Nathan Peterman's first start was one of the all-time great terrible NFL debuts

The Bills quarterback started his first game after a solid appearance in relief ... and threw five picks. But some of the best struggled when they first stepped up

The Bills quarterback started his first game after a solid appearance in relief ... and threw five picks. But some of the best struggled when they first stepped up

Troy Aikman, another Hall of Famer with multiple Super Bowl wins, completed only seven passes in the first game of a first season in which he lost all 11 of his starts.

“Peyton had some difficulties,” Bill Polian, the Colts general manager who drafted Manning once told me. “Every rookie quarterback does in terms of getting used to the speed of the game and sophistication of the defenses and chemistry of working with the receivers. That was to be expected.”

Not surprisingly, Peterman didn’t have a second half, replaced by the man he was supposed to have made irrelevant, Tyrod Taylor.

Peterman’s start was perplexing to many around football, who noted that Buffalo actually came into the game with a 5-4 record and legitimate playoff hopes. It seemed an odd time to suddenly start a first-year quarterback who wasn’t even chosen until the fifth round of last spring’s draft. But Peterman had played well in replacing Taylor during a blowout loss to New Orleans last week and Buffalo’s rookie head coach, Sean McDermott, believed it was Peterman’s time to step up.

“He looks sharp and crisp,” McDermott told reporters late last week before the team left for California.

McDermott showed remarkable restraint in leaving Peterman in as long as he did. Most coaches would have throw away their headsets and padlocked their quarterback to the bench after the second or the third interceptions – let alone the fifth. But McDermott appears especially attached to Peterman. Like many coaches new to a team (he had been the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia and Carolina) he wants his own quarterback, not someone he has inherited. Taylor is a player he was stuck with. Peterman is one he helped choose.

Which is why McDermott didn’t blast his quarterback after the game nor announce Peterman will go back to the bench. In fact, he sounded like he might actually be thinking of starting the hapless Peterman again next week.

“The decision was not about winning now but about the future,” McDermott said in his postgame press conference about the choice to start Peterman.

Maybe, though, he will be fortunate. Maybe like Bradshaw, Aikman and Manning, a superstar looms below the Bills jersey. Maybe, Nathan Peterman will win Super Bowls.

“I’m going to learn a lot from this and make sure it never happens again,” Peterson told reporters after the game.

But how often does Fitzpatrick get to be anybody’s player of the week? And quite frankly, he is as almost as deserving as the others. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Fine numbers indeed. He also led the Buccaneers to a 30-20 victory at Miami. Given Fitzpatrick is on his seventh team and hadn’t been this precise in some time (he had 290 yards but with two interceptions in October) he seems a fine choice.

This was horrible to watch and not just because a player had his leg crushed, but because Washington running back Chris Thompson is a fun guy to watch and was turning into a versatile offensive threat. He came into Sunday averaging 4.6 yards a rush and had 38 receptions and was a reason Washington believed they could still make the playoffs.

For a while on Sunday, Washington rallied behind their fallen player, converting a gutsy fake punt deep in their own territory right after he went down. But they were unable to hold a two-touchdown lead late in the game and were destroyed by the Saints’ Brees who completed 11 straight passes in two touchdown drives to tie the game just before the end of regulation. Brees led one last scoring drive early in overtime, leading to the field goal that beat Washington 34-31.

The game might actually have been won last week. Rather than fly to Mexico a day or two before the game as teams traditionally do on road trips, Belichick had the team practice at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is 6,000 feet above sea level to prepare for Mexico City which is over 7,000 feet up. Belichick even wore an Air Force hoodie to his post-game press conference, a startling move given he was practically raised in the shadow of the Navy academy, where his father was a scout.

--Houston’s Tom Savage threw for 235 yards and running back D’Onta Foreman ran for two scores as the Titans beat Arizona 31-21, crippling any hopes the Cardinals had of remaining in the playoff picture.

--The Giants, who have looked miserable this season, managed to make Kansas City look woeful with three interceptions in a 12-9 overtime victory at home. The Chiefs, who looked like Super Bowl contenders early in the season, have now lost four of their last five games.

--One team who have managed to maintain the pace are Minnesota. They stifled the Rams’ surge, holding Los Angeles’s powerful offense to just 254 yards in a 24-7 victory that pushed the Vikings to 8-2.

 

November 20, 2017

Sources:` The Guardian

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