starter completed only four of 11 passes for 32 yards and finished with a passer rating of 44.9. His immediate replacement, Will Grier, wasn't much better, going 8-of-14 for 64 yards and a passer rating of 39.
Perhaps the Bills' defense will get more of a legitimate test on the assumption they get an extended look at Matthew Stafford in next week's preseason game at Detroit.
Other noteworthy elements from the Bills' second preseason game:
- Andre Roberts showed why the Bills made him one of their key free-agent signings. Having established himself as one of the game's top kick returners before the New York Jets allowed him to hit the open market, Roberts gave the Bills a taste of what to expect this season with a 37-yard punt return in the first quarter. Roberts made a quick move to the outside and found himself with a whole lot of green before running out of bounds at the Panthers' 35. That helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy.
- That was the good news from the Bills' special teams. The bad was Stephen Hauschka missing wide right on a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter. Hauschka missed on a 34-yard try last week.
- Duke Williams' mostly quiet summer showed a little life with a nice leaping catch he made for a nine-yard touchdown on a throw from Matt Barkley to the back corner of the end zone. That gave the Bills a 24-3 lead. Williams still would figure to have a long way to go to secure a roster spot.