Bills pay steep price in Indy for continual offensive woes

Buffalo Bills quarterback Derek Anderson (3) sits on the bench in the closing minutes of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Buffalo Bills thought Derek Anderson might be the solution to their offensive struggles. He wasn’t.

They tried putting offensive coordinator Brian Daboll on the field for the first time. It didn’t help.

Instead, the turnovers mounted, the scoring chances waned, and the Bills wound up talking about an all-too-familiar result Sunday: Indianapolis 37, Buffalo 5.

“I’m not going to pout about it. Like I said, I expect more from myself,” Anderson said after making his first start since December 2016. “I came here to help this team win football games in any way that I can. Obviously today I played and it wasn’t good enough.”

While Anderson understandably blamed himself after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble, which the Colts converted into 24 points, there was plenty of blame to go around.

The short-handed Bills (2-5) couldn’t sustain drives, were forced to throw out of desperation, and again failed to score a touchdown.

It was that kind of day for a team that started the season with bigger goals than just reaching the playoffs this year.

Now the Bills have lost two straight, three of four and are trying to figure out how in a high-scoring league they’ve managed to produce just two touchdowns and 31 points over their last four games. They have a league-low 81 points in seven games and showed no indication of breaking out of the funk against a defense that played without two starters and had allowed 117 points in its previous three games — against the Texans, Patriots and Jets.

“There were some moments out there where I thought he (Anderson) executed well, and then there were times out there where we didn’t execute well and turned it over,” coach Sean McDermott said. “We have to hit the reset button, look at the film and learn from it.”

And it could get worse.

The Bills had only four active receivers available after leaving Ray-Ray McCloud III at home for a “non-injury reason.”

Josh Allen’s injured right elbow gave McDermott only one other option at quarterback, turnover-prone Nathan Peterman, who was benched after last week’s loss.

Buffalo also lost LeSean McCoy to a head injury on the game’s second play and McDermott said it was unclear whether McCoy would be cleared through the concussion protocol in time for next Monday’s game against New England.

“It’s so different playing with the lead, we’ve said that. We’ve talked about it this week. Andrew (Luck) and I talked about it,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “We don’t want to be conservative. We want to still be aggressive, but let’s not do anything early and kind of blow things up.”

Indy executed its game plan perfectly, ending a four-game losing streak with its most lopsided win in five years.

And yet the Bills’ offense couldn’t even ding the Colts’ defense.

Buffalo never led Sunday and has rarely played with more than a one-score lead over the past month, prompting may to contemplate changes. Getting healthy might help. Consistency and reducing the turnovers certainly would.

While Luck finished 17 of 23 with 156 yards and four touchdown passes on a day Indy’s ground game churned out 220 yards, Anderson wound up 20 of 31 with 175 yards with no touchdowns and all those turnovers.

Kelvin Benjamin caught four passes for 71 yards, getting 32 on one play. No other receiver topped 25 yards as Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy tried valiantly to fill the void left by McCoy.

It wasn’t nearly enough.

“Those guys did a great job stepping in for LeSean,” Anderson said. “But as a whole, to kind of summarize it, we can’t turn the ball over. We have to execute. When we cross the 50, we have to get points.”


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