It’s always tough to truly evaluate a player’s performance in the preseason. That becomes even more of a challenge in the fourth quarter of the opening game. With many teams playing roster hopefuls rather than mainstays at this point, standout performances need to be taken with a grain of salt.
But that’s not to take anything away from Nathan Peterman. The Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback came into Thursday’s preseason opener, a 17-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, late in the third quarter. At the time, Buffalo trailed 17-3.
Nathan Peterman Shows Flashes in Buffalo Bills Preseason Opener
His entrance into the game provided the Bills offense with immediate energy. That became apparent at the onset of the fourth quarter when Peterman led the team on a 13-play, 79 yard touchdown drive. It culminated with Peterman floating a pass from the one-yard line to Dezmin Lewis in the back left corner of the end zone.
In the lead-up to that play near the goal line, Peterman demonstrated poise in managing the offense. He completed five of seven passes for 43 yards and made two crucial scrambles. It included a seven-yard scamper on third down that kept the drive alive. The next play, he took it himself once again and gained 15 yards to set the Bills up in the red zone.
After a Joe Powell interception of Taylor Heinicke two plays into the ensuing Vikings drive, the Bills had life. With the ball on the Vikes 30 and momentum favoring Buffalo, a comeback certainly seemed in the offing. But Peterman came back down to Earth a bit. The fifth round pick out of Pittsburgh went one for five on a drive that ended with a turnover on downs. That said, it ended with an inexplicable drop from Taiwan Jones on fourth and ten that would’ve kept the drive alive.
Peterman got two more chances to lead a potential Bills comeback. On both drives, the Bills came up short. At times, Peterman tended to throw his passes too far behind their intended targets or overthrow them altogether. And particularly on the last drive of the game, the Bills reserves on the offensive line had persistent issues dealing with the Vikings pass rush.
What ultimately sealed the Bills fate was a huge miscommunication between Peterman and his center. On fourth and four from the Vikings 45, with Peterman in the shotgun, the snap sailed over his head as he apparently wasn’t ready for the ball to come his way. The resulting scramble saw Minnesota rookie outside linebacker Elijah Lee come up with the ball.
Overall, it was an up and down preseason debut for Peterman. Though he showed a quick release, an ability to elude pressure with his feet, and solid decision-making at times, he’s clearly a work in progress at this point. There’s certainly no reason to believe that anyone other than Tyrod Taylor will be the Bills starter in week one against the New York Jets. After all, he started the game with three straight completions to feature wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
But the battle for the second-stringer behind Taylor seems to be fairly fluid. T.J. Yates certainly brings a veteran presence with him set to enter his seventh NFL season. But one game into the preseason, head coach Sean McDermott had to have liked what he saw from his rookie signal caller. Peterman finished with the most completions (13) among the six quarterbacks who played for either team in this game. He also had 112 passing yards compared to Yates 48.
McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison‘s next chance to evaluate Peterman in game action takes place next Thursday when the Bills face the Philadelphia Eagles. Proceedings from Lincoln Financial Field in Philly get underway at 7:00 PM ET.