The Bills made a curious decision earlier this week when they benched quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nathan Peterman. The team made a much more sensible decision at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Chargers, when it benched Peterman after the rookie threw a whopping five interceptions.
In one of the worst starting debuts in NFL history, Peterman’s five picks came on just 14 attempts, while he managed six completions to his own team, for 66 yards and no touchdowns. All that ineptitude left him with a passer rating for the game of 17.9; by comparison, if Peterman had simply thrown his 14 passes straight into the ground, his rating would have been 39.6.
The ugliness began early for the fifth-rounder out of Pittsburgh, who actually completed his first two passes. Peterman’s third, though, was intercepted by Los Angeles’s Korey Toomer and returned 59 yards for a touchdown. It was all downhill from there, as Peterman was also intercepted by the Chargers’ Tre Boston and Trevor Williams and twice by Casey Hayward.
All the while, many observers online took the opportunity to note that, for all of Taylor’s shortcomings, real and perceived, he has always been very good at protecting the football. In fact, his career interception percentage of 1.4 is the best all-time for NFL quarterbacks with at least 1,000 pass attempts.
When the Bills got the ball for the first time in the second half, Taylor came onto the field. It was a well-deserved benching for Peterman, and in some ways a merciful one, as the rookie must have had his confidence rattled and was a threat to equal the NFL record of eight interceptions in one game, set by the Chicago Cardinals’ Jim Hardy in 1950.
Taylor also came into a game that the Chargers led 40-7, thanks in large part to Peterman’s generosity, leaving Buffalo in position to fall to 5-5 on the season after a 5-2 start. While Taylor had played poorly in the team’s past two losses, he had also helped the Bills get into playoff position at 5-4, one of just six AFC teams with a winning record at that point.
That was no small feat, considering that Buffalo has not made a postseason appearance since 1999, giving it the longest postseason drought in all of the four major U.S. sports leagues. At this point, though, the question for the team is not so much about the playoffs as about its next game and who will start at quarterback.
It seems evident that Taylor should get his starting job back in Week 12, when the Bills visit Kansas City. Meanwhile, Peterman, who was solid in relief of Taylor last week, completing 7 of 10 passes for 79 yards and a score, can only ponder how his first start went so, so wrong.
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