Bills' mistakes kill in 19-7 loss to Indy

Mike Vanderjagt kicked four field goals and Kevin McDougal ran for a one-yard touchdown as the Indianapolis Colts beat the Bills 19-7 at the Indianapolis RCA Dome Saturday night. Buffalo dropped to 0-3 in the preseason. Here is a look at the key issues.

Special teams mixed

The Bills' special teams did their best Ronnie Jones special teams imitation as they gave up an 81-yard kickoff return to Troy Walters right off the opening kickoff, which set up the Colts' first touchdown. Walters stormed up the middle and broke down the right sideline. Charlie Rogers chased him down from behind and tackled him at the Buffalo 14. Andre Rone missed a tackle toward the end of the play, and a bunch of Bills missed tackles at the beginning. The coverage team didn't do a good job of staying in its lanes.

The Bills were also burned on a fake punt during a fourth and 22 in the third quarter. Colts punter Hunter Smith faked a throw then took off down the left sideline for a 31-yard gain. He was all alone during most of the run, just as Peyton Manning was on his bootleg touchdown in Orchard Park last season. Smith's run should never have gone for that long. It was embarrassing.

The Bills' special teamers did make a good play in the first quarter when Chris Watson, covering a punt, stripped Walters at the Colts' 17 and recovered the fumble. Three plays later the Bills scored, making it 10-7.

Penalties hurt

The Bills were penalized 16 times for 97 yards. Buffalo needs better discipline than that.

On the Colts' first drive of the game, they faced a second and 1 from the Bills' 1. Buffalo proceeded to get called for three defensive penalties each time Peyton Manning tried to run the play. The culprits: Strongside linebacker Keith Newman (holding), left end Kendrick Office (offside) and under tackle Ron Edwards (offside). Finally, Colts running back Kevin McDougal, filling in for the injured Edgerrin James, ran it in for a one-yard touchdown up the middle and a 7-0 Colts lead.

On the Colts' last drive of the first half, left end Ryan Denney was called for a 15-yard personal foul for nailing Peyton Manning after the quarterback threw an incomplete pass. Instead of third and 5 at the Bills' 37, it was first and 10 at the Bills' 22. Then three plays later, on third and 9, Manning threw an incomplete pass to Marvin Harrison in the end zone, but free safety Pierson Prioleau was called for unnecessary roughness after a late hit on the Colts' receiver. Still, Buffalo held Indy to only a field goal and a 13-7 halftime lead.

Offensively, during the first half, Buffalo was called for four holding penalties: two on left guard Ruben Brown, one on right guard Marques Sullivan and one on Peerless Price. As a result, the Bills were forced to punt on two of the drives and they turned the ball over on downs during another.

Brown's penchant for holding is starting to become a danger sign for the Pro Bowl guard,

Bills create pressure some pressure, stop run

When the Bills have their front four in there, they are not going to get much pressure on the quarterback. They're just not that talented. Buffalo is going to have create a pass rush with a linebacker or defensive back rushing on most pass plays.

The Bills had one sack for a six-yard loss. Ryan Denney was credited with it, but Keith Newman and Eddie Robinson blitzed from the outside. The Bills were in a three-man front. And that seemed to puzzle the Colts' line.

As for stopping the run, which Buffalo has had problems doing this preseason, they did it this time, limiting Indianapolis to 50 yards on 22 carries. Of course, the Bills were daring Peyton Manning to throw, particularly because they would play eight in the box all the time, and Manning will audible to high percentage plays on such occasions. Naturally, they were mostly passing plays. Manning finished the night 12 for 23 for 104 yards.

What is troubling is that, the Bills defense could only force one turnover. It needs more if it is to be successful.

Offensive line mixed, run game struggles

Right tackle Mike Williams had some problems protecting Drew Bledsoe. He gave up two sacks: one to strongside linebacker Marcus Washington and the other to left end Brad Scioli. Left tackle Marcus Price gave up the other one.

Still Bledsoe managed to have an OK night, going 10 for 20 for 109 yards with one touchdown, and one interception.

The Colts rarely sent more than four players to rush the passer. When they did, and when they threw in a stunt, it confused the Bills' line and created some assignment problems. Buffalo is going to see a whole lot more stunting when the regular season gets underway. Hopefully, the young line will have worked those things out.

The run game was pretty much non-existent. Buffalo produced 40 yards on 19 attempts, with nearly half of those coming on a 17-yard Travis Henry sweep left. After that, it was brutal: 23 yards on 18 attempts. Brutal.

Receivers have to be pumped

This year's Bills offense under Kevin Gilbride shows no signs of having its wide receivers disappear for games at a time, as what often happened in Mike Sheppard's system. Perhaps Sheppard simply didn't have the benefit of Drew Bledsoe, a player who seems to be light years ahead of Rob Johnson just in terms of understanding how to execute plays within an offense.

Bledsoe has done a good job spreading the ball around.

Eric Moulds caught five passes for 64 yards. A particular favorite of Bledsoe's seems to be hitting Moulds right off the line of scrimmage, to give the veteran receiver a chance to beat the corner and pick up five to seven yards.

Josh Reed caught six passes for 58 yards, including a three-yard touchdown in which Bledsoe threaded the ball through three Colts defenders, finding Reed on an in-route in the back of the end zone.

And Peerless Price caught three balls for 36 yards. On one play, Price went high to make a grab and landed on his back after Colts cornerback David Macklin flipped him over. It still was good for 17 yards. Price was slow getting up, but eventually went back in the game.


UT Tyrone Robertson – Recorded three tackles.


P Brian Moorman – Too inconsistent.

NT Ron Edwards – Doesn't hold up at the point of attack. Gets pushed back on some run plays; can't fight off double teams.

LE Kendrick Office – Offside penalty.

UT Justin Bannan – Offside penalty.

LE Ryan Denney – Needless roughing the passer penalty. Led to a field goal.

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