The few fans who stuck it out to the bitter end Sunday inside New Era Field came alive with 4:53 remaining in what was a 47-10 Bills' loss to the New Orleans Saints.
It was at that point that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was replaced by rookie backup Nathan Peterman, drawing the heartiest cheers of a lost afternoon.
The cliche goes that the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town, and that was the case the moment Peterman stepped on the field Sunday.
“I know that just comes with the position,” the rookie out of Pitt said after the game. “It's a lot more than just one guy, though. I will say that from when I've been the starter in college and things like that, you know, it's always a team game. I'm here to do my job. Whatever the coaches tell me to do and just support the starter as much as I can.”
Fans clamoring for someone other than Taylor is nothing new. It’s been that way to varying degrees for each of his three seasons with the team. At 5-2, those calls were faint. With the team now 5-4, and coming off a miserable showing, they were heard loud and clear.
Except by Taylor.
“I don’t listen to the crowd,” he said when asked what his reaction was when Peterman was cheered coming in.
Taylor had taken every snap for the Bills through the first eight games, but coach Sean McDermott opted to make a switch with the score 40-3.
“He thought that was what was best for the team,” Taylor said. “Obviously I was (annoyed) at the performance, or lack of performance, I had and we had as a team.”
Taylor finished 9 of 18 for 56 yards and one interception, and also ran three times for 27 yards. In the definition of garbage time, Peterman went 7 of 10 for 79 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary.
"It's a milestone, for sure," Peterman said of his first career touchdown pass. "But ultimately it's a team game. We didn't get it done today. We've got to go back and get a lot better."
McDermott was impressed by what Peterman was able to accomplish in his limited action.
“I thought he did some good things,” the coach said. “Moved the offense there. Obviously, got us into the end zone, so that was a positive.”
McDermott, though, shot down any possibility of a quarterback change, saying simply: “Tyrod’s our starter.”
Even if it came when the game was out of reach, Peterman said his first taste of action in the regular season can be helpful.
“I always want to be ready,” he said. “I mean, that's my job, to be ready, to be the best player I can be and help the team as much as I can, so that's always my goal.”
Peterman described his development as a “constant, kind of gradual process.”
“Luckily I got some two-minute reps in practice with our development guys at the end of practice this week, so that was helpful,” he said. “Coach has done a great job of giving all the young guys development reps at the end of practice. Which I think has helped, and then just going against our defense every day on scout team I think helps to see how they move, what kind of coverages they're trying to disguise. It helps to have that kind of feel.”