BUFFALO BILLS-INDIANAPOLIS COLTS QUARTERLY REPORT
Theme: Slow start. LeSean McCoy was injured on the Buffalo Bills’ second play from scrimmage and both teams punted twice.
Quick snap foiled: The Bills forced a punt on Indy’s opening drive when Andrew Luck was stuffed on a quick-snap quarterback keeper on third-and-1 play from the Colts’ 34. The Bills’ defensive tackles both lined up wide, on the outside shoulder of the guards. That baited Luck into a keeper. But the DTs shifted inside just before the snap.
Slip-up: Marcus Murphy took over for inactive Ray-Ray McCloud at punt returner. Murphy slipped and fell on the Colts’ first punt. Instead of taking over on a fair catch at the 41, the ball was downed at the Bills’ 23.
Fourth down: Frank Reich is a modern thinker on fourth-and-short situations, willing to go for it. The Colts went for it seven times the first six games, including an overtime failure that led to a loss against Houston. He was criticized for it. Late in the first quarter on fourth and 1 from their own 47, the Colts ran for 10 yards to keep their opening TD drive going.
Theme: Total domination by the Colts.
Matchup watch: The Colts’ third-down offense was too good for the Bills. Indy entered the game No. 1 in the NFL, converting 49.4 percent of third downs. Luck’s efficiency is the reason. The Colts converted four third downs in the first half and finished the game 7 of 13 (54 percent). Buffalo entered the game ranked 21st in third-down defense.
Elite QB play: Luck kept the play alive and threw a perfect strike on the Colts’ third TD, which broke the game open. The strike went to T.Y. Hilton for 5 yards to give the Colts a 21-0 lead.
Lull before half: The Bills have scored one second-quarter TD in the first seven games.
Quick snap: Luck caught the Bills’ defensive line not quite ready by quick-snapping on the two-point conversion run.
Second guess: Jerry Hughes got pulled down by left tackle Anthony Costanzo on the TD pass to Hilton. It could have been called a penalty but both players lost their balance, which may have made the call look gray to the official. Castonzo did a solid job on Hughes all day.
Theme: Too bad the first quarter didn’t play out this way. The Bills finally got their ground game going and got a defensive stop.
Matchup watch: Colts defensive linemen Margus Hunt and Jabaal Sheard vs. Bills’ offensive line. The Colts have two stout, veteran linemen in the 6-foot-8 Hunt and Sheard, a run-stopping, 265-pound defensive end. Hunt finished with just one tackle and Sheard two. But they made things hard on the Bills’ front five. Sheard had a coverage sack to force a field goal on the Bills’ first drive of the quarter. Hunt had a run-stuff to force a punt on the second.
Good sack: Derek Anderson ran out of bounds for a 7-yard sack and the Bills settled for a field goal. He might have thrown it away but nobody was open on the play.
Last safety: The Bills’ last safety was in a 33-17 home win vs. Miami in November 2015 when Ryan Tannehill fumbled out of bounds in the end zone. What if Lorenzo Alexander had fallen on the ball for a touchdown to pull the Bills within 24-10? It wouldn’t have made much difference.
Theme: A blowout unlike any other. It was the first-ever 37-5 result and the 1,044th unique score in NFL history, according to the website NFL Scorigami.
Playmaker of game: Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard piled up 17 tackles. Leonard was the No. 36 overall pick out of South Carolina State. He gave the Colts a desperately needed three-down sideline-to-sideline playmaker. He entered the game ranked No. 2 in the NFL in tackles.
A Buffalo jinx: Adam Vinatieri arguably is the greatest place-kicker ever. He missed two extra points in the game. Vinatieri is an 84.3 percent field-goal kicker for his career. Yet he has made only 61 percent of his kicks against the Bills. He’s only 50 percent (11 of 22) at the stadium in Orchard Park.
QB records: Anderson is 20-28 as an NFL starter. He has lost nine of his last 11. Luck is 45-32.
Rushing TD: Marlon Mack’s 20-yard TD run was just the Colts’ second rushing TD of the season.
Second guess: We could make this a weekly closing line, but why again did the Bills trade AJ McCarron?