Ten Plays That Shaped the Game: Let's call it 5 INTs and a funeral - The Buffalo News

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Ten Plays That Shaped the Game: Let's call it 5 INTs and a funeral

I can think of only one uglier first half ever in Buffalo Bills football history.

That was in the middle of the 1977 season. The Bills were 1-5 and got steamrolled by the Seattle Seahawks. Jim Zorn passed for 296 yards in the first half and led Seattle to a 42-3 lead at intermission. The Seahawks went up, 49-3, and won, 56-17. O.J. Simpson was lost to a season-ending knee injury and never played another snap for Buffalo.

Seattle's 559 yards that day set a record for a Bills foe and still ranks fourth most ever against Buffalo. The 56 points are tied for second most.

The halftime score Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers was almost the same, 40-7. The final was 54-24.

Ten plays that shaped the game? Let's call it five interceptions and a funeral:

1. Over and out. Even after Nathan Peterman's first three INTs, the Bills were not dead. They were on the ropes, trailing 17-7, 2:11 into the second quarter. The fourth pickoff put a fork in the Buffalo carcass.

Cornerback Casey Hayward jumped a quick-out pass to the right sideline for Deonte Thompson at the Buffalo 15. Peterman did not get enough steam on the throw because he got hit by Joey Bosa as he released the ball.

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The ball was on the inside of the receiver, not the outside of the receiver, and Hayward was playing the pickoff all the way. It looked like he would have been in the path of the pass, even if Peterman was not hit.

Four plays later, the Chargers were in the end zone and had a 24-7 lead. Peterman got the chance to throw one more interception, but the outcome was effectively decided.

2. Carom INT. Fullback Patrick DiMarco was to blame on the opening interception that Korey Toomer returned 59 yards for a touchdown. Peterman's pass hit DiMarco squarely in the hands. It was a tad hard, but it was not a bullet. Peterman had to unload a bit early because Bosa was so quick to pursue the bootleg to the right.

3. Late over middle I. Heat from Bosa forced Peterman into a dangerous pass over the middle late in the down on the Bills' second drive. Bosa beat Jordan Mills on a bull rush. Peterman stepped back just as he threw –- off his back foot. That forced a severe underthrow. The ball up the right seam for Brandon Tate was intercepted by Hayward 27 yards downfield. Bad decision by the quarterback.

4. Late over the middle II. The Bills designed what was supposed to be a safe pass play on their fourth series, late in the first quarter. They kept seven men into block. San Diego rushed five.

The problem: One of the five was Bosa. He beat Mills cleanly to the outside. Running back Travaris Cadet was on that side to help, but the Chargers blitzed Adrian Phillips off the edge. Cadet had to step out to block Phillips.

It was a good blitz design by the Chargers to guarantee a one-on-one matchup for Bosa, who hit Peterman to force a fluttering pass over the middle. It was intercepted by Tre Boston 15 yards downfield.

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5. Off target. The fifth interception was an off-target pass up the left sideline for Thompson. High and too inside. Bosa hit Peterman after he released the ball, but that did not affect the ball placement. Trevor Williams made the easy interception. It allowed Los Angeles to get a last-second field goal to end the half.

6. Bad blow. Kelvin Benjamin went out for the game on the fourth play from scrimmage after catching an 18-yard quick slant. The injury to his right knee did not look good.

7. Sack TD. You can't blame Tyrod Taylor for hanging in the pocket too long and taking a sack by Bosa in the third quarter. The ball bounced into the hands of Melvin Ingram, who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.

8. Fade TD. Keenan Allen has caught 277 passes from Philip Rivers over the past five seasons. Those two showed whey they make such a good combination on the 21-yard TD pass in the second quarter. Bills slot cornerback Leonard Johnson had pretty good coverage, but Rivers hit Allen on a back-shoulder fade for the score.

9. Shady TD. LeSean McCoy juked out Boston on a run around left end for his 27-yard touchdown.

10. Speedy Shady. McCoy's 37-yard run set up his first-quarter TD. It was a similar play around left end. Tight end Khari Lee sealed off the defensive end, while Phillips got too aggressive and out of position.

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