This might have been the best performance of Nathan Peterman’s career.
Peterman finished a game he started for the first time in the Buffalo Bills’ 41-9 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at New Era Field.
He threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. But he did so while completing 31 of 49 pass attempts for 189 yards, all career highs. His passer rating was 45.4.
Peterman also found the end zone, plunging in from the 1-yard line on a QB keeper late in the fourth quarter, the Bills’ first touchdown in three weeks and 38 offensive possessions, since he tossed a score to Zay Jones in mop-up duty during an Oct. 14 loss at Houston.
“I don’t feel snakebit,” Peterman said. “I never feel like I’m a victim or anything like that, you know? It’s football. It’s life. Things don’t always bounce your way. … You just have to be able to take it how it comes, learn from it and keep fighting forward, and I think we showed a lot of fight out there today, and that’s what I’m proud of, really for our whole offense.”
Is this as good as it gets?
Must Bills fans squint to search for whatever might be considered positives in yet another blowout loss, the team’s fourth consecutive defeat and seventh in nine games?
Is Peterman an NFL quarterback?
“I believe he is,” Bills coach Sean McDermott.
McDermott had no choice but to start Peterman on Sunday, with rookie first-round pick Josh Allen still sidelined by an elbow injury, veteran Derek Anderson out with a concussion and journeyman Matt Barkley joining the team just days earlier.
And Peterman, a fifth-round pick a year ago and the team’s opening day starter, performed about as well as could be expected, considering his prior disastrous outings.
The performance actually lowered his career turnover ratio, since he entered the game with 10 picks in 84 pass attempts, including playoffs.
“I definitely feel like I’m improving,” Peterman said, “and I’ve got to keep doing that.”
The Bears scored 28 points in the second quarter, two touchdowns directly off turnovers and two aided by short fields thanks to poor special teams play.
“There was definitely that stretch in the second quarter where everything was kind of going wrong for us,” Peterman said. “That’s really where you’ve got to dig down deep as an individual, as a team, and find out what you’re made of and be able to turn the momentum.”
But the Bills drowned in their mistakes.
Eddie Jackson returned tight end Jason Croom’s fumble 65 yards for a touchdown, Leonard Floyd returned an interception 19 yards for a score and the Bears began scoring drives on the Bills’ 37- and 23-yard lines, respectively, as their lead quickly ballooned.
“You can’t turn the ball over. You can’t give them field position. We did both of those,” McDermott said, a familiar refrain. “The two things we said we couldn’t do, we did that today.”
Peterman’s first interception was bobbled by wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who signed with the team in the middle of last week.
His second pick, the one returned by Floyd, came on a late pass that was behind Jones.
And his third pick came on an underthrown pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin.
"Actually, I'm proud of Nate," Pryor said. "I thought he did a good job. I think he managed it and he hit the guys that were open."
Peterman said he and the offense took some solace in scoring a late touchdown, even though it had no bearing on the outcome.
“You want to win every game you’re out there,” Peterman said. “You want to complete every pass. It’s never easy, but it doesn’t mean you should ever stop trying. That’s always what I’ve been about is fighting to the end, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”