On the opening drive, the Colts did exactly what they wanted to do. They drove 65 yards in 11 plays, punctuating the drive with a three-yard run from Jonathan Taylor. The Colts overwhelmed Buffalo with their physicality on that drive, but quarterback Carson Wentz was able to hit on a few passes, including an 18-yard strike to Michael Pittman Jr.
Buffalo’s first drive started promisingly enough, but a third-down false start on Cody Ford, starting at right guard with right tackle Spencer Brown out, pushed Buffalo back five yards, and then a holding penalty on Mitch Morse led to a 3rd & 18. Josh Allen forced an ill-advised throw into double coverage, and it was intercepted by George Odum.
The Colts struck fast after the turnover, moving inside Buffalo’s 25-yard line in just four plays. A throwback crossing route to Taylor worked wonders, and the all-world running back had his second touchdown in as many drives to give the Colts a two-score lead.
Buffalo was moving the ball again on its second drive, as Allen hit on big passes to Gabe Davis and Dawson Knox to move inside the Colts’ 30-yard line. However, Allen threw another ill-advised ball that was called an interception on the field. After review, the officials saw that Odum trapped the ball, so Buffalo was granted a reprieve. After the Bills moved inside the ten, Allen fired a perfect pass to Stefon Diggs, who toe-tapped his way to a touchdown, cutting the lead to 14-7.
Buffalo appeared to force the Colts into a three-and-out on their next drive, but two defensive penalties (roughing the passer and pass interference) made it so the Colts had new life. After a weird measurement snafu on a third down that the Colts had converted, the Bills caught a break when Nyheim Hines was unable to handle a handoff. While he recovered the fumble, it set up a 3rd & 10. Then, Wentz escaped what should have been a sack, scrambling for 18 yards to convert the third down and put the Colts in business. The defense bowed its neck and held the Colts to a field goal, which Michael Badgely hit from 36 yards out to make it 17-7.
Disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff. Isaiah McKenzie fielded the kick, lost his footing, and then lost the football without being touched. The Colts recovered the fumble and Jonathan scored from two yards out to push the score to 24-7.
The Bills moved the ball on the next drive, but a strip-sack of Josh Allen pushed the Bills out of field goal range. Tyler Bass missed a 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half, mercifully ending what was a dreadful 30 minutes of football for the home team.
Buffalo went three-and-out on its first possession, as Dawson Knox and Gabe Davis each dropped passes that would have been tough grabs. The Bills punted just 35 second into the half. The Colts moved the ball easily again, aided by a frustration penalty called on Jordan Poyer for a late hit on T.Y. Hilton. The defense stepped up, as Ed Oliver sacked Wentz. Taron Johnson was called for holding, nullifying yet another third-down stop. After trading penalties, Buffalo eventually did force a punt, which the Colts downed at the nine-yard line.
A 28-yard run from Matt Breida coupled with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty flipped the field for Buffalo. The drive was the first sign of an effective running game for the Bills in some time, as Breida carried three times and Devin Singletary carried once to combine for all of the early yardage. A couple of incomplete passes led to the drive ending, and head coach Sean McDermott opted for a 49-yard field goal instead of a 4th & 5 try. Bass missed the kick.
Predictably, the Colts moved the ball with ease on the ground, as they converted a 3rd & 3 with a short pass before Taylor broke three tackles for a 40-yard run. On the next play, Taylor ran through a demoralized defense for his fourth touchdown of the game to make it 31-7.
Nothing much mattered from that point. The Bills had some drives. The Colts had some drives. The Bills’ inability to move the ball when it mattered coupled with their inability to stop the Colts’ physical running attack sealed their fate.
Buffalo is in second place in the AFC East, trailing the New England Patriots by half a game. The Colts are 6-5 and in much better shape in the playoff hunt.
- Jonathan Taylor had 173 total yards and five touchdowns…by the end of the third quarter.
- Taylor finished with 185 rushing yards on 32 carries, matching his 5.8 yards-per-carry average coming into the game.
- Taylor’s five touchdowns set a franchise record for Indianapolis.
- The Bills had 203 total yards as a team in the first three quarters. They finished with over 300 total yards, but they added much of that when the game was out of reach.
- Mitchell Trubisky played.
- Josh Allen finished 22-of-36 for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
- Stefon Diggs caught two touchdown passes.
- Buffalo trailed at half for the first time since November 4, 2018 at the Chicago Bears.
- The Bills allowed two touchdowns in the first quarter. They hadn’t allowed a first-quarter touchdown all season.
- This is Buffalo’ worst margin of defeat since losing to the Tennessee Titans in Week 5 last year. That one was a 42-16 defeat.
If there’s one positive, the Bills ended this game with no new injuries. Everyone left unscathed in the physical sense, though the crushing defeat is sure to lead to bruised egos for all. For the Colts, All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson left the game with an ankle injury. He was lobbying to return, but given the blowout nature of the score, he was held out for the rest of the game.
Check out the Overreaction Postgame Show with Joe Miller to commiserate with your fellow Bills fans!