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Special teams a 'huge factor' in Bills' win over Colts

If there's such a thing as a perfect performance on special teams, the Buffalo Bills came close to turning it in Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills dominated the Indianapolis Colts in every aspect of the third phase of the game during a 27-14 victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Doesn't get much better than that," coach Rex Ryan said. "That was a huge factor to why we won the game.

Ryan was referring to the first play of the second quarter, when Colts receiver Donte Moncrief fielded Jordan Gay's kickoff a yard deep in the end zone. Moncrief could only make it out to the Indianapolis 4-yard line before being tackled by Bills receiver Chris Hogan.

"I don't think I've seen that before," Ryan said, before referencing a botched fake on a kickoff return his New York Jets attempted last season that got blown up by the Bills on the 3-yard line. "I mean, it was amazing."

On six kickoffs Sunday against the Colts, Gay recorded three touchbacks. On the three kicks that were returned, the Colts gained just 58 yards.

"It starts with our kickoff guy," Ryan said. "He blasted them out of there. ... It tells you about the cover teams, but the kicks were amazing."

Ryan said Gay had a hang time of nearly 5 seconds on one kick, "which is unheard of. ... So very pleased there."

The Colts' average drive start on 10 possessions was their own 19-yard line, while the Bills started at their own 35-yard line, on average, on 11 possessions.

"Our punter was outstanding," Ryan said of Colton Schmidt, who averaged a career-high 50.4 yards per punt on five attempts.

That's the highest average for a Bills punter since Shawn Powell had a 51.0 average against the Jets on Sept. 22, 2013.

Schmidt placed two of his punts inside the 20-yard line, while averaging 46.2 net yards. On the two punts returned by the Colts, they gained just 1 yard.

Bills kicker Dan Carpenter also was perfect on the day, going 2 for 2 on field goals from 41 and 45 yards, respectively, and also knocking through all three extra points. League wide on Sunday, there were four missed extra points from the new 33-yard distance after just eight were missed all of last season from 20 yards out.

The Colts, meanwhile, missed their only field goal when Adam Vinatieri's 52-yard attempt sailed wide left. On the Bills' ensuing possession, Karlos Williams scored a 26-yard touchdown to put Buffalo up, 17-0.

"You have a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy – if you can say that about a kicker – with Vinatieri, he misses a kick and our guy comes out and launches one," Carpenter said. "That was a huge part of the game."

 

The Bills also recorded a turnover on special teams when linebacker Randell Johnson jumped on the muffed punt by Colts rookie receiver Phillip Dorsett. That led to Carpenter's 45-yard field goal that gave the Bills a three-possession lead with just over 8 minutes left in the game.

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