1 – McCoy hurt, Ivory runs hard
Buffalo’s offense was already entering the game without their starting quarterback as rookie Josh Allen watched from the sidelines with a right elbow injury. On the second offensive play from scrimmage, Buffalo also lost their starting running back.
“LeSean McCoy is in the concussion protocol,” said head coach Sean McDermott after the game.
On an outside run to the left McCoy was up ended on a low tackle and his head hit the turf hard. The Bills feature back laid on his back for a good five minutes before team doctors and athletic trainers sat him up. He eventually walked off the field under his own power.
After an examination in the sideline tent, McCoy was taken to the locker room for evaluation for a head injury, and was subsequently declared out for the game.
Fortunately, the Bills have a very capable backup in Chris Ivory.
Ivory ran hard all afternoon often fighting through initial contact for extra yardage. He finished Sunday’s game with 81 yards on 16 carries to average 5.1 per rush.
“Chris, I’ve watched him play from afar,” said Derek Anderson of Ivory. “He runs hard. He’s got good vision. I handed him a couple of balls and I’m like, ‘Where is he going with this one?’ And he hits it back side. Those guys did a great job stepping in for LeSean.”
Marcus Murphy also chipped in with four carries for 53 yards. Buffalo had 135 yards rushing in the game.
2 – Turnovers and penalties hurt again
Down 6-0 at the start of the second quarter, Buffalo’s offense was moving the ball. Sitting on the Colts’ 22-yard line, Derek Anderson completed a pass to Charles Clay at the Colts 13, but he was stripped of the ball by Colts S Mike Mitchell and Darius Leonard recovered to end the scoring threat.
“I’ve got to hold onto the ball,” said Clay. “It’s very deflating. They count on me in those situations to make that play and I didn’t. I’ve just got to go back to work and prevent it from happening again.”
That turnover was turned in points quickly by the Colts on the ensuing three-play scoring drive, one which saw the Bills commit three penalties
Tre’Davious White was flagged for pass interference giving the Colts a free 14 yards. Andrew Luck then found a wide-open Chester Rogers over the middle for 29 yards. Two plays later Colts RB Marlon Mack was uncovered in the right flat and Luck hit him with a pass and watched him run 29 yards untouched into the end zone for a score.
Buffalo then committed an illegal formation and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the extra point attempt. The penalty moved the ball to the one-yard line and the Colts instead elected to go for two and converted.
“I’ll give credit to the Colts. They beat us in every phase,” said McDermott. “There wasn’t one good moment other than some moving the ball. They beat us in every phase, offensively, defensively and special teams so credit goes to them.”
The Bills would commit three more penalties before the second quarter was over for a single-quarter total of six for 55 yards. Three were committed by the defense, two by special teams on the extra point attempt and one by the offense.
That was followed by Buffalo’s second turnover of the quarter. Once again, the Bills were in Colts territory. On a 1st-and-5 from the Colts 43-yard line, Anderson’s pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin over the middle was picked off by Mike Mitchell at the Indianapolis 21 and returned 47 yards to the Bills 32.
Before the half was over, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri came on to put a 36-yard field goal up and through for a 24-0 halftime lead.
It marked the second straight week that a pair of first half turnovers resulted in double-digit points for their opponent.
Last week the Texans scored 10 points off a pair of special teams turnovers. Sunday, the Colts got 11 points on two offensive turnovers by the Bills.
The turnovers continued in the second half. Anderson lost a fumble as he tried to throw while stepping up in the pocket and Indianapolis recovered and returned it to the Bills two-yard line. That was turned into a touchdown.
Then with five and a half minutes left in the game, a Derek Anderson pass intended for Zay Jones over the middle was picked off and returned to the Buffalo 20-yard line. One play later, Marlon Mack was in the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run.
The last turnover happened when Derek Anderson’s pass to the left sideline with three minutes remaining bounced off a Colts defender and into the hands of Indianapolis’ Kenny Moore. It marked the third turnover in Colts territory.
“I’ve got to be better. That’s just the facts,” said Derek Anderson. “Coach talks about controlling the football and not giving them points. I gave them points before the half. I came right back out in the second half and turned it over again and they get seven points. I’ve got to be better with the ball, have better awareness. I can’t turn it over four times and expect to win a football game.”
All told the Bills gave up 24 total points on their five-turnover day in a 32-point defeat.
3 – Chunk plays a problem
If there was one thing the Bills defense has been pretty consistent in preventing it’s the big play. Coming into the game Buffalo had given up just 18 through the first five games. On Sunday, their defense had trouble stopping the Colts offense from picking up yardage in chunks that consistently moved the sticks.
“Run defense it comes down to gap integrity and recognizing schemes going on inside. We didn’t do a good enough job of that,” said McDermott. “When they do run outside we need to get support from the linebacker level and the secondary and we didn’t get that.”
Indianapolis gained 10 yards or more on 10 of their 23 offensive plays in the first half, which helped them total 246 yards of offense.
A worn-out defense that was already on the field for almost 18 minutes in the first half, found getting stops in the second half just as difficult.
“They came out and executed a great game plan,” said Lorenzo Alexander. “They were all over the board as far as their run game and we weren’t able to get a bead on what they were doing. I thought they did a great job of switching it up. In the end we have to figure out how to make plays. Win on first and second down and get a team like that in third and long if we’re going to give ourselves a chance.
“We didn’t create any turnovers. Anytime we do that and we’re struggling that’s the kind of result we’re going to get. That’s kind of where we’re at as a team.”
The Colts had four plays that went for 20 yards or more, two of which went for touchdowns.