The Buffalo Bills defense played outstanding in containing Deshaun Watson in the Houston Texans offense, but early special teams miscues, an injury for rookie Josh Allen, and Nate Peterman doing his best Nate Peterman Meme impression, added up to a close loss, 20-13.
In the first half, the Bills fell on the losing side of a defensive struggle. They held the Texans to 115 total yards, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. The only problem was that the Texans were one better, holding Buffalo to 53 total yards, three fumbles (Houston recovering two), and two sacks. Two major special teams plays, a muffed punt and a blocked punt, translated into possessions in Buffalo territory and ten points for the Texans.
The Bills finally started to catch up in the second half, largely on the back of their defense. In the third quarter, Lorenzo Alexander read Deshaun Watson’s eyes, swatted a pass into the air, and caught it for his first interception on the season. The Bills turned that into a field goal.
Josh Allen was dodging defenders all day, but after he hooked up with Kelvin Benjamin on a 39 yard gain, he took two hard hits, one to his elbow. The Bills rookie, in noticeable pain, was taken out of the game for Nate Peterman. Peterman played his part in bringing the Bills back into contention, driving the team downfield and connected with Zay Jones for a 16 yard touchdown pass. That gave Buffalo their first lead of the day, 13-10.
The Bills sustained another long drive to take time off the clock, but ended up punting the ball to Houston with four minutes left in the game. For a moment, it seemed like the Bills had locked up the victory - Jerry Hughes forced another Watson fumble, but amid a Buffalo scrum a Texan came up with the ball. Then Watson took a deep shot to Will Fuller, who’d been quiet all day, and the speedster drew a pass interference call in the end zone against Phillip Gaines. It was gut check time, with 1st and goal at the one yard line. First down: tackle for loss. Second down: tackle for loss. Third down: false start, then an incomplete pass. The Bills held Houston away from the lead, but Kai’mi Fairbairn equalized the score at 13.
But then, as we’ve seen him do too many times in his short career, Peterman turned back into a pumpkin. With a minute and a half left in the game, Peterman underthrew a curl to Kelvin Benjamin, and Jonathan Joseph snagged it and sprinted into the end zone. With no timeouts and less than two minutes remaining, Peterman landed one first down, then attempted a ridiculous throw across his body which was also intercepted.
- Josh Allen’s exit was the big news on the injury front, but starting left guard Vlad Ducasse also left with a knee injury. He was replaced by Ryan Groy.
- Lorenzo Alexander was a star today, with an interception and 1.5 sacks.
- The team’s other esteemed veteran, Kyle Williams, had two sacks. It was a great day for the old-timers of the roster.
- It was a sackfest for Buffalo, who came up with seven (and hit Watson many more times) on Sunday.
- After Lamar Miller found some room against the defense, Buffalo clamped down. The Texans finished with 24 carries for only 74 yards.
- Jordan Poyer had the team’s other interception, in the end zone at the first half to snuff out any points from the Texans.
- Harrison Phillips recovered his first career fumble (forced by Trent Murphy), setting up a short field for Buffalo’s first points.
- LeSean McCoy was the leading rusher, with 16 attempts for 73 yards. He added two receptions for 21 yards, but was held out of the endzone for another game.
- Kelvin Benjamin (2 for 43) and Zay Jones (3 for 35 and a touchdown) were the leading receivers today.
- Following his game today, Nate Peterman has an awful 3 touchdowns against 9 interceptions in his career. At the most crucial times, Peterman has a knack for playing terribly.