One week after dismantling the New York Jets 45-17, it seemed like the Buffalo Bills had turned a corner. But on Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts punched Buffalo in the gut, avenging their 2020 Wild Card loss in a 41-15 rout. The loss drops the Bills to 6-4 for the season, behind the 7-4 New England Patriots in the AFC East, while falling from the No. 2 seed to the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the game.
Defense has no answer for Jonathan Taylor
With Derrick Henry sidelined for the season, Jonathan Taylor has staked his claim as the NFL’s premier running back. Without starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (COVID-19) and middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (hamstring), Buffalo’s defense had no answer for the Colts’ rushing attack. Taylor ran wild, tallying 185 yards and four rushing touchdowns on 32 carries, adding 19 yards and a receiving score as well. He became the 13th player in NFL history to score five touchdowns in a game.
The Bills surrendered 264 total rushing yards, and despite their defensive success for the majority of the season, two questionable performances against the only two teams they’ve faced with legitimate rushing attacks (Indianapolis, Tennesse) are bringing on serious concerns regarding the team’s upcoming stretch of games.
Matt Breida making strong case for starting RB gig
After scoring twice in his season debut last week, Matt Breida once again was a bright spot in an otherwise lethargic Buffalo run game. Breida rushed for 51 yards on five carries, including a 28-yard scamper on a pin-and-pull during the third quarter. He also added one catch for 16 yards.
The Bills were trailing for the entire game, so there weren’t many opportunities to run the ball, but Breida clearly brings juice and speed that neither Devin Singletary or Zack Moss provide. Singletary, Moss and Josh Allen combined for 40 rushing yards on eight carries. Going forward into a tough stretch of games, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll needs to make sure Breida sees significant touches.
Special teams weren’t special
Buffalo takes pride in their special teams, but there were a handful of blunders in that area on Sunday. Kicker Tyler Bass, who entered the game with just one missed field goal all season, missed two kicks against the Colts. Weather played a factor, but it was a discouraging performance from one of the most promising young players on the roster.
More concerning, was Isaiah McKenzie’s fumble. Down 17-7 in the second quarter, McKenzie fielded a kickoff but tripped and fell, losing the ball in the process. Indianapolis recovered and Jonathan Taylor punched it in for a touchdown on the next play, putting the game out of reach. McKenzie has been dynamic as a returner, but ball security is an issue. With Marquez Stevenson on the roster, it’s fair to question whether the Bills give their rookie a shot as the returner.