CARSON, Calif. — Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 54-24 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers worked out:
1. Defend that dirt surrounding Nathan Peterman. Not even close.
Center Eric Wood was right to say he and the rest of the supporting cast needed to do a much better job for their rookie quarterback in his first NFL start.
Although the Chargers didn't sack Peterman, they did a good job of pressuring him. The dominant pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram generally had its way with the Bills' offensive line. Bosa hurried Peterman into one interception. He also had a strip sack on Tyrod Taylor that Ingram recovered and returned 39 yards for a touchdown.
Additionally, fullback Patrick DiMarco needed to catch the perfect pass that that he allowed to bounce off his hands and turn into a pick-six for Peterman's first interception.
2. Kelvin Benjamin becomes a prominent part of the game plan. It was clearly the plan, but circumstances caused that to change.
On fourth play of the Bills' first drive, Peterman completed a 20-yard pass across the middle to Benjamin. The receiver suffered a right knee injury on the play, and didn't return to the game.
Peterman is a pocket passer and is known for having a quick release. He also, as demonstrated in part by the five interceptions he threw in the first half, isn't afraid to fire in the direction of a receiver who is covered. Which is almost always the case with Benjamin, who has a reputation for winning contested passes because of his enormous catch radius.
We'll never know how things would have gone if Benjamin were able to finish the game. Of course, that presumed Peterman would have had the chance to finish the game, too, rather than be yanked as he was in the second half.
3. LeSean McCoy has an overdue breakout game vs. the NFL's worst run defense. Check.
Not that it mattered, but McCoy did end up rushing for 114 yards on 13 carries, an average of 8.8 yards per rush.
He ran 27 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter (the Bills' first first-quarter TD of the season). He also caught a 12-yard scoring pass from Tyrod Taylor in the fourth quarter, when the game was way out of hand.
Nothing McCoy would do would overcome the fact the Bills had self-destructed in the first half and continued to play terrible defense.
4. The run defense avoids being humiliated for a third game in a row. Let's go three-quarters check here.
No, the Bills weren't trampled the way they were against the New Orleans Saints a week ago or even in their Thursday night loss against the New York Jets.
Of course, the Chargers didn't need to have that sort of effort on the ground. What they did in rushing for 146 yards on 35 carries, for an average of 4.2 yards per rush, was more than enough on a day when the opponent kept turning the ball over (with an interception and fumble returned for touchdowns) and generally was overmatched ... once again.
5. Avoid being scorched by Philip Rivers. Let's go half-check here.
You can't describe what Rivers did as scorching the Bills. He threw for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and had a 107.7 passer rating.
But Rivers did perform well enough in mostly taking advantage of the short field with which he frequently worked, thanks to the Bills' turnovers. He was far from great, but he didn't need to be. He needed to do exactly what he did as the Bills kept imploding.