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Jason Wolf: Peterman's historically terrible play still haunts Bills

HOUSTON – Nathan Peterman is Exhibit A in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case.

No, make that “Pickerman.”

And why not use it as a verb?

The jabs on social media came rapid fire after Peterman’s two interceptions in the final 90 seconds, including one returned for the go-ahead touchdown, resulted in the Buffalo Bills “petermanning” a potential victory against the Houston Texans into a 20-13 defeat Sunday at NRG Stadium.

But I’m not here to pile on. I don’t want to make fun of the guy, who stepped in for an injured Josh Allen late in the third quarter and helped rally the Bills to a fourth-quarter lead before what seemed like his inevitable meltdown.

It’s not Peterman’s fault that Bills coach Sean McDermott keeps putting him in position to be a national punchline and costing the team chances to win games.

It’s not Peterman’s fault that McDermott determined he was the best quarterback on the roster during the preseason, and named him the Week 1 starter for that humiliating blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

And it’s not his fault he’s still here.

Peterman keeps showing up – which is more than you can say about Vontae Davis – because no one in a position of authority has told him to stop.

"I love this game," Peterman said. "You know, I put everything I have into this game. Prepare as hard as I can every week. But at the end of the day, I know my true identity lies in Christ. I'm thankful to be here, and just trying to get better every day."

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That's fair enough. But there’s no getting around the fact that his horrific play has directly led to two of the Bills’ four losses this season, and he hasn’t even played a full game, completing 11 of 30 pass attempts for 85 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions in just more than three quarters of action.

Peterman has thrown nine interceptions in 79 career pass attempts during the regular season since being drafted in the fifth round in 2017 – meaning an absurd 11.39 percent of his passes have been turnovers. That doesn't count the interception that he threw among his three passes against Jacksonville in the wild-card game last season.

The ineptitude is borderline historic.

There is just one player in NFL history who has thrown at least as many passes as Peterman and owns a higher interception rate, according to Pro Football Reference:

Wayne Clark, who had 14 picks in 120 career pass attempts – good for 11.67 percent – with the Chargers, Bengals and Chiefs from 1970-75. He started five of 40 career games.

The worst interception rate in NFL history among bona fide professional quarterbacks, according to a database that includes 185 qualified players – guys who lasted in the league long enough to throw a minimum of 1,500 passes – is 7.9 percent, a mark shared by Bob Waterfield (from 1945-52) and Eddie LeBaron (1952-63).

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It’s up to McDermott and/or general manager Brandon Beane to determine and inform Peterman that he doesn’t belong on an NFL roster.

And there’s no guarantee they will, even after this, because that’s the corner the Bills have painted themselves into by failing to adequately address the quarterback position in offseason.

It appears to have been the right decision to move on from Tyrod Taylor, who’s already been replaced as the starter in Cleveland.

And I’m not going to drag the Bills for trading AJ McCarron for a fifth-round pick, although there’s no way he’d have been worse than this. He’s only started three games in four seasons, anyway, and didn’t do anything to impress during the preseason and was hampered by an injury.

But there’s no good reason why they didn’t roster a capable, veteran quarterback until signing Derek Anderson last week, either to start or serve as Allen’s backup.

Naming Peterman the Week 1 starter has proved to be a farce, and the Bills compounded the error by having to trot him out there again.

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Now, it’s entirely possible they need to keep him around, despite signing Anderson, who was inactive this week, should Allen’s injury cause him to miss time.

The Bills will need someone to back up Anderson on Sunday at Indianapolis.

McDermott wouldn’t commit to a week being enough time to get Anderson prepared to play. But there’s no way they can start Peterman.

Right?

“We’ll see,” McDermott said. “Derek, as you know, just came this week. We’re going to look at the film and see where we are and also see where Josh is and go from there.”

Kelvin Benjamin, who had a team-high 43 receiving yards on two catches against the Texans, wouldn’t say whether he’d be comfortable with Peterman as the starter.

“That’s not my job to pronounce the next quarterback,” Benjamin said, “but whoever it might be, we’re going to get in and work and we’re going to get the rhythm down and we’re going to get the timing down and we’re going to keep working.”

This could have been a story about redemption.

Peterman replaced Allen with the Texans leading 10-3 late in the third quarter Sunday and helped guide the Bills to 10 points and the lead before throwing the game away.

He picked up six yards on his second pass attempt, setting up Stephen Hauschka for a 52-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 10-6.

And on the next drive, he took advantage of tremendous field position after the defense forced its third turnover of the game, tossing the go-ahead touchdown to Zay Jones in the back right corner of the end zone.

He also helped flip field position on the ensuing drive by converting third-and-15 with an excellent throw to Andre Holmes.

“Nate’s resilient,” Jones said. “Me, personally, I’m not worried about Nate. I know the way that he prepares and the way he goes about his business. I’m proud of that guy. I know a lot has been thrown at him. I know a lot of negativity is talked about him. The guy’s a fighter, he’s a warrior and he inspires me personally to go hard every day.”

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That’s also fair enough.

It’s worth remembering that this loss is not solely on Peterman, because failure to execute was a theme, whether we’re talking about tight end Jason Croom’s illegal formation penalty wiping out a big gain or miscues on special teams costing the Bills 10 points in a game they lost by seven.

But the late interceptions were back breakers.

“We’ve got to have more respect for the football,” McDermott said.

The score was tied when Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph stepped in front of a Peterman pass intended for Benjamin and raced 28 yards to the end zone with 90 seconds to play.

And given one last chance to make something happen, Peterman, running to his right, threw the ball against his body into the middle of the field, where safety Kareem Jackson sealed the Bills’ loss and humiliation.

Where have we see that before?

Allen’s inexcusable end zone interception in Green Bay.

And earlier in this game, when Allen completed an impressive but similarly ill-advised pass to Charles Clay.

More concerning than the mistakes themselves is the apparent failure to learn from and correct them.

That goes for the front office, as well.

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