Week 10 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 16, Indianapolis Colts 17
What you need to know
The Bills had a solid game plan to beat the Colts. Pound the ball with Anthony Thomas, control the ball and the clock, and play nickel defense all game shutting down the deep pass, allowing everything underneath. Except for a goal line stand, the Bills even played nickel in the red zone. The Bills came in doing everything to slow the Colts’ offense down, and it worked as the Bills were in position to win this game.
Anthony Thomas, playing for the injured Willis McGahee, was a work horse with 28 carries for 108 yards. He was never targeted in the passing game, in fact, J.P. Losman only threw the ball 14 times in the contest (one pass was ruled a non play). The Bills continued to pound with Thomas throughout the game to control the clock, and keep the Colt’s offense off the field. The Bills’ coaches showed complete confidence in Thomas.
The Bills started the game throwing to Lee Evans, who was targeted 80% of the time in the first half, and caught three passes in the first series. After that first series, the Bills went to the ground exclusively, only attempting two more passes in the first half, where both were incomplete. After the early scripting that benefited Evans, the Bills abandoned the pass. In the second half, when Losman found himself needing to move the ball in the air, WR Peerless Price was his security blanket. Price caught four of the five competitions in the second half. All of the Price receptions were short, but it was clear that Losman favored Price as a dump off receiver as the Colts pressure increased.
The Colts’ running backs were used in polar opposite ways on the field. As the Bills pinned the Colts deep in their own territory on every possession, Dominic Rhodes was the work horse in Colts’ territory. Rhodes took every running back opportunity except one Addai reception and one carry on the Colts’ side of the field. Addai took every single opportunity on the Bills’ side of the field as Manning worked the ball into scoring position. Rhodes brought the ball out of danger, and Addai got every opportunity available to produce big fantasy points. Rhodes fumbled the ball early in the fourth quarter, and never saw the field again. Addai took six carries for 39 of his total yards at the end of the game when the Colts were running out the clock. Without the fumble, those carries might have gone to Rhodes.
Given that the Bills were allowing all short underneath passes, the running backs and tight ends had a much better game on the day. 21 receptions were brought in by RBs and TEs compared to six by the wide receivers. The biggest beneficiary of this was TE Ben Utecht. At 6’6”, 251 pounds, Utecht was the perfect large target underneath just five yards from the line of scrimmage. He responded with seven receptions for 66 yards. Utecht could become a valuable TE should other teams opt to game play the Colts in the same fashion.
With Harrison double teamed, this was the sixth consecutive week that Manning targeted Wayne more than Harrison. What should be noted is that 75% of the passes to Wayne were planned timing plays where Wayne was clearly the only read on the play. These passes were highly successful, with one resulting in a score. Harrison on the other hand had no plays seemingly designed to go to him. Manning looked for Harrison in tough spots and in the two minute offense. Wayne’s plays were scripted, Harrison’s looks came when Manning needed a big play.
What you ought to know
|QB J.P. Losman, Pass: 9 - 13 - 83 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
There wasn’t much passing offense for the Bills. Losman only threw the ball 14 times, with nine completions. One third of those completions came in the first series following the offensive script. The rest of the completions were sack saving short passes to WR Peerless Price in the second half. Losman was sacked four times, and fumbled the ball in the back field. The Bills weren’t looking to pass the ball in this contest; Losman was mostly on the field to hand off to Thomas.
Thomas carried the ball 28 times for 109 yards as he pounded the ball forward all game. He ran with power and showed speed breaking off a 19 yard run. Thomas took the ball on almost 70% of the offensive plays and responded with a great game. He was dropped to a crawl as the Bills moved anywhere near the Colt’s end zone. The Bills had 11 plays in the Colt’s red zone for a net negative eight yards. Thomas enjoyed great success out in the middle of the field. Thomas had a ten yard run negated early in the game on an offensive holding penalty.
Williams' only carry in the game came in the first series. He gained nothing on his only attempt.
Evans was game planed into the offense in the first series, targeted four times in the first possession, and caught three passes. From there, Evans wasn’t even looked at for the rest of the half as Thomas ran the ball. Evans was targeted three times in the second half catching only one pass. Peerless Price was certainly the go to receiver as the game wore on. Evans had a hot start as the first series was scripted to him, from there, he was virtually non existent.
There really was no passing offense in this game. As the game wore on, and Losman needed to move the ball, he targeted Price over 55% of the second half passes. With game planning focusing on the run in the first half, Losman didn’t look to Price until there was two minutes left in the half, and the Bills needed to move the ball. Price didn’t catch that only look at him in the first half. In the second half, Losman looked for Price on almost every passing play as a first read, and he responded by catching four of the five balls thrown his way. It seemed like Price was not part of the game plan out of the gate, but was certainly Losman’s go to receiver in the second half.
Royal was targeted on the Colts’ 12 yard line in the red zone, but failed to make the catch.
Lindell made three out of four field goals in the game and converted one extra point attempt.
Given the Bills' game plan, there wasn’t much in the way of rush defense. With the Bills playing in the nickel package, it left four linemen up front. With the larger rushing lanes given away by the Bills, Rhodes and Addai were able to advance the ball well. The Bills were attempting to strip the ball away on almost every stop.
The Bills played nickel the entire game, working to take away the Colts’ ability to pass. In almost every way, it worked to perfection. Manning was able to attempt three down field passes, as the Bills left the short passes open. Harrison was double teamed all game, and finished with two receptions. Wayne was taken out by man-to-man defense from McGee. All the Colts could do was dump off underneath, exactly what the Bills were giving them. With a four man defensive line, Manning had all day to make throws and completed 27 passes, but none of them were quick strike or dangerous competitions, just short underneath passes.
|QB Peyton Manning, Pass: 27 - 39 - 236 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0|
Manning took what the defense gave him. He was never pressured, didn’t take a sack, no interceptions, and had all day to throw the ball. With the Bills playing in a five man back field nickel package, there was nothing down field to throw to. Harrison was double teamed all game, and Terrence McGee played very strong man-to-man defense on Wayne. Manning was given the underneath throws, and had no pressure against a four man front. Manning took advantage and moved the chains. He was able to throw to Wayne on fade slant timing patterns, where his throw had to be perfect, and it was every time. Manning played a smart game, but it wasn’t anywhere near the explosive fireworks he is capable of.
|RB Joseph Addai, Rush: 13 - 78 - 1, Rec: 7 - 46 - 0 (8 targets)|
Once Rhodes brought the ball out of danger, Addai took over in Bills territory in every series. Addai was patient with the ball, and made good one move cut backs. The running lanes were bigger as the Bills played a four man front, and Addai took advantage. He made the most in the passing game catching seven of the eight balls thrown to him. This was a perfect game for Addai to excel in as passes to running backs went unchallenged and there was room to run from the line of scrimmage. Addai built up an even half of his rushing yards in the fourth quarter after Rhodes fumbled away the ball and didn’t take the field again. Addai lost a four yard carry on an illegal crack back penalty.
Rhodes carried the ball every time the Colts were deep in their own territory, which was every series due to Moorman’s booming punts. As soon as the Colts got to mid field, Rhodes was replaced by Addai every single time. Rhodes did not have a carry or target in Bills territory. Most of Rhodes’ carries were draw plays. Rhodes fumbled the ball away early in the fourth quarter, and never saw the field again as Addai took every snap left to finish out the game. Addai took six carries for 39 yards to finish out the game. Given the flow of the game, it is reasonable to assume that those carries might have gone to Rhodes had he not fumbled, giving him over 100 yards on the day (Using his average per carry). Rhodes lost a 12 yard reception on an illegal formation penalty.
As well as CB Terrence McGee was covering Wayne, it’s almost amazing that he caught a ball, much less every single ball thrown his way. Three of Wayne’s receptions were fade slant passes that had to be a perfect throw from Manning, and they were every time. Wayne was completely covered up for the game, and couldn’t find many ways to get clear of McGee’s physical play. Wayne’s touch down was an over the shoulder catch of a fade pass to the left side of the end zone with every other player on the right to clear out the area. The play was clearly a designed play to get Wayne the ball.
Harrison was double teamed all game as the Bills played nickel defense all game, allowing them to roll two defenders on Harrison at all times. The coverage was very tight, and Harrison was taken out of the game. Manning did look for Harrison as a first read in the two minute offense with 1:39 left in the half. Harrison was only targeted twice in the first half, as Manning couldn’t get a good look at him. He caught one ball in each half, but was targeted five times in the second half as Manning was trying to push the ball around.
Utecht was arguably the best offensive weapon for the Colts in the game. Given his size, and that the Bills were allowing short passes, Utecht was able to shine. Many plays were designed to go to him. A great example is the double screen that was run three times. The Colts would load to the right side for a screen to Clark; Manning would fake the pass, and go to Utecht on the left with a small screen set up. Utecht was able to use his body to pick up lots of underneath work. Utecht had the ball striped by OLB Angelo Crowell resulting in the McGee return for a touchdown.
As Clark is more of a stretch the offense type tight end, he was not as effective as Utecht on the game. Manning did take one deep strike to Clark, resulting in a 23 yard reception. Clark’s other two receptions were short underneath work. Clark was thrown to in the red zone, and had a ball slip through his hands on the four yard line that was then almost picked off.
Fletcher’s only reception came with 1:39 left in the half, and Manning was throwing the ball around to everyone attempting to score before they went into the locker room. His other target was at mid-field. Fletcher left to the locker room under his own power in the second half, but did not return to play.
Vinatieri made a 31 field goal attempt and converted two extra point attempts.
The Colts' rush defense allowed Anthony Thomas a lot of yards out in the center of the field as the Bills just kept pounding the ball. They stiffened up as the Bills would try and drive into scoring position. The Bills had 11 plays in the Colt’s red zone for a net negative eight yards.
The Colts came away with four sacks from great pressure. However, there wasn’t much passing offense from the Bills to stop. The Bills ran the ball 31 times compared to 14 pass attempts. Although he recorded his first sack on the year, DE Dwight Freeney was completely handled well by Jason Peters, and rarely applied any pressure.