Buffalo Bills escape Colts despite more coaching blunders

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Deonte Thompson
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Deonte Thompson /

Bills keep playoff hopes alive after victory over Colts

Sunday’s snow bowl between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts gained national attention as the incessant storm could not have been a more stereotypical portrayal of a winter day in Western New York. Despite precipitation levels reaching 8 inches on the playing surface, the Bills were able to escape with a 13-7 victory over the Colts to improve to 7-6 overall thereby keeping the dim glimmer of hope for a playoff berth alive.

Both teams’ offenses were significantly slowed by the weather as they combined for just 546 total yards from scrimmage through roughly four and two-thirds of a quarter.

Nathan Peterman, who later left the game with a concussion, connected with Kelvin Benjamin for an 8-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

The bigger story was with LeSean McCoy who was responsible for 157 yards of the Bills’ 317 total and sealed the win in overtime with a 21-yard scamper into the end zone. Shady broke the 1,000 yard mark for the 6th time Sunday and remains just 39 yards short of 10,000 in his career.

McDermott continues suspect game management

Coach Sean McDermott has been under fire from the media following his decision to punt in overtime on 4th and one while on the Indianapolis 41 with 4:13 remaining in the game. It is true the Bills won anyway, but you can’t help but question the rational behind the call, especially since the first year coach has had several other coaching blunders this season.

With the Bills likely needing a minimum of 9 wins to have the slightest chance of securing the final AFC wild-card spot, a tie would have been almost as detrimental as a loss to their odds of making it.

I do understand where McDermott was coming from in stating the importance of field position in that game. However, with such little time left and a Colts offense that had driven for 77 yards on 19 plays towards the end of the 4th quarter, it is evident the correct call was to go for it, and it’s troubling not hearing the Bills’ coach own up to his error.

This is not the only time McDermott’s coaching has been in question this season. During the Atlanta game, Buffalo had only ten defensive players on the field on the final play of the game which went mostly unnoticed because the Bills managed to halt the Falcons and seal the win anyway. Had Buffalo blown that, you can be sure McDermott would have taken some serious heat from the media.

Another mistake was his questionable clock management at the end of the first half against the Buccaneers when he opted to run an extra play despite already being in field goal range and not having any timeouts. This resulted in time expiring before a kick attempt, but the Bills managed to escape with the win and allowed McDermott to avoid blame for a defeat again.

And then there was the decision to bench Tyrod Taylor for Peterman during the Chargers game which resulted in the rookie throwing for 5 interceptions as he was up against one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL. McDermott at least swallowed his pride this time and put Taylor back in for the second half, although the damage had already been done at that point.

Then again, despite these examples of shoddy coaching, McDermott is still in his first year, and he should be given a slightly longer leash for his debut season. It can be argued he has managed to salvage a season for a team that was projected to have 6 or fewer wins at the beginning of the year which is no doubt an impressive feat.

You can bet that if the Bills are able to squeak into the postseason and end a 17-year playoff drought that many of these mistakes will largely be forgotten.

What’s next for Buffalo?

*UPDATE: New England (10-3); Miami (6-7)

The Bills enter week 15 with a final home-game against the 6-7 Dolphins who just pulled off the unthinkable in upsetting New England on Monday night. Although the Bills should still be the favorites in the game, the thought of facing a hot Miami team twice in three weeks does not bode well for Buffalo.

As the Steelers triumphantly came back over the Ravens yesterday, New England’s loss will make their game against the Bills meaningful in terms of securing home-field advantage for the playoffs and should result in them keeping their starters in for that match up. However, the Ravens loss does help Buffalo more directly in the standings.

Ideally, the Chargers will beat the Chiefs this coming Sunday which will catapult them into first in the AFC West and remove them from the wild-card race. This helps the Bills because the Chargers hold the head to head tiebreaker over them.

Next: Buffalo Bills trash gameplan in Snow Bowl victory

Additionally, Bills fans should root for Tennessee to lose to the 49ers and Baltimore to fall to Cleveland, although the latter in much less likely.