Well that one hurt but, as Buffalo Bills fans, we’re used to these type of games.
The game provided highs (three turnovers forced by the defense, Nathan Peterman making, gasp, NFL caliber throws) and too-familiar lows (Peterman’s pick-6; the offense being just that offensive).
With the highs and lows, players’ stocks ebbed and flowed. Read on to see who finished on the uptick and who should perhaps see the ax.
Stock Down: Buffalo Quarterbacks
In reality, both Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen could get their own category, but let’s just simplify it and single out the position. Allen continues to struggle as a passer through fault of his own (sensing and avoiding pressure when none is there, poor footwork) and that of his weapons (the Bills wide-receiving unit as a whole doesn’t win its match-ups too often). Allen’s day ended with an injury to his right (throwing) elbow. Peterman entered and promptly threw a go-ahead TD to Zay Jones (more on him later). It was downhill from there for the second-year quarterback.
After Houston drove down for a fieldgoal to tie the game at 13, Peterman missed an open Kelvin Benjamin before his bugaboo popped back up: awful throws outside numbers. Peterman threw late and soft to the boundary and Jonathan Joseph easily picked off the pass, returning it for an easy touchdown. Not to be outdone, Peterman also threw an interception to end the game—throwing across his body toward the middle of the field.
The Bills need something, anything more from this position moving forward.
Stock down: Danny Crossman
Oh those Bills specials teams. As Mike Rodak pointed out, the Bills entered the game with a 21.5 special teams efficiency score (from ESPN stats).
It actually got worse.
Ray-Ray McCloud III fumbled the opening kickoff (it was thankfully recovered by the Bills) and muffed a punt that set up the Houston Texans’ first touchdown. The left side of the punting unit got blown away on a punt block that set up a Texans field goal, giving Houston a 10-0 lead.
To top it all off, following Peterman’s pick-6, Houston had to kick from their own 20 because of an unsportsmanlike penalty. Taiwan Jones, who took over for McCloud, couldn’t handle the kick at the 10-yard line and was tackled at the 15.
Stock up: Lorenzo Alexander
The ageless wonder continues to defy the odds and had himself a game against the Texans.
Alexander picked up 1.5 sacks and also showed off his athleticism when he batted a pass into the air and picked it off.
Alexander continues to lead both on the field with his play and in the locker room. The latter quality may be needed heading into the coming weeks as the offensive futility could start to frustrate an ever-improving defense.
Stock up: Zay Jones
It may be hard to believe that someone who had just three catches could be in the stock up category, but stats don’t tell the whole story.
The second-year receiver had perhaps his best catch in the NFL when he hauled in a 16-yard pass in the corner of the end zone, giving the Bills a 13-10 lead.
What stuck out though was his team-high eight targets and ability to get open, something that has been lacking for the Buffalo offense this year. When (and if) the Bills get competent quarterback play, Jones’ improved route running will pay dividends.