Armchair Buffalo Bills fans were aggravated by more than their team’s play in a 37-5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
They also were furious by the poor sound coming out of their television sets.
You couldn’t hear any crowd noise or game official Brad Allen for most of the game, leading to a TV mystery: Whose fault was it? CBS? CBS affiliate WIVB (Channel 4)? Spectrum Cable? DirecTV?
WGR radio reported that the crowd was the smallest of the year for the Colts at around 57,000, but it didn’t sound like anyone was in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
It turned out to be a Channel 4 issue and not one with CBS.
Although it can’t be attributed to anyone at Channel 4 yet, I’m told it was a technical problem at the station’s end. It was explained that it was a problem with something called the EAS Keyer that was overriding one of the audio channels.
The good news is that once again CBS play-by-play man Spero Dedes and analyst Adam Archuleta sounded good in commenting on the game. They were just as sharp as they were two weeks ago calling the Bills' 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Dedes was suitably excited when there were big plays, and he engaged in some decent garbage-time discussion with Archuleta as the game got out of hand.
Archuleta confirmed my earlier diagnosis in the Titans game as his being the most underrated analyst on CBS’ roster. The former NFL safety sees things like a quarterback. Unlike many announcers, he frequently identifies players who make mistakes, which made him a very busy man Sunday when dealing with the Bills defense.
Sure, he occasionally says some obvious things and some head-shaking things. But what analyst doesn’t? He has a good sense of the big picture and also a good sense of humor.
In short, I used to want to cover my ears when Dedes worked with analyst Solomon Wilcots. But I actually look forward to hearing him call games with Archuleta.
And with the Bills 2-5 going into a Monday night game against the New England Patriots, I imagine Bills fans may hear them a few more times in the second half of the season.
Now it is time for some highs and lows of Sunday’s game:
Anyone’s Guess: Before the game started, Dedes said “it was anyone’s guess” how Bills veteran quarterback Derek Anderson would play after getting a crash course on the team’s offense. Generally, the announcers were kind to Anderson, who started well statistically and finished 20 of 31 for 175 yards, three interceptions and a lost fumble.
At halftime, Archuleta said Anderson played “exactly what I thought, maybe a little better.” By game’s end, he noted that Anderson threw three terrible passes.
Trending: When Colts coach Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth down near midfield early in the game, Archuleta applauded the decision and Dedes noted it was a league-wide trend to do so. Not so much in Buffalo. Reich's decision also could have been taken as an insult to both the Bills defense and offense. The Colts made the first down.
A Head-shaking Moment: Looking at the replay of LeSean McCoy’s injury the third or fourth time, I was surprised I didn’t notice he suffered a head injury before it was announced. But neither did the announcers, who thought it was a leg issue.
A few minutes later, Archuleta might have surprised Bills fans when he said he didn’t think McCoy’s injury would affect the Bills' running game too much because Chris Ivory was more than capable of carrying the ball 20-25 times.
Archuleta said it more likely would affect the passing game because McCoy would be the focus of Anderson’s checkdowns. Ivory ran well and the Bills did finish with 135 yards rushing.
Statistic of the Game: Archuleta said he isn’t a statistic guy, but he was “astounded” to learn that the Bills had caught only 75 percent of catchable balls in the first six games.
Understatement of the Game: Earlier, Archuleta said of the McCoy injury: “Not ideal for the Bills.”
Adam Sounds Off: Archuleta wouldn’t be a lot of fun at a film session. He noted that Bills rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds mistakenly thought he was free to rush the passer when he had responsibility for a back who caught a short pass and ran for a first down. He said Edmunds needs to be more aware in zone coverage.
He called out linebacker Matt Milano for apparently dropping coverage on Marlon Mack on a 29-yard touchdown pass and for being blocked on a long run by Mack. “There is no way a center should be able to get out there and block Milano,” said Archuleta.
And he criticized cornerback Dontae Johnson for being caught inside on a run to the outside that led to the Colts’ final touchdown. He noted that Eddie Yarbrough got sucked in on a long run by the Colts. And he criticized Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin for “a killer mistake” - taking a personal foul penalty after the official missed the Colt who hit him first.
A Nice Moment: CBS camera caught Jim Kelly interacting with Colts fans during a halftime ceremony that was part of the NFL effort to combat cancer.
Who is Counting? Unofficially, I think there were more unnecessary sideline shots of Bills coach Sean McDermott than there were of Colts coach Frank Reich, Kelly’s former backup quarterback. CBS finally focused on Reich near game’s end, noting that former Bills coach and general manager Bill Polian knew early in Reich’s career that he would be a coach. On Sunday, he was clearly a better one than McDermott.
Timely Crawl: As the announcers discussed the Bills' sorry quarterback situation, CBS ran a crawl noting that the New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold was 8 of 22 for 86 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He finished 17 for 42 for 206 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions in a 37-17 loss to a Vikings team that the Bills and rookie quarterback Josh Allen beat.
Archuleta advocated playing Allen after he recovers from his elbow injury but added: “He is an extremely raw product that needs a lot of work.”
Point, Counterpoint: Archuleta said he was “surprised” that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck went out of bounds on the 1-yard line rather than dive for a touchdown and risk injury. Dedes responded: “If I am a Colts fan I don’t have a problem with Luck going out of bounds.” Hard to argue with Dedes on this one.
Luck, who missed almost two full seasons with a shoulder injury, hit T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown on the next play.
And if Jim Kelly Could Still Play QB, the Bills Might Be Good: With the Colts in control, Archuleta said: “If it wasn’t for the turnovers we might have a tighter ballgame right now.” You could say that about every game.
He Has Luck’s Back: During garbage time, Dedes noted that Luck said of offensive lineman Quenton Nelson: “He has the broadest back of any man I’ve ever seen.” Archuleta added “he is the kind of guy” who eats his steak medium rare. “Do you know what I mean?" he added. Not really.
Great Expectations: Archuleta didn’t blame Anderson for his first interception in the final minute of the first half on a pass intended for Benjamin. “He had to expect his receiver to beat the safety to the reception point,” said Archuleta. If Anderson had been around all season he might have known not to expect that much from Benjamin.
Snappy Remark: Archuleta noted that Luck didn’t expect a snap on the play that led to a Bills safety and noted that his linemen didn’t move, either. That suggested the center missed the snap count, he said.
He Got a Kick Out of It: CBS showed a clip of kicker Adam Vinatieri in his younger days chasing down an older Herschel Walker as the famed running back was headed toward the end zone.
Did You Leave? Reich taught Bills fans in the 1993 playoff game against Houston that no first-half deficit can’t be overcome. But it is doubtful even the staunchest Bills fans thought even the old Reich and his receivers could have led a second-half Bills comeback victory Sunday with today’s offense.
Best Linebacker Line: After taking advantage of Edmunds and Milano on separate plays, Archuleta assessed: The Colts “are confusing (the Bills) linebackers and letting people go and Luck is able to find them.”
Feeling Groovy: On another Colts drive, Archuleta said: “Right now Frank Reich and Andrew Luck are in a groove and reading this defense absolutely perfectly.”
The Line Up: Archuleta didn’t think Kyle Williams lined up illegally on an extra point, which led to a penalty call that ended up with Reich deciding to go for a two-point conversion that succeeded to take a 14-0 lead. On the same play, Jerry Hughes was called for a 15-yard penalty, which was tacked on the ensuing kickoff.
Taking a Shot: In a Tony Romo moment, Archuleta predicted Luck would take a shot with the Colts inside the Bills’ 20-yard line right before the Colts quarterback threw his first touchdown pass to Erik Swoope.
Let It Snow, Let It Snow: CBS ran a fun shot of referee Brad Allen overwhelmed by snow in last year’s Colts-Bills game alongside one of him Sunday being played in ideal conditions in a dome.
Amazing Comment: Archuleta frequently noted how the Colts ground game was helping Luck, at one point noting it is amazing what a good first-down run does. But he said it after a second down run.
Better Call Phil: After studio analyst voiced over a highlight of another game, he tossed it back to Dedes and Archuleta by saying “the rust is definitely off of Andrew Luck.” “Anybody tell Phil he only has 156 yards passing?” responded Archuleta with a laugh. Luck also threw for four touchdowns.
Mind-reader: As the Colts scored their final rushing touchdown, Archuleta cracked: “Lorenzo Alexander is looking around like, ‘how does this keep happening?’” Bills fans were who were still watching undoubtedly were thinking the same thing.