Late Tragedy of Errors From Nathan Peterman Spoils Buffalo Bills Defensive Masterclass

Nathan Peterman
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 14: Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans scores on an intereption as Nathan Peterman #2 of the Buffalo Bills is late on the coverage at NRG Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

It’s becoming painfully apparent that Nathan Peterman is not an NFL-caliber quarterback.

That notion was on display in a variety of ways in the Buffalo Bills‘ 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday. His mere appearance in the game was a result of an injury Josh Allen suffered to his right elbow late in the third quarter.

Though he did throw a touchdown pass to Zay Jones which gave Buffalo a 13-10 lead early in the fourth, that’s not what most fans will associate with him in the aftermath of this game. Because after Deshaun Watson led Houston on a nine-play drive that culminated in a Ka’imi Fairbairn game-tying field goal, the second source of Sunday’s pain emerged.

Two plays into the ensuing Bills drive, Peterman dropped back and looked to his left. That’s about all he did before deciding to let go of the ball. It’s no surprise then that veteran corner Johnathan Joseph keyed in on this, jumped the route, and picked off the pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin. He subsequently scampered untouched into the end zone.

Another Forgettable Performance From Nathan Peterman Condemns the Buffalo Bills to a Loss

Joseph’s 28-yard pick six erased any hope of the Bills winning a game at the last second courtesy of Stephen Hauschka for the second straight week. Well, at least in regulation. What they now needed was Peterman exhibiting a short memory and leading the team on a game-tying touchdown drive.

Not many Bills fans got their hopes up.

What compounded things was Taiwan Jones getting wrapped up on the kickoff at the Bills 13. That pretty much summed up the performance of the Bills special teams on the day which saw Ray-Ray McCloud get benched after a fumble on the opening kickoff and a muffed punt halfway into the first quarter. But back to Peterman. On the fifth play of the drive, he threw across his body looking for LeSean McCoy. Instead, he found Texans safety, Kareem Jackson. Houston’s offense subsequently came onto the field in the victory formation.

Defense Steps Up Big-Time

Peterman’s latest stinker took the spotlight away from a Buffalo defense that had arguably its best game of the season. And that’s saying something considering how impressive it was in the team’s two wins. There’s no doubting the fact the unit put the Bills in position to vault to .500 this year.

It was an “all hands on deck” effort from both the young guns and the old dogs. Rookie Tremaine Edmunds led the team with nine tackles. Second-year man Matt Milano added eight alongside two tackles for loss and a crucial pass-breakup at the goal line. Grizzled veterans Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, and Kyle Williams combined for five sacks and two tackles for loss. The 35-year-old Alexander hauled in a fantastic interception made possible by him initially tipping the ball at the line of scrimmage.

The Bills’ beastly pass rush had Watson running for his life with regularity. All in all, they finished with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Generally speaking, those numbers lead to success when it comes to adding to the win column. Heading into this game, Buffalo owned an 18-4 record all-time when it registered at least seven sacks in a game. In fact, you have to go back to a 21-11 loss to the New England Patriots on November 11, 2001, to find the last time the Bills dropped a game in which they took the quarterback down seven times.

The Historic Nature of Peterman’s Struggles

Peterman’s most recent string of gaffes puts him in ever-increasing historic territory when it comes to quarterbacking ineptitude. Of his 30 pass attempts in 2018, four have been picked off. That gives him an interception percentage of 13.33 percent which is the worst in the NFL from a quarterback who’s thrown at least 30 passes in a season since 1988. All of it is painting a rather concerning picture regarding Peterman’s ability to contribute at the highest level of the game.

Could this possibly be the last straw? The Bills wouldn’t incur much of a hit if they decided to release Peterman. Per OverTheCap.com, they’d swallow a total of $179,631 of dead cap over the final three years of his fully guaranteed rookie deal. It includes just $59,877 this season. That’s a small fraction of their overall dead money charge for 2018 which currently stands at over $55 million. The problem with this sort of move is that the Bills would have to bring in another quarterback unfamiliar with the offense not long after signing Derek Anderson. Expect any decision on Peterman to take place at season’s end.

And, of course, what is the severity of Allen’s injury? Sports medical expert David Chao tweeted that, at first glance, it appears to be just a contusion and nothing structural. If so, it’s likely a day-to-day thing and Allen should be good to go for next week’s contest against the Indianapolis Colts. Even so, he didn’t exactly light the field on fire in Houston himself. His stat line of 10/17 for 84 yards provides confirmation. It all demonstrates the massive work in progress Buffalo’s quarterback situation remains in 2018.

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