Bills dig out from snow to remain firmly in AFC playoff race
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Once the last snowball was thrown and the final snow angel formed on the New Era Field turf, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier trudged to the parking lot, where he discovered his car better resembled a snowdrift.
“It was hard to get out,” Frazier acknowledged Monday, a day after a lake-effect storm dumped more than a foot of snow during and after the Bills’ 13-7 overtime victory against Indianapolis. “But I enjoyed getting the snow off it because after a win, you know, nothing gets you down.”
Even Mother Nature can’t bury a Bills team that continues to exceed even the most modest of preseason expectations.
Having already persevered through a major roster purge and persistent questions at quarterback, the Bills now showed they’re capable of braving the arctic elements to remain firmly in a convoluted playoff picture. At 7-6, Buffalo is technically the AFC’s sixth seed. In actuality, the Bills don’t control their own chances due to potential tie-breaking scenarios that would go against them.
After closing their home schedule against Miami on Sunday, the Bills end the season with road games at New England and Miami.
Frazier sees no reason to count Buffalo out yet based on the resolve the team’s shown under first-time head coach Sean McDermott.
“Kudos to our players for battling through some difficult moments where they could’ve easily said, ‘Our season’s over,'” he said.
“But they are fighting and scratching and clawing to get better,” Frazier added. “To battle the way they did yesterday in those conditions and not give in to the elements, that’s a big deal.”
Frazier’s defense did its part. After allowing Indianapolis to tie the game by capping a 19-play, 77-yard drive with 1:16 remaining, the Bills limited the Colts to 21 yards on their only possession in overtime, and forced them to punt with 2:25 left.
The Bills’ offense, which had managed six first downs and 219 yards through regulation, responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive that ended with LeSean McCoy’s 21-yard touchdown run with 1:33 remaining.
After losing three straight following a 5-2 start, Buffalo has regained some of its footing by winning two of three.
“I’m proud of what the guys accomplished yesterday and the way they accomplished it to this point,” McDermott said. “But still a lot of work to do.”
Quarterback remains Buffalo’s most immediate concern.
Tyrod Taylor was sidelined on Sunday, a week after bruising his left knee in a 23-3 loss to New England. Rookie backup Nathan Peterman is being evaluated for a concussion after he was hurt diving headfirst on a 2-yard run in the third quarter against the Colts. And Peterman was making his first start since throwing five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss to the Chargers last month.
With Taylor showing signs of progress over the past few days, McDermott said he’s encouraged by initial medical reports that suggest Buffalo won’t have to scramble to add a quarterback this week.
Buffalo’s third quarterback is Joe Webb, an eight-year journeyman who has been used mostly in special teams roles.
Webb took over for Peterman and went 2 of 6 for 35 yards and an interception from Buffalo’s 28 on the Bills’ final drive of regulation. The Colts failed to capitalize when Adam Vinatieri’s 43-yard field-goal attempt fluttered wide left through the elements.
Webb responded with a 34-yard pass to Deonte Thompson that set up McCoy’s touchdown.
The Bills have struggled no matter who’s behind center. Taylor has gone a combined 37 of 65 for 304 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his past three starts.
Buffalo’s receivers are also limping. Kelvin Benjamin’s status is uncertain after he aggravated an injury to his right knee against Indianapolis, while Jordan Matthews was placed on season-ending injured reserve last week.
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