Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

CAPACCIO: Bills-Colts: Arrow Up/Arrow Down

LeSean McCoy runs wild in the snow and helps lift the Bills to victory

Sal Capaccio
December 11, 2017 - 1:10 am

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? A game we will talk about in Buffalo for many years to come, and one that - at least for now - kept the Bills’ playoff hopes alive. Here are my Arrows:


ARROW UP
 

RB LeSean McCoy

Back in 2013, Shady ran for 217 yards through the thick snow in a game in Philadelphia. He was the best player on the field that day when the Eagles beat the Detroit Lions and he was again Sunday in this one. It’s amazing watching him keep his balance and cut while defenders and other offensive players have such a tough time just staying on their feet. McCoy ran for 97 yards in the first half alone, then added another 59 yards even after the field conditions got worse and the snow got thicker in the second half. He finished with 156 yards on a career-high 32 carries (4.9 average), including the game-winning 21-yard touchdown run in overtime. McCoy also now has 9,961 career rushing yards. He needs 39 more to become the 30th player in NFL history with 10,000 career yards.
 

P Colton Schmidt

Schmidt punted a total of six times, putting two of them inside the Colts' 20-yard line. But doing it all in the conditions he did is what gets him on this list. The wind was whipping and the thick snow didn't allow for any extra roll. Schmidt’s final punt may have been his best, and most important. With 4:13 remaining in overtime, he pinned the Colts at their own 10-yard line, which eventually led to the Bills getting the ball back and scoring the game-winning touchdown.
 

LS Reid Ferguson

This may be the first time a long snapper has made my Arrows Up, but I’m not totally sure. Whether it is or isn’t, it’s rare for it to happen, but Ferguson is very deserving. On a day in which long snappers might actually get noticed because they have a better chance to snap one high or low or sideways, we never heard Ferguson’s name. And that was a good thing. Ferguson is the one who gave Schmidt the chance to have the good day he did. In fact, each one of his seven snaps (6 punts, 1 extra-point) were just like they were on any other day, regardless of weather. Perfect.  
 

WR Deonte Thompson’s catch

One catch. That’s all Thompson had on the day. But as of now, it may be the biggest catch of the season as he reached back to pull in a 34-yard pass while having his arm hit and falling down into the snow. He even had the presence of mind to keep his hands away from his body and not have them touch the snow where it would have been tougher than usual to hold on.
 

WR Kelvin Benjamin

Benjamin finally made his presence felt in a Bills’ uniform, coming up with two huge catches on the last drive of the first half, the second of which was the team’s only touchdown of the game. The first grab, for 21-yards, took excellent footwork by the big wideout as he kept both feet inbounds. The touchdown wasn’t much different as he caught a fade pass while falling out of the corner of the end zone.
 

2-minute drill to end the first half 

It wasn’t just Benjamin’s catches. The offense overall did a great job of moving the ball down the field at the end of the first half, ultimately scoring the touchdown. They started the drive at their own 20 with just 1:42 to play. Two LeSean McCoy runs for a total of 48-yards, a spike to stop the clock by quarterback Nathan Peterman, and the two balls to Benjamin gave the Bills the lead.
 

LB Matt Milano

The rookie linebacker once again made plays, finishing with a game-high eleven tackles, including 10 solo. He got up more than once with a face full of snow after making key stops.
 

DE Ryan Davis

Davis had maybe his best game so far in a Bills’ uniform, finishing with three tackles, one for a loss, a quarterback hurry, and the only sack of the day on Colts’ quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
 

Penalties

The Bills had two total penalties for 10 total yards.
 

The New Era Field grounds crew

There was almost nothing the crew could do to make the field any better given the amount and rate at which snow was falling. But they did an incredible job throughout the day, clearing the yard lines, hash mark lanes, and sidelines. They all got to work quickly as soon as the official signaled for each TV timeout.
 

The fans

People can say we’re used to that type of weather in Orchard Park for Bills games, but we really aren’t. Those conditions were as bad as I or anyone I spoke to could ever remember. Yet, 60,222 people made their way to the game through the wind and snow on the roads, then most of them stayed throughout all of regulation and until LeSean McCoy finally ended it in overtime.


ARROW DOWN
 

Punting in OT

Yes, it worked out. And yes, because to worked out, it gave the Bills an opportunity to win the game. But 4th and 1 from the Colts' 41-yard line, with 4:13 remaining and the season on the line? With a big, running quarterback as well as LeSean McCoy in the backfield? I didn’t like the call and thought Sean McDermott was decreasing his team’s chances of winning. If not for Thompson’s catch on 3rd down, they may have, or at best just tied. It did work. They won. But if they’re in that position again, I want the Bills to go for it because that’s the best chance to try and win the game.
 

Running Mike Tolbert outside

I’m not sure why Rick Dennison continues to use Mike Tolbert outside the tackles. He is a 250-pounder who can’t get to the edge faster than most defenders. Every time they did, he seemed to gain little or no yardage. When they gave it to him between the tackles, he banged out a 25-yard run, although he fumbled at the end. Without that run, he had five other carries for seven yards. Inside should be the way he’s used as a running back. Taking it outside just seems like a wasted play.
 

Colts’ 19-play, 72-yard TD drive

The Bills had a 7-0 lead with 9:53 remaining in the game. They were in complete control considering the weather and the fact the Colts had only 131 total yards for the entire game to that point. They needed to finish the job right then and there. But they gave up a huge drive that took up all but 1:16 of the clock and the game-tying touchdown. That just shouldn’t happen. They should have closed the door and finished off the Colts before overtime.


THE BIG PICTURE
 

Here’s what you need to know. The Bills currently hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. Why? Because there are three teams tied at 7-6 and when that happens, head-to-head doesn’t matter unless all three teams played each other. Well, the Bills, Chargers, and Ravens haven’t all played each other. So then it goes to conference record, then common games (minimum of four), then strength of victory. Don’t worry about all of that just yet. Just look at the standings and know this thing is still alive.

(Courtesy NFL Game Statistics and Information System)

 

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