Observations from the Bills’ incredible, 13-7 overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at New Era Field.
1. The spectacle of the weather is what everyone will remember from this game. Veteran writers, some of whom have been covering the Bills since their current stadium opened in 1973, said they have never seen a game with such poor visibility. Starting about an hour before kickoff and continuing to fall at ridiculous rates, the snow was relentless. Amazingly, the lower bowl was fairly full. Bills fans are a special, special breed.
2. Those in attendance will have an incredible story to tell. The snow accumulating in feet was one thing, but the utterly bananas number of wild plays at the end of the game made this one extra, uh, special. Start with the fact that the Colts had a 19-play, 77-yard drive that took 9:53 off the clock in the fourth quarter and ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle. A similar play appeared to give the Colts what would have been the win, but a two-point conversion to Doyle was wiped out on a pass interference call against wide receiver Kamar Aiken. That forced the Colts to attempt a 43-yard extra point, which kicker Adam Vinatieri — who should be a first-ball Hall of Famer — amazingly made.
3. Overtime appeared to be coming after that, but not before third-string quarterback Joe Webb threw an interception to Colts safety Matthias Farley. Seriously. What in the world Webb was doing throwing in that situation, I’ll never know. He got bailed out when Vinatieri missed from the exact same spot he had just made the extra point. Webb was in the game because …
4. The horrendous conditions perhaps contributed to a pair of potentially significant injuries for the Bills. Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, who got the start in place of Tyrod Taylor, left in the third quarter and was taken to the locker room for evaluation of a head injury. Peterman was hurt at the end of a 2-yard scramble when he was hit by Colts defenders Johnathan Hankins and Antonio Morrison. Later in the quarter, receiver Kelvin Benjamin left with a knee injury. Benjamin appeared to hurt his right knee, the same one in which a torn meniscus has kept him out the last two games. He briefly came back in the game, but then got hurt again.
5. McDermott dodged a major bullet. His decision to punt on fourth-and-2 from the Colts' 41-yard line looked like a terrible decision, but it paid off when the defense got the ball back and Webb connected with Deonte Thompson on a 34-yard completion on a third-and-6 play at the 2-minute warning. From there, LeSean McCoy broke free for a 21-yard touchdown run to win the game. Amazing.
6. Even in a game in which offense was understandably hard to come by, it was easy to second-guess offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Facing a fourth and 2 on the Bills’ first possession, Dennison called for a pass by Webb out of the Wildcat formation to tight end Charles Clay. Normally, I’d say that was as good an example of overthinking things as you’ll ever see, but that wasn’t even the most egregious call of the first half.
7. Second-guess No. 2 came in the second quarter. Facing a fourth-and-5 from the Colts’ 36-yard line, the Bills opted to go for it by throwing a fade route to Kelvin Benjamin. Not surprisingly, that fell incomplete. I didn’t like the decision to go for the first down in the first place given how important field position was, and I liked the play call even less.
8. Major props to Colton Schmidt. He was great all game. With the Bills backed up on their 5-yard line late in the second quarter, he got off a 40-yard punt that pushed the Colts out of scoring range. After the Buffalo defense forced a three-and-out, the Bills broke the scoreless tie.
9. That was credit largely to running back LeSean McCoy, who gained 97 yards on 15 carries in the first half. McCoy ripped off back-to-back runs of 23 and 25 yards, even hurdling a defender on the first of those, to get the Bills into Indianapolis territory. From there, the passing offense took over.
10. Peterman completed a 21-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin after McCoy’s run. The last time those two connected on a completion was in Los Angeles under slightly different weather conditions. On the next play, Peterman connected with Benjamin again on a fade for an 8-yard touchdown. Those are the exact type of plays the Bills hoped to get from the passing game when they acquired Benjamin.