With 2017 in the books following a fairly surprising playoff berth, we look back at the season and our beloved Buffalo Bills. Every week is a story, and we bring this to you through the lens of key plays that defined the game. Your Week 10 match-up:
New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills
The 5-3 Buffalo Bills had just received a thorough Thursday Night Football drubbing courtesy of the New York Jets. The Bills came out completely unprepared to play against their divisional foe. The good news was that the Bills were 4-0 at home and had ten days to prepare for the 6-2 New Orleans Saints. Surprisngly, Drew Brees was not carrying the entire team on his back during their strong start to the season. A two-headed monster consisting of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara had been leading a rushing attack that was taking considerable pressure off the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The Bills took an early lead in the first quarter thanks to Stephen Hauschka. The Bills maintained their stranglehold on the game for more than FOUR minutes. Then the Saints struck back with a touchdown in the middle of the first. Then they struck again. And again. And again. Fans in attendance were treated to one of the most embarrassing losses in team history. Gaining a paltry 10 first downs and fewer than 200 yards, the offense was on the field for only 18 minutes. The defense’s only mitigating factor was their extended time on the field. Still, they didn’t fare any better. A once vaunted unit allowed 298 yards on the ground and six touchdowns before slinking back to the locker room.
Stephen Hauschka field goal (Q1, 11:02)
Ladies and gentlemen, the play of the game for the Bills. On their first possession of the day, the Buffalo Bills would take the ball down the field to the New Orleans 18-yard line. First blood came in the form of a 37-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal. This drive accounted for almost a quarter of the total time the offense would see the field for the day.
Ramon Humber forced fumble (Q1, 1:42)
The Saints made good on their opening offensive drive, coming away with a touchdown on a one-yard run by Mark Ingram. The Bills couldn’t manage anything on their next possession and the Saints were on the move again. Still very much alive at this point, Ramon Humber forced a fumble on this catch by Josh Hill. Kyle Williams recovered the loose ball and almost certainly took points off the board for New Orleans. Sadly, the Bills were completely unable to take advantage of the recovery. The Saints steadily built their lead to 17-3 going into the half and the last opportunity for Buffalo had officially been squandered.
Drew Brees rushing TD (Q3, 0:33)
Down by 27 points, the Bills defense had allowed the Saints back within striking distance for another score. The red zone defense was holding up well to this pass play and forced Brees out of the pocket. Brees handily found a running lane and ran the ball in himself. Drew Brees averages about one rushing TD a year. Is that a fun fact or a depressing fact? You make the call!
The Saints had been calling running plays non-stop for over ten minutes of game time, only briefly interrupted by Buffalo holding the ball and refusing to move it anywhere. This play came after 14 consecutive running plays (excluding special team) and became rush number 15. Ultimately, 24 runs in a row ate 15:30 of game time, yielding 174 yards and three touchdowns.
Trey Edmunds TD (Q4, 3:12)
There’s not much to say on this play. The defense was exhausted and hadn’t been performing well to begin with. The Saints were phoning it in at this point with Trey Edmunds taking over for Ingram and Kamara. Edmunds couldn’t let Brees steal the show and took this one 41 yards for a touchdown. Edmunds finished the regular season with 48 yards and one TD.
Nick O’Leary TD (Q4, 2:00)
With a little under five minutes left in the game, the Bills packed it in. Tyrod Taylor was pulled to give fifth round rookie QB Nathan Peterman a shot to gain some experience. To Peterman’s credit, he managed 23 more yards in the air than Taylor had put together all game. Coming back from the two minute warning, Peterman found Nick O’Leary in the end zone for this touchdown. O’Leary comes wide open and Peterman took advantage with this pass. The Bills wouldn’t find a way to score 37 points in the less than two minutes of time remaining. This made it official, the team was skidding.