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Buffalo Bills' feel-good start to the season halted by 22-10 home loss to Chargers

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ORCHARD PARK, New York — Quarterback EJ Manuel and the Buffalo Bills' feel-good start to the season were derailed by the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Manuel and the offense were inconsistent. The Bills' defense proved porous. And very little else went right for Buffalo in a 22-10 loss.

"We just didn't play how we wanted to play," Manuel said. "We left some plays on the field. When you get a chance to hit a home run, you've got to hit a home run."

Manuel went 23 of 39 for 238 yards and a touchdown. But 75 of those yards came during a meaningless final drive that ended with Manuel throwing an incompletion into the end zone.

On defense, the Bills (2-1) were picked apart by Philip Rivers, who went 18 of 25 for 256 yards and two touchdown passes to Eddie Royal. Rivers and the Chargers (2-1) built off a 30-21 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

"It was disappointing," Bills cornerback Corey Graham said. "They did pretty much the same thing the whole game, and we gave it to them the whole game."

Fred Jackson scored on an 11-yard catch-and-run for Buffalo, which blew an opportunity to get off to a 3-0 start for only the third time since 1993.

Injuries were an issue, too. Left guard Chris Williams (back), safety Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) and receiver Marcus Easley (left knee) did not return.

Manuel had difficulty finding chemistry with his receivers. At times he threw and they simply weren't looking for the ball, including a pair of incompletions intended for first-round draft pick Sammy Watkins.

The rookie was late turning for one pass, which sailed past him on what was a costly incompletion. It came on fourth-and-3 at the Chargers 43 with 8:25 left.

"Just throwing the ball a hair too soon," Manuel said. "I may be seeing something that he may not see and vice versa. That's just a matter of us getting on the same page consistently."

PHOTO: Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Watkins had two catches for 19 yards, a week after making eight receptions for 117 yards and a score in a 29-10 win over Miami.

Manuel also gave up a safety after being penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone with 3:23 remaining.

Coach Doug Marrone refused to single out his second-year quarterback.

"We need everyone to make plays," Marrone said.

San Diego took control on consecutive possessions spanning halftime. Nick Novak capped a seven-play, 61-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal to put the Chargers up 13-3 with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.

Rivers opened the third by marching the Chargers 80 yards on 14 plays, scoring on a 5-yard pass to Royal. Rivers completed 4 of 6 attempts for 56 yards on the possession and converted all three third-down chances.

The Chargers defense had three sacks and limited the Bills to 11 first downs and 171 yards of offense through three quarters.

San Diego beat Buffalo despite a depleted offensive backfield. Already missing starting running back Ryan Mathews (knee), the Chargers lost backup Danny Woodhead early to a right ankle injury. Donald Brown stepped in and finished with 89 yards of total offense.

The Bills were unable to muster a threat after Jackson cut the Chargers' lead to 20-10 late in the third quarter.

Buffalo's next drive ended with Corey Liuget sacking Manuel for a 17-yard loss.

The sell-out crowd began heading for the exits with 5:31 left when defensive end Kendall Reyes sacked Manuel for a 10-yard loss to force a punt on fourth-and-20 at Buffalo's 10.


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