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Bucs drop Bills in home opener
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The $130 million renovations at Ralph Wilson Stadium the Buffalo Bills unveiled on Saturday have yet to translate into any glimpses of improvement for the home team.
The Bills were booed off the field at halftime while trailing 24-0 in a game in a preseason game they eventually lost 27-14 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2).
The unhappiness was directed mostly at an EJ Manuel-led offense that turned over the ball three times, managed just 82 yards and six first downs through eight first-half possessions, and never got beyond the Bucs 43.
"I don't think any of us are happy," coach Doug Marrone said. "When you play poorly, you should get booed. I don't have any problems with that."
It was another step back for the Bills (1-3) and particularly their offense, which finally scored its first touchdowns of the preseason in the third quarter against the Buccaneers' second-string offense.
"Obviously, we can't be happy with that," running back Fred Jackson said. "But at the same time, we can't let that define who we are. It's a preseason game that we didn't look well in. We have to go out and make some adjustments and continue to move on."
Jackson scored on an 8-yard run, and Mike Williams added a 14-yard touchdown catch. The touchdown by Williams, the former Buccaneers receiver, was the first by starters after they had been limited to four field goals on their first 18 preseason possessions.
"I knew we had to come back and play better in the second half, just try to wipe it away for the time being," Manuel said.
Manuel struggled, completing nine of his first 18 attempts for 67 yards, but finished 19 of 28 for 198 yards and two turnovers.
It was his lost fumble midway through the second quarter that helped the Buccaneers break the game open.
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald scooped up the loose ball and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown to put the Bucs ahead 17-0.
Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run and quarterback Josh McCown hit first-round pick Mike Evans on a perfectly placed 24-yard fade pass to the right.
McCown finished 13 of 16 for 112 yards, with a touchdown and interception in playing the first half. Evans, drafted seventh overall, had three catches for 44 yard
Bills running back C.J. Spiller also coughed up the ball when he was struck by linebacker Mason Foster while making a catch over the middle at midfield.
Discipline was an issue, too. The Bills were flagged three times over a five-play stretch. Add in Jackson being stopped for a 5-yard loss, and it led to Buffalo facing one third-and-40.
Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas wasn't impressed by his former team's offensive output midway through the second quarter. Thomas posted on his Twitter account that the starting offense "should play the entire game."
Buffalo closes its preseason hosting Detroit on Thursday.
Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin (neck), tight end Lee Smith (foot) and safety Da'Norris Searcy (stinger) were hurt in the first half and did not return. Buffalo played minus rookie first-round pick receiver Sammy Watkins (bruised ribs), and starting defensive tackle Kyle Williams (leg injury).
Tampa Bay safety Bradley McDougald did not return after hurting his knee.