ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bills preseason win streak is still alive following a comeback win over the Colts, 27-24. It was perfect day for football at Highmark Stadium but the game was far from perfect. The Bills turned the ball over 5 times, committed 11 penalties for 90 yards and struggled in the redzone but there was plenty of good to take away from Saturday’s preseason game. Here are Josh Reed’s 4 observations:
The moment was not too big for the first-years players who got plenty of reps with the starters sidelined. Wide receiver Kahlil Shakir hauled in 5 catches for 92 yards. Linebacker Baylon Spector was all over the field making plays and led the team with 10 tackles. Fellow linebacker Terrel Bernard scooped up a fumble and returned it 69-yards for a touchdown. Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford were both solid on the back end. The punt god lived up to the hype… more on that below.
Josh Allen watched the game from the bench so it was the Case Keenum and Matt Barkley show. Keenum’s Bills debut didn’t go well. The veteran QB finished 11-18 for 86 yards, and 3 turnovers. It wasn’t all bad when you consider the Bills 2nd team offense was facing mostly starters. The Bills took the opening drive right down the field but stalled in the red zone and ended with a turnover on downs. Keenum’s a veteran backup and will be fine in his role but it wasn’t a good day at the office.
Punt God goes boom
It says a lot when one of the top 2-3 plays in the game came from a punter but here we are. The rookie, Matt Araiza hit a monster 82-yard punt late in the first half. The Bills were pinned deep in their own end, the Colts were getting the ball back with a chance to put more points on the board but Araiza drove a punt through the other end zone. The Colts took possession at the 20 yard line and the half came to an uneventful end. There was some concern with Araiza’s lack of holding experience but things went smooth on a Tyler Bass 48-yard field goal and an extra point. It was a good day for the punt god. The veteran Matt Haack had one punt for 38 yards that was downed at the 12 yard line.
The Bills backup defense faced the Colts starting offense (RB Jonathon Taylor didn’t play), including Matt Ryan, and held their own. Matt Ryan and Indy’s first team were on the field four drives and only managed three points. The Bills defense was also very good in the red zone. The Colts took over possession at the 10 yard line following a Bills turnover and the defense held Indy to three points. “Boogie” Basham and Terrel Bernard supplied one of the few big plays in the game. Basham sacked Nick Foles, forced a fumble, Bernard scooped it and sprinted 69 yards for a touchdown. The Bills defense was able to get consistent pressure on Colts QBs and finished with four sacks.
Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more of his work here.