Sully: Given Peterman's Limitations, Bills would have been Wise to Play for OT

JerrySullivan

Column as I see ‘em, Week 6:

So much was made of Nathan Peterman’s fateful pick-six against the Texans on Sunday, and the Bills’ quarterback prospects moving forward, that no one bothered to question why they weren’t more conservative on the offensive series after Houston tied the game, 13-all.

There was 1:34 left in the fourth quarter when the Bills took over at their own 25-yard line after a touchback. They were out of timeouts. Considering the offense’s persistent struggles this season, and the obvious limitations of Nathan Peterman at quarterback, it was hard to imagine them driving quickly into range for a potential game-winning field goal.

At the time, I felt they should play conservatively and take their chances in overtime. Maybe run LeSean McCoy, or throw a safe short pass. But don’t drop Peterman back and risk him throwing a pass that might be intercepted deep in Buffalo territory.

Instead, Peterman threw an errant pass left for Kelvin Benjamin that fell incomplete on first down. It took 11 seconds. Next, Peterman thought he saw the Texans showing pressure and checked into another throw to Benjamin near the left sideline. Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph read the play all the way, picked off Peterman’s weak throw in stride and ran it back for a 28-yard touchdown.

Even if the pass had fallen incomplete, it would have been third-and-10, with about 1:15 left. The Bills probably would have run the ball on third-and-10. The Texans had two timeouts left. So they likely would have gotten the ball back around their own 35 with a minute to go.

Bills coach Sean McDermott gave a convoluted explanation of the fateful interception, saying Peterman needed to “respect the football” and not force the ball in those situations. He said you need “chunks” rather than shallow throws with no timeouts.

Was he suggesting that Peterman should have thrown the ball down the field? Who knows what he was thinking?

The Bills have not scored a TD on a possession that began their own territory since the second quarter of the Vikings game. They went 22 straight such possessions at one point without any score. What were the chances of them doing it with no timeouts and Peterman at quarterback?

They should have played for OT and given their defense one more chance to make a game-changing play under favorable circumstances. They had seven sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. Given a chance in OT, the defense might well have stuffed the Texans and given the offense a more realistic opportunity to win the game.

McDermott hasn’t demonstrated a keen grasp of quarterback play. His obsession with Peterman has blown up in his face three times. But either he, or Brian Daboll, should have had the presence of mind to limit Peterman’s chance to blow it Sunday in Houston.

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The Bills wasted another extraordinary game by the defense, which held the Texans to 216 total yards — 200 below their average — and limited Deshaun Watson to 177 yards passing, the fewest he’s had since Game 2 of his rookie year last season.

Over the last two weeks, the Bills have held the opposition to 221 (Titans) and 216 total yards. That’s the first time they’ve held teams under 225 in successive games since the 2004 team did it in three straight. The Buffalo offense has gone for 223 and 229 yards in the last two games, the first time they’ve done that since the opening two games of the 2010 season under Chan Gailey.

Who would have thought the Bills’ defense would be this good after the first two games, when they allowed 78 points and were near the bottom of the league in several key statistical categories?

They’re now tied for second in yards per play (4.9), third in yards per pass against (5.7), tied for sixth in takeaways (12), sixth in yards per rush (3.8) and 10th in total defense (311.7 ypg).

Three of their opponents —Texans, Vikings and yes, Chargers — had their fewest yards in a game against the Bills. The Ravens and Titans had their second-fewest (the Titans followed that 221-yard effort against the Bills with 106 vs. the Ravens on Sunday.)

No defense in the NFL is playing better than the Bills over the last four games. It’s hard to say how good they’d be if they had an average offense to go with it. A real playoff contender, no doubt.

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Chiefs linebacker Breeland Speaks had Tom Brady in his arms for an apparent sack Sunday night. But Speaks let go of the Patriots quarterback, who took advantage of the gift by running for a 4-yard touchdown that gave the Pats a 37-33 lead.

Speaks explained that he thought Brady had released a pass, so he let up out of fear of being called for roughing the passer. The NFL’s increasing emphasis on the rule, along with a rash of early-season calls, has defensive players running scared these days.

“It was definitely on my mind. It sucks,” Speaks told NFL Network after the Chiefs lost in New England, 43-40.

Jerry Hughes can empathize. The Bills’ defensive end let Marcus Mariota go in a similar fashion in Week 5 against the Titans. Hughes later said that the crackdown on roughing the passer was definitely on his mind.

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Is he owned? This week’s featured fantasy find is Browns rookie wide receiver Damion Ratley, who had six catches for 82 yards in Cleveland’s 38-14 home loss to the Chargers.

Ratley, a product of Texas A&M, had played only one offensive snap before Sunday. But injuries to Browns receivers thrust him into action. The chemistry he built with Baker Mayfield on the second team came in handy in his first NFL start.

Ratley caught just 47 passes over three years with the Aggies, but he had the combination of size, speed and athleticism that intrigues the pro scouts. He reportedly ran a 4.45 40-yard dash on his pro day. Not surprisingly, he’s available in all three of my leagues.

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The Falcons, a chic pick by some to be the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl, held off Tampa Bay, 34-29, despite allowing 518 yards to the Bucs. Atlanta is now 2-4 in the NFC South.

I wouldn’t write them off, not with Matt Ryan at quarterback. Ryan is having a year reminiscent of his MVP season of 2016. He’s second in the league in passing yards with 1,955, fourth in TD passes (14) and passer rating (113.6) and fifth in completion percentage at 69.6.

Two years ago, Ryan finished second in yards, second in TD passes and third in completion percentage. He led the NFL in passer rating at 117.1. The Falcons should be in good shape a month from now. Their next four games are against the Giants, Redskins, Browns and Cowboys.

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Stats Incredible: The Pats’ victory over the Chiefs was the 200th regular-season win of Tom Brady’s career, an NFL record … New England is now 56-2 in its last 58 AFC home games with Brady. One of the losses was a meaningless finale against the Bills in 2014. The other was the season opener last year against K.C. … More Pats — They had no punts or penalties Sunday night, the first time that occurred in NFL history … Todd Gurley rushed for 208 yards at Denver, becoming the first Ram to rush for 200 in a game since Marshall Faulk in 2001 … Jason Myers set a Jets record with seven field goals in a 42-34 win over the Colts. Rob Bironas set the NFL record of eight with Tennessee in 2007.

Comments (3)
No. 1-1
Flinch
Flinch

McDermott is too smart for himself. He is gonna wish he wasn’t the bills coach


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