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Taylor back as starter after 'interesting set of days'

Tyrod Taylor couldn't ignore the obvious.

He was the focal point of a strange decision a week ago that took a predictable, though no less awkward, turn Wednesday. And he summed it up perfectly.

"It's been an interesting set of days," Taylor said.

Twenty-four hours earlier he learned he would be the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. With rookie Nathan Peterman demonstrating he wasn't the least bit ready for his first NFL start in Sunday's 54-24 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach Sean McDermott was back to believing that it was Taylor who actually made the Bills a better team all along.

"But it's the National Football League," Taylor said. "You've got to be prepared for anything. And focus-wise, you can't let things hurt your focus.

"You never let things surprise you. My focus has still been the same. I'm going to continue to be the leader that I am, the player that I am, week in and week out. More important, as a team, we've got to fix what we haven't done right the last three weeks and just get back on the winning side of the scoreboard."

For Taylor, keeping himself from being distracted by the events of the past week figures to be asking quite a bit.

The Bills were 5-4 and very much in the playoff picture when Sean McDermott decided to pull the plug on Taylor. They had been pummeled by the New Orleans Saints, and while Taylor had abysmal numbers, his performance had far less to do with the outcome than a Bills defense that provided all of the resistance of tissue paper against the Saints' run game.

Still, Peterman got the call to face the Chargers. After throwing five interceptions in the first half, including three (and a pick-six) in the first quarter, McDermott came to his senses. Taylor played the second half in LA, but the game was already well out of reach when he took over.

McDermott said Peterman took the decision like "a pro, just like you would expect." The coach acknowledged that avoiding the possibility of putting Peterman through another nightmarish experience, and causing more damage to his psyche, factored into the decision to go back to Taylor.

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"That's all part of the process," McDermott said. "At some point, rookies have to play and you're seeing that from our team. You're seeing that with a number of young players playing. We're the tops in the league, in fact, at that. That's how you get better, is you play young players, you develop and they get experience.

"That's how you develop the future of an organization, that's how you develop sustained success, that's how you develop a foundation is continue to develop players."

What does Peterman see as the next step in his development?

"Just get better from it," he said. "Learn from it, see the things I did wrong, take a hard look at myself on what I can do better next time."

At 5-5, the Bills still have plenty to play for with a wild-card spot in the wide-open AFC still very much up for grabs. That, according to coach Sean McDermott, factored into the thinking to switch back to Taylor, even though a week ago the coach spoke in terms of Peterman's promotion being in line with a longer-term vision.

A three-game losing streak, during which the team has steadily regressed to historically bad levels, seems to have convinced McDermott that putting greater effort into a playoff run might not be such a bad idea after all.

"Well, I think a large part of it is understanding big picture," McDermott said. "When you look around the league, there’s a lot of teams in the hunt. We’re in the hunt. You sit here and you say, ‘Hey, Thanksgiving, close to the end of November, we’re in the hunt.' When you sit around that table tomorrow, we’re saying ‘We’re in the hunt.'

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"There’s a lot of teams that wish they were in the hunt. We’re in the hunt. It’s what you do with it, it’s how we continue to grow and get better and develop. That’s really what I’m looking for us to do, is continue to get better every week, every practice, every rep and embrace that mindset."

At least for one week. That's what Taylor said he was told was the extent of the commitment to his being a starter.

"And that's how I've been handling my business," he said. "Doing whatever it takes, pouring all my time and energy into preparation and getting everyone on the same page so that we can go out and get a win this week."

Any hard feelings Taylor might harbor about the temporary benching and its impact on his future with the Bills beyond this season (and NFL sources say there are plenty), he's doing his best to push them aside – at least for as long as the Bills continue their pursuit of a postseason berth.

"Put it behind me, learn from it, visit it maybe sometime down the line," Taylor said. "But right now it's about the Chiefs and whatever it takes to finally win week in and week out. This team is very capable of making the playoffs. We have a whole bunch of talent. So we have to do whatever it takes to fix things that we haven't been doing so well and get back on the right track.

"We have a great opportunity in front of us. As a team, this is a big opportunity for us to go on the road, against a very good team, and go out there and perform well."

In Taylor's last start, against the Saints, he threw for only 56 yards and had a career-low passer rating of 33.6. In the second half against the Chargers, he threw for a touchdown and ran for another, but also lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

The Bills' offense ranks 27th in the NFL, dragged down mainly by their 30th ranked passing attack.

"I'm always trying to evolve as a player as far as me examining my game," Taylor said. "I'm always trying to find ways to get better, and there are ways that I can get better and I'm attacking those each and every day."

Will he be playing with any added pressure because Peterman already supplanted him once?

"I never play looking over my shoulder," Taylor said. "I didn't in the past and I won't in the future. I'm focused on what I can do as a player getting better and leading this team."

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