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Daryl Johnston plays defense on Fox during Bills disaster

After the fourth interception of a pass by Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman on Sunday, Fox play-by-play man Chris Myers said "you have to be tough mentally to deal with this."

He was talking about Peterman's psyche after four of his first nine passes were intercepted.

But the line also could have been meant for Bills fans, who a few weeks ago thought that this could be the year the playoff drought ends.

It was my second favorite line of the day. My favorite line came near the end of the disaster that ended with the Los Angeles Chargers' 54-24 victory over the Bills.

Fox decided it was a good time to show the ending of the last Bills playoff game in 1999 – the Music City Miracle by the Tennessee Titans.

Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott looks on against the Los Angeles Chargers during fourth quarter action at the StubHub Center on Sunday. (Harry Scull Jr./ Buffalo News)

Fox analyst Daryl Johnston, a Western New York native and Lewiston-Porter High School graduate who played at Syracuse and won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, channeled all Buffalo fans.

"Why are you doing this to my people?” he asked.

It actually was the second time Johnston defended his hometown.

When Fox studio host Curt Menefee piled on before halftime and put on sunglasses before going outside in Los Angeles' 70 degree temperature "to make people in Buffalo hate us" even more, Johnston said: "As a guy from Buffalo I’m starting to get a little sensitive” about all the weather cracks.

It was nice to hear Johnston defend his home area.

But I imagine he may have made some Bills armchair fans want to shout when he defended Peterman and Coach Sean McDermott.

To put it mildly, Johnston was much gentler in his criticism than many in the local and national media were Sunday night and Monday morning and most likely will be the rest of the week.

National media crucifies McDermott for Peterman decision

Before the start of the game, Johnston agreed with the decision by McDermott to bench Tyrod Taylor in favor of Peterman even if it came with some risk and was a "bold calculated move."

While Bills fans were pulling their collective hairs out, Johnston was blaming everyone but the quarterback on three  interceptions – the tipped pass by Patrick DiMarco and the two interceptions on passes that Peterman floated while the Bills offensive line had trouble with the pressure of the Chargers' Joey Bosa.

It took the fourth pick for Johnston to fully blame Peterman.

"This one is on Peterman," said Johnston.

To Myers' credit, he asked Johnston all the right questions. They included when McDermott would or should pull the plug on Peterman, who should play quarterback next week and whether the Chargers or the Bills looked more likely to make the playoffs.

Not surprisingly after the 54-24 Charger win, Johnston said Los Angeles had a better chance at the playoffs because they have a franchise quarterback in Philip Rivers and a defense led by Bosa.

Johnston may be from Western New York, but he saw the same things everyone else saw.

If a Bills fan wants to try to be optimistic, they might accept that the Bills weren't going to beat the more talented Chargers anyway and at least the Peterman Experiment is over. Peterman's problems hid how badly the Bills defense was for the third straight game .

Myers wasn't in Peterman territory, but he made his share of sloppy errors.

He misspoke several times, saying Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka had made five out of six field goals without saying over how many games, confusing Taylor with  new Bills running back Travaris Cadet and making it sound like the Chargers lost to the Saints, 47-10, a week ago instead of the Bills. He also called the Bills coach "Sean McDonough." That's the name of ESPN's play-by-play man on Monday Night Football.

Here are more highs and lows of Sunday's coverage:

No Knock by Woods: Fox seemed fixated on Buffalo weather all day long. To his credit, ex-Bill and now Los Angeles Ram Robert Woods didn't bite on the attempt by Fox reporter Charissa Thompson to make him bash Buffalo and its weather in a pregame feature.

No Debate: Maybe Myers and Johnston were so surprised that the Bills' Stephen Hauschka kicked a 50-yard field goal on a fourth and 10 when they were down, 40-7, that they didn't think to discuss the decision. It certainly was worthy of a debate over why the Bills were doing it. It wasn't like Hauschka needed the practice.

The Smile: Fox's cameras caught a huge smile at the end of the game on the face of Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn, who was a Bills assistant and later head coach for last year's season finale. It said it all about how he felt about embarrassing the team that passed on him as head coach.

Candid Camera: Earlier, Fox's cameras caught Lynn and Rivers in an animated conversation, which led Myers to say he couldn’t tell if it was a pleasant one or a disagreement. By game's end, there was no confusion. They were both happy.

The Extremes: Myers noted the two extremes of the Bills quarterbacks with Taylor risk averse and Peterman unafraid to go down the field. "But I don't think he was careless," said Johnston. It was a head-scratching moment. By game's end, he noted that Taylor was taking more risks than he had against the Saints, which prompted Myers to smartly note it was against the Chargers when they were playing a softer defense.

Halftime Report: Fox sideline reporter Laura Okmin said McDermott hadn't decided who was going to play quarterback after the half. He went to Taylor. You wonder if the coach passed on an on-camera interview. If so, it is hard to blame him.

Stats Time: Myers said Peterman was the first quarterback to throw five interceptions in the first half since at least 1991 and that the 37 points at halftime were the most in Charger history. There were more embarrassing stats about the Bills defense as the game went on.

Mind-blowing: At halftime, Fox studio analyst Jimmy Johnson said of Peterman: “His mind is blown.” Then Johnson made the mind-blowing suggestion that Joe Webb play quarterback for the Bills in the second half instead of Taylor.

A Safe Bet: Menefee said of Peterman at halftime: “Something tells me he will never forget this first half.” Nor will Bills fans.

Family Guy: You had to feel for Peterman’s family, many of whom the quarterback said -- on WGR's John Murphy Show -- planned to be at the game.

The Continuing Education of a Bills Fan: Bills fans should think of Peterman's first half the next time a new QB looks decent in preseason.

A Class Act: After Peterman's first two interceptions, Okmin noted that Taylor was the first Bill in his ear to lend him support.

The Second Guess: Myers smartly noted that some people thought starting Peterman against the Chargers wasn't a great idea because of Bosa and their pass rush.

After Further Review: Fox officiating expert Mike Pereira thought a Chargers touchdown was going to be called short of the goal line but it stood. He is usually right.

Fake News: At game's start, Myers falsely claimed Peterman had a "terrific" preseason. He completed 54 percent of his preseason passes. But he didn't throw an interception.

The Experts: Though Johnston liked the Bills quarterback switch, CBS studio analyst Bill Cowher thought it was too early. CBS studio analyst Phil Simms weakly supported it. NBC's Tony Dungy said on Sunday Night Football "for the life of me, I don't know why they did it." ESPN analyst Rex Ryan, who was a big Taylor fan, didn't like it. He might have been smiling as widely as Anthony Lynn after the game proved him right.

The Future? After USC beat UCLA Saturday night, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said that UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is much closer to being NFL ready than USC’s Sam Darnold. He added Darnold should stay at USC next year. There are no guarantees with college quarterbacks.

Playoffs? You're Talking Playoffs? It is hard to see many more Bills wins, but at 5-5 their record is tied with the Baltimore Ravens for a wild-card playoff berth right now before looking at tiebreakers. That tells you a lot about the weakness of the league. As bad as the Bills have been for three weeks, fans may have to be tough mentally to deal with future playoff talk on TV.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

 

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