ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. —The Indianapolis Colts on Sunday fell to the Buffalo Bills, 13-7, in overtime in their Week 14 matchup at New Era Field.
What's top of mind for the Colts after falling to 3-10 on the year?
Throw out the gameplan.
Photos from the week 14 game against the Buffalo Bills.
When the Indianapolis Colts arrived at New Era Field Sunday morning, there was definitely a chill in the air — but not much else. About an hour later, snow flurries began to fall. And an hour after that, we had an official whiteout to start the game.
With the field covered with slippery snow by the opening kickoff — despite the best efforts of the field crew, who worked hour after hour this weekend to try to keep the turf, or at the very least the field lines, clean — the Colts and Buffalo Bills had to settle for more of an old fashioned style, with a run-heavy approach, while trying to sneak in some passes from here or there to keep the defense honest.
It was the pass game, actually, that got the Bills on the scoreboard first, as rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman — filling in for an injured Tyrod Taylor — found wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on the fade play for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left in the first half to go up 7-0.
The score would stay that way until the Colts willed their way to a 19-play, 77-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, which culminated in a three-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to tight end Jack Doyle. Doyle was also the recipient of what appeared to be a potential game-winning two-point conversion, but a controversial pass interference call on wide receiver Kamar Aiken wiped it out. So that set up kicker Adam Vinatieri for an improbable 43-yard extra point attempt to tie it, which he barely snuck through at the 1:16 mark. He'd have one more 43-yard game-winning attempt with six seconds left, but it was wide left, sending the game into overtime.
After trading punts, the Bills had the final laugh. Again using a well-timed big play through the air — a 34-yard pass from quarterback Joe Webb, in for an injured Peterman, to Deonte Thompson to the Indianapolis 26 — Buffalo's LeSean McCoy found an opening three plays later for a 21-yard walkoff touchdown run.
With Mother Nature dictating the way Sunday's game would go, it's hard to look at the final result as a major disappointment for the Colts. But their 3-10 record — and the fact they're now officially knocked out of playoff contention — certainly stings.
After tying the game at 7 late in the fourth quarter on Vinatieri's 43-yard extra point, the Colts actually had a second opportunity to escape with a win on Sunday.
With just more than a minute remaining, Webb attempted a pass play to tight end Charles Clay, but safety Matthias Farley was all over it for the Colts' defense, picking it off for his second pick of the season and, most importantly, giving his offense the ball back at the Buffalo 28-yard line. After a three-yard run by Frank Gore to the 25, Brissett milked the game clock all the way down to the six-second mark, giving Vinatieri yet another 43-yard try, this time for a field goal — and the win.
The Colts, for the second time in about five minutes, rushed to clear a spot for Vinatieri, using their feet, hands — anything they could find — to give the kicker the best chance possible to send the team home victorious.
But Vinatieri's low attempt would go wide left, keeping the score tied at 7 and eventually sending the game into overtime.
One can look at the aforementioned pass interference call on the two-point conversion as a major moment in Sunday's game, but in this instance, the Colts unequivocally could've earned an improbable, crazy win. That, of course, didn't happen, and the Bills ended up making a couple more big plays in the overtime period to move to 7-6 on the season and remain in the playoff hunt in the AFC.
PLAY OF THE GAME
After an uneventful first 12 minutes of the third quarter, the Bills looked like they might have had something cooking.
On 2nd and 10 From the Buffalo 20, veteran fullback Mike Tolbert took the handoff and rumbled his way up the gut for Buffalo, delivering a devastating lowered shoulder to get 25 yards to the Buffalo 45.
But on this play, Barekvious Mingo wasn't going to let nothing — let alone a little snow — get in his way.
Mingo chased down Tolbert from behind and punched the ball out of his hand, and then he fell on the football to complete the fumble recovery.
While the Colts couldn't respond to the takeaway in the final 2:23 of the third quarter, it was an impressive show of effort from Miingo to not only get to Tolbert and get the ball out of his hands, but simply just to battle the heavy snow at his feet to make such an impact play.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
• Gore was an absolute workhorse the whole afternoon for the Colts' offense. With an obvious emphasis on running the ball considering the conditions, Gore took the rock over and over and over, logging a career-high (yes, career-high) 36 carries for 130 yards, while also catching one pass for 10 yards. Rain or shine — or lake effect blizzard — you know Gore is going to be ready to play, which was certainly the case on Sunday.
• The Colts' game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter, simply put, showed just how much the team desperately wanted to come away with a win. It went 77 yards on an astonishing 19 plays, and, really, for the first time all afternoon, the pass game opened up for Brissett. The Colts went into the drive having not targeted top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton once all day, and their leader in total receptions, tight end Jack Doyle, just once for one yard, but that certainly changed. On the final drive, Brissett completed three passes to Hilton for 29 yards, and, once they got to the Buffalo three-yard line, Brissett used a nifty play action fake to Gore to find Doyle for the three-yard touchdown reception. Doyle was also the recipient on the potential go-ahead two-point conversion, but as previously mentioned, it wasn't meant to be.
• Give tons of credit to long snapper Luke Rhodes and punter Rigoberto Sanchez for putting in a solid performance in extremely shaky conditions on Sunday. With field position so key, Sanchez would punt seven times for a 38.4-yard average — with a 35.6 net — while two of his punts landed inside the 20, including one that was downed at the Buffalo two-yard line. Also included in Sanchez's day was a 47-yard punt to the Buffalo eight-yard line.
• In his second start of the season — and first since Week 2— Quincy Wilson did a good job batting away passes for the Colts' secondary, as he finished his day with three passes defensed. Though the Bills had a few big passing plays, Wilson, who also had two tackles, including one for a loss, did a good job on his end making sure the ball fell to the snow when it came his way.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• The chunk plays really hurt the Colts' defense throughout the afternoon, with the exclamation point coming on McCoy's game-winning 21-yard touchdown run in overtime. The Bills had pass plays of 34 and 21 yards, and run plays of 25, 23 and 21 yards.
• It was going to be a hard streak to maintain given the conditions on Sunday, but the Colts came into the Bills game without allowing a team to reach 100 yards rushing in five straight games for the first time since the 1971 season. The Bills would have 113 yards by halftime on Sunday — again, mainly because of the conditions, but, as previously mentioned, they were also able to get loose on several occasions. Buffalo finished with with 51 total carries for 227 yards — 4.5 yards per carry — on the day, and the veteran McCoy, who had a memorable game in the snow with the Philadelphia Eagles, finished with 32 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown.
• It took quite a while for the Colts' offense to even show any interest in passing the ball in the at-times whiteout conditions. Brissett had zero — zero — pass attempts in the first quarter, and by halftime, had completed 1-of-2 passes for 11 yards. The Colts went to the air much more in the second half as the conditions cleared up a bit, and Brissett finished his day completing 11-of-22 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown. Hard to argue against a very run-heavy approach on a day like this, but the team will assuredly find some opportunities where the pass might've been effective as they watch the film tomorrow.
The Colts have a short week to prepare for Thursday night's matchup against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC/NFL Network. The Broncos entered today's home game against the New York Jets with a 3-9 record.