The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

August 17, 2013

Should Vikings fans be worried?

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The attacking style of defense Mike Pettine is introducing in Buffalo certainly has Bills center Eric Wood's attention.

"You can hear the hits from the sideline. That's something we haven't had," Wood said after the defense keyed a 20-16 preseason victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday night. "It's a lot of the same guys as last year.

"They're just playing with an attitude, and we love watching it. And that gives us a spark now."

Jerry Hughes had two sacks and a forced fumble, and backup linebacker Jamie Blatnick recovered a snap that sailed over backup quarterback Matt Cassel's head and into the end zone for a touchdown. The Bills improved to 2-0.

The Vikings (0-2) again sputtered on offense without their top threat, running back Adrian Peterson, who continues to be rested through the preseason.

Starter Christian Ponder went 5 of 12 for 53 yards passing through five series. Cassel wasn't much better in a first half in which the Vikings combined for 74 yards of offense and four first downs.

Though both teams have plenty still to work on, here are three things we learned from the game:

1. EJ IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel took yet another step toward securing the starting job.

After veteran Kevin Kolb struggled in playing the entire first half, Manuel took over and opened the second half with a 14-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 4-yard TD pass to Brad Smith. Manuel hit all six attempts for 44 yards passing on the drive, and combined to go 10 of 12 for 92 yards in three series.

The rookie first-round pick out of Florida State picked up where he left off after going 16 of 21 for 107 yards passing and a touchdown in a 44-20 win over Indianapolis last weekend.

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