EJ Manuel could be excused for getting a little emotional after the Bills game against the Panthers on Sunday.
After all, he had just led the team on an 80-yard drive capped off with a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left on the clock. It was Manuel’s second game in the league and his first win, and he wanted to share it with someone special.
Just after throwing the final touchdown to Stevie Johnson, Manuel went to one knee, wiping tears from his eyes.
After the Bills kicked off and sacked Cam Newton to end the game, EJ Manuel again was overcome with emotion, and he ran to find his father on the edge of the crowd to celebrate.
It’s been an emotional year for the Manuel family, as EJ’s mother Jackie just beat breast cancer.
To top off the emotions of the triumphant win, Sunday was Erik Manuel’s birthday..
“I think we were both crying and just elated about the situation, being that it’s the first win and like I said, it’s his birthday,” EJ Manuel said after the game, according to the team’s transcript. “My dad has been to all my games since I was six years old so nothing’s changed. To see his face up in there before the game is awesome. Like I said, to have him in this opportunity and this situation is great.”
The win was also a bit of redemption for EJ Manuel. After the Bills made him the quarterback selected in the NFL draft last April, many followers questioned the pick and whether EJ would be ready to start in the NFL.
In Week 1 he proved that he belonged, nearly leading the Bills to an upset of the New England Patriots. Manuel staked the Bills to a lead with only a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but Tom Brady was able to lead his team down the field to kick the winning touchdown as time expired.
This time, it was EJ Manuel who got to play the role of hero.