EJ Manuel's speech 'fired up' Buffalo Bills before win


EJ Manuel wasn't named a team captain before the season started, but that doesn't mean he's not allowed to lead.

After the Buffalo Bills23-20 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, several of Manuel's teammates revealed that the second-year quarterback stopped an offensive meeting on Saturday night and gave a speech that "fired up" the team heading into the game.

"He told (offensive coordinator Nathaniel) Hackett, 'Hold on, I got something to say,'" wide receiver Robert Woods said of Manuel, per ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. "And he stood up in front of the whole offense. Had everyone's ears about five minutes. Shut the whole meeting down pretty much. There was nothing else that needed to be said after he spoke."

Manuel's teammates said the quarterback wanted to express that despite all of the negative attention around the Bills' offense, they had everything they needed to win right in that room. The emotion from the speech carried over into the game on Sunday.

"We were fired up. We've taken a lot of heat lately. I think it all culminated in the past couple days," center Eric Wood added. "I think we were kind of fed up with everybody talking about us as poorly as they were."

Manuel wasn't splashy, going 16-for-22 passing for 173 yards a touchdown pass, a scoring scamper and one pick. However, unlike in the past, he managed the game with confidence. The young player still suffered through bouts of check-downitis and golongaphobia, but when it counted he made plays and moved the chains.

Game manager is a step up from where we saw Manuel last year and in five dreadful preseason games. If he can parlay that experience into another successful performance against a better defense than Chicago, Manuel will get more than his teammates fired up.

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