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Jay Skurski's 10 observations: LeSean McCoy's injury latest bad news for sputtering offense

Jay Skurski

INDIANAPOLIS – Things can always get worse with the Buffalo Bills.

Star running back LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion Sunday during the team’s embarrassing 37-5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It’s the latest blow to a beleaguered offense that is the worst in the NFL.

McCoy was hit along the Colts’ sideline by Indianapolis cornerback Kenny Moore II on Buffalo’s second offensive play. He stayed down on the field before being walked back to the Bills’ sideline, where he was examined in the medical tent. From there, McCoy was slowly walked back to the locker room by trainers, without his helmet. A short time later, he was announced as having a head injury. The Bills officially ruled him out for the remainder of the game with 10:54 remaining in the second quarter.

Coach Sean McDermott confirmed after the game that McCoy is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. The running back’s two carries produced just 1 yard. That brings his season total to 63 carries for 243 yards. McCoy does not have a touchdown rushing or receiving through the first seven weeks. He’s missed nearly two full games, with Sunday joining the Week 3 win over Minnesota.

McCoy was replaced by Chris Ivory, who rushed 16 times for 81 yards before he got hurt in the third quarter. Ivory was replaced by Marcus Murphy, who had been a healthy inactive the past couple weeks. Ivory, though, was able to return to the field on the Bills’ next possession.

“LeSean is a good football player. So, it wasn’t ideal, but I thought Chris Ivory stepped in and Marcus Murphy did a good job," McDermott said.

2. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll moved down from the coaching booth to the field Sunday for the first time this season. With veteran quarterback Derek Anderson making his first start, Sean McDermott said that factored into Daboll’s decision.

“A little bit of that,” the coach said. “A little bit from a leadership standpoint, being able to look guys in the eye and communicate with the quarterback position.”

The Bills were held scoreless in the first half, falling behind 24-0. That’s been a trend lately. In the first half of the last four games, the Bills have a total of seven points. Buffalo has been held scoreless in the first half in four of seven games this year.

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3. Perhaps it’s not a surprise, but frustration started to set in for the Bills in the second quarter. Defensive end Jerry Hughes was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the Colts kicked an extra point in the second quarter. Hughes was upset that a penalty wasn’t called on Colts guard Quenton Nelson on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to Marlon Mack.

“I was upset because the guard did what he was supposed to do. I was rushing, he hit me, but for him to jump on me is a little bit excessive,” he said. “They were supposed to make that a point of emphasis. Someone 350 pounds jumping on you while you're on the ground, I can break a rib. So if the referee's not going to hold that man accountable, then I'm going to be upset.”

Hughes has a reputation for having a hot temper, but had avoided any unsportsmanlike penalties in the first six games of the year.

“That's part of football, honest to God,” Hughes said. “I mean, you guys put so much emphasis on a penalty in the game that was clearly out of our hands. We didn't play great football. I didn't tackle. I didn't make any plays. Didn't get a sack, didn't force a fumble, didn't do anything, and it shows. A penalty, we can sit here and talk about a penalty, but my lackluster performance was horrible.

“If our team is going to win games, I understand I've got to get out there and make plays. The defense understands we've got to make plays. We understand that. We didn't play well, and it stinks.”

On the first play of the ensuing possession, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct after he shoved Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson in the face mask after the play.

4. Speaking of Benjamin, a pregame report from ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the Dallas Cowboys are “monitoring” Benjamin ahead of the Oct. 30 trade deadline. Raiders receiver Amari Cooper and Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker are also on the Cowboys’ radar, according to the report.

It’s tough to see how Benjamin would have much trade value at this point. He entered Sunday’s game with 10 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown this season, although he did set season highs with four catches for 71 yards against the Colts. That’s the most receiving yardage Benjamin has had in a single game since the Bills acquired him nearly a year ago. Benjamin did not talk with reporters after the loss.

5. On the rare occasion the defense had a chance to make a play Sunday, it couldn’t come through. An errant snap sailed through Luck’s hands into the end zone late in the third quarter. Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander looked like he had a line on the ball and would be able to fall on it for a touchdown. Instead, he missed and the ball squirted out of bounds, resulting in a safety.

“It's a scrum. He's running for it, I'm running for it,” Alexander said. “If I had to do it again, I might have tried to hit him and then get it, but it happened all in the blink of an eye. So I was just trying to jump, and as I jumped I made some contact with him and it was just out of my reach as far as getting it. I mean, a safety, touchdown, it's all positive. After that we've got to try to use that momentum. We weren't able to capitalize on it.”

It was the first safety recorded by the Bills since Nov. 8, 2015, when Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill lost a fumble out of bounds in the Miami end zone.

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6. Defensive end Trent Murphy limped off the field with 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter after he was hurt on a 5-yard rush by Mack. Murphy was announced as doubtful to return, and never did come back into the game. He was replaced by Shaq Lawson.

McDermott said he had not yet met with the team’s trainers, so he did not have any update after the game.

7. Here’s a statistical oddity: Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, a future Hall of Famer, entered the game just 32 of 53 on field goals against the Bills in his 23-year career. Vinatieri, 45, came into the game needing just 10 points to break Morten Anderson’s NFL record of 2,544 points scored. The Colts’ veteran had another tough outing against the Bills, though, missing two extra points and banking in a 36-yard field goal to end the first half. Vinatieri is now five points shy of the NFL record.

Bills-Colts Report Card: Another failure for the passing game

8. With rookie receiver Ray-Ray McCloud out of the lineup because of a noninjury issue, Cam Phillips made his pro debut for the Bills. Phillips, an undrafted rookie receiver out of Virginia Tech, joined the 53-man roster last week, replacing fellow rookie receiver Robert Foster, who was then signed to the practice squad. Phillips was not targeted in the passing game in his debut. With McCloud out, Murphy handled punt returns.

Rookie quarterback Josh Allen (elbow) and running back Taiwan Jones (neck) were the Bills’ injured inactives.

9. The Bills’ other inactives Sunday. Cornerback Ryan Lewis, offensive tackle Conor McDermott and guards Wyatt Teller and Ike Boettger. McDermott has appeared in just one game this season, while Teller and Boettger have yet to dress.

10. The Bills had five illegal formation penalties coming into the game. They added a sixth in the second quarter on a Colts extra point.

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