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Plays that defined 2017: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers

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A review of the 2017 season and the plays that defined each game.

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 11 match-up:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers

The Buffalo Bills’ winning ways were coming to a screeching halt. Two severe beatings at the hands of the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints put the Bills at 5-4. Talk of the “same ol’ Bills” was rampant as the team prepared to head west to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers, led by former Buffalo Bills head coach Anthony Lynn, epitomized an up and down season. At 3-6, the Chargers had lost their first four games, won the next three and lost two games before hosting Buffalo. An emerging Los Angeles defensive front with a ferocious pass rush seemed like the Bills’ largest obstacle on the road back to success.

In a move that I’m sure fans have forgotten about already and stopped debating over a long time ago... the Bills elected to start Nathan Peterman at quarterback over Tyrod Taylor in the hope of jump-starting an anemic offense. It uh, didn’t work. A couple mistakes from the rookie quarterback and continued defensive woes led to a heck of a day for the Chargers. Ahead by 30 points going into the half, Los Angeles coasted the rest of the afternoon and still managed a comfortable win. Tyrod Taylor was brought out after halftime. While the offense under Taylor’s direction managed to put up 17 second half points, the coasting Chargers matched that stride for stride. After the 54-24 loss it was full on panic mode in Western New York.

Nathan Peterman 20-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin (Q1, 12:59)

After a conservative start of two rushes and a safe pass squeaked out a first down, Rick Dennison called a play to test out the rookie. Throwing over the middle, Nathan Peterman shows off why the Bills wanted Kelvin Benjamin on their team. Despite a ton of traffic around Benjamin he’s very much “NFL open” on this play thanks to a major height advantage. Peterman places the ball well and the Bills were moving. When fans talk up Peterman, plays like this are the reason why.

Unfortunately, Benjamin was injured on the play and things went downhill fast. The rookie signal caller was already facing long odds, and this loss was one that couldn’t be afforded.

Nathan Peterman’s first interception (Q1, 12:00)

Just two plays later Peterman tossed interception number one on the day. Feel free to discuss whose fault this one was in the comments. All I’ll say (for now) is that I have some preliminary math in my back pocket so stay tuned.

After Los Angeles took the early lead on this pick-six, Buffalo got the ball back. This drive also ended with an interception. Buffalo’s defense held and didn’t allow the Chargers to capitalize on the second turnover of the day.

LeSean McCoy 37-yard run (Q1, 9:50)

After the positive defensive series, Buffalo took over at their 36-yard line. The Bills elected to put the ball in LeSean McCoy’s hands to start the series and he delivered. A run of 37 yards was just Shady being Shady.

LeSean McCoy 27-yard TD (Q1, 9:12)

It worked the play before, so why not try to give the ball to McCoy again? Despite the early turnover issue, the game was tied after this run. No need to analyze McCoy, but Richie Incognito shows off why he’ll be missed on the field.

Nathan Peterman interception number four (Q2, 12:49)

The Chargers were steadily working on their lead heading into the second quarter. Down by ten, the Bills were still in the game despite three first quarter turnovers. After the last attempt to build a castle an offensive drive had burned down, fallen over, then sank into the swamp; surely this time it would work. Sadly it was not to be. Better ball placement could have avoided this pick, but note that the offensive line doesn’t do Nathan Peterman many favors here. The Chargers turned this into seven and the latest rout was now underway.

Nathan Peterman interception number 5 (Q2, 0:41)

Following the fourth interception, the Bills had two three and outs in which they gained eight total yards. A 19-yard catch by Deonte Thompson on the play before this final interception put Peterman’s character on display. Despite a disastrous debut, he refused to give in.

A few interesting footnotes occured in the second half. Tyrod Taylor had a rare fumble that was returned for a touchdown. Charles Clay wiped out a touchdown of his own via an offensive pass interference flag. But the story of the game was written in stone in the first half. Just when Bills fans had thought it couldn’t get any worse, it had.

If there’s a silver lining to be found, it was the emergence of a meme-worthy quote courtesy of Sean McDermott.