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Plays that Shaped the Game: Valiant Bills' defense gets overshadowed

Nathan Peterman had a chance to rewrite the script of his brief career.

Not only didn’t he rewrite it, he added another dark chapter to his story.

Johnathan Joseph’s 28-yard interception return of a Peterman pass ruined a valiant effort by the Buffalo Bills’ defense in the loss to the Houston Texans.

The Bills’ defense had most of the big plays in the 20-13 decision, if not, of course, for Peterman’s decisive mistake.

Believe it or not, Peterman is not the most interception-prone Bills quarterback in regular season history – if you count players with at least 50 passes.

Peterman now has nine interceptions in 79 pass attempts, an INT rate of 11.39 percent.

Tom Flores threw nine interceptions in 74 pass attempts over a span of three seasons, from 1967 to 1969. That’s an INT rate of 12.2 percent. (If you count Peterman's playoff appearance, he has 10 INTs in 82 attempts.)

Flores lasted nine seasons in the American Football League and compiled a record as a starter of 31-33-4. Then he went onto win two Super Bowls as a head coach of the Raiders.

Who knows if Peterman has coaching in his future? But it’s a safe bet he’s not going to last as long as Flores did as a player.

Here’s a look at plays that shaped the game:

1. Pick-six. The Texans baited Peterman into the hitch pass to the left sideline. Joseph was cheating on the hitch all the way, because he expected blitzing safety Kareem Jackson to force a hurried throw.

Tight end Charles Clay was open for a quick pass up the right seam. Peterman could have hit him even if LeSean McCoy hadn’t picked up the blitzing Jackson. McCoy did get a decent block on Jackson. The Texans only rushed four men, dropping seven into coverage.

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2. Blocked punt. Pass and punt protection starts from the inside out. Tight end Logan Thomas did not block the man closest to his inside – Tyrell Adams – who charged up the middle to block Corey Bojorquez’s punt. The Texans recovered at the Buffalo 21 and turned it into a field goal.

The Texans overloaded the left of the Bills’ line, with five men to that side. The Bills had four to block, plus snapper Reid Ferguson in the middle. To Ferguson’s left were Lorenzo Alexander, Thomas, Matt Milano and Andre Holmes, in a fullback position behind the line.

Alexander blocked Buddy Howell, the only man he could have taken. With three Texans to their left, Thomas and Milano took the two outside rushers. Holmes stepped up to block the middle man, who got inside of Ferguson. Leaving Adams free was a blown assignment, probably on Thomas, although he might have thought Holmes was picking up Adams.

3. Milano coverage. The Bills forced the Texans to settle for a field goal that tied it, 13-13, when Milano batted away a Deshaun Watson pass for tight end Ryan Griffin at the goal line. It was great closing speed by Milano, who had to chase Griffin across the field. Give credit to Jerry Hughes, who blew by left tackle Julie’n Davenport for a near sack, forcing Watson to scramble to his left.

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4. Hyde alert. Just before Milano’s breakup, safety Micah Hyde defeated a block by Griffin and forced Keke Coutee to go backward after taking a shovel pass on a second-and-goal play from the 2.

5. Poyer tough. The Bills’ goal-line stand started when safety Jordan Poyer filled a hole off left tackle and stuffed Alfred Blue for a 1-yard loss. Hughes assisted.

6. End-zone INT. The Bills took advantage of Watson’s inexperience on the interception in the end zone by Poyer with 39 seconds left in the half. Trent Murphy beat guard Zach Fulton with a stunt inside. Watson spun out of Murphy’s arms, but Alexander chased Watson to the sideline to create the hurried throw.

7. Tip drill. Alexander intercepted a Watson pass early in the quarter by catching his own batted pass at the line. Alexander, Murphy Hughes and Kyle Williams all pushed the pocket into Watson’s face.

8. Strong man. Late in the third quarter, Murphy whipped right tackle Kendall Lamm with a massive shove to the left, sacked Watson for a 4-yard loss and knocked the ball loose. Harrison Phillips recovered to set up the Bills’ lone TD. Hughes bull-rushed Davenport into Watson’s lap and got credit for half a sack.

9. Zay makes a play. Zay Jones beat ex-Bill Shareece Wright on a stutter and go to the back pylon for a 16-yard TD. Nice route. Nice pass from Peterman. Too bad the Bills couldn’t have picked on Wright a lot more.

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