In the NFL, legends are forged through late-game heroics. Bills quarterback EJ Manuel realized on Sunday that he had an opportunity to take a step in that direction with his teammates.
Before taking the field while trailing 23-17 against the Panthers, Manuel called the other offensive players together and urged them to embrace the opportunity.
“I just gave everyone a fist-bump and said, ‘Hey, let’s go be legendary,’” Manuel told PFT Live on Tuesday. “The whole situation played out great for us. We handled the situation very well and Coach [Nathaniel] Hackett gave us some great calls and allowed us to make some great plays and great decisions.”
Manuel made plenty of great decisions on the 80-yard drive, constantly taking what the Carolina defense was giving him with short passes underneath the coverage. Manuel only took one shot down the field, and the interception was overturned by a pass interference penalty on Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The drive ended with Manuel throwing a short lob to a wide-open Steve Johnson, who slipped from the left slot to the left corner of the end zone when a pair of Panthers followed Chris Hogan instead. But Manuel didn’t have a chance to freak out when he saw Johnson wide open.
“I threw ball even before he came out of his cut,” Manuel said. “So if he had been covered or not, that ball would have landed right where it landed anyways. It just so happened that he was wide open. I think that was the best thing about it, just trying to throw before he came out of his cut and not necessarily seeing him when he was standing there wide open.”
Johnson made the catch, the Bills avoided overtime by making the extra point, and the legend of EJ Manuel was born.