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By Lacey Gardner

Pollock: Buffalo Bills’ preseason win; where were the TE’s? QB battle for No. 2; announcer errors

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By CHUCK POLLOCK

That’s why they play these exhibitions.

Every year there’s discussion about how many preseason games National Football League teams should play.

Back in 1974 it was six, but the Bills played SEVEN — owing to their appearance in the Hall of Fame Game — before a 14-game regular-season schedule.

Eventually that number shrunk to four and, two years ago it dropped to the current three.

And that seems to be about right given what happened Saturday afternoon at Highmark Stadium as Buffalo held off the Colts, 23-19, in a less-than-artistic performance by both teams. There were two touchdowns on interceptions, a pair of missed extra-point kicks, a botched 28-yard field goal and a handful of dropped passes. 

But the real point was,  the Bills certainly need more assessment time  than they’ll get from one game.

It was head coach Sean McDermott’s first opportunity calling defensive signals and, at first look, it seemed to go relatively seamlessly.

Still, he admitted, “We didn’t meet the standard we hold ourselves to … we’ve got to be more consistent starting with penalties .. pre-snap penalties because it hurts your field position and when you have a team in second-and-long. But there were also moments where we did some good things … I liked how we ended the game with a four-minute drive.”

As for calling the defensive plays he admitted, “It was fun … being out there and rolling up my sleeves a little bit. We’re still working through the communication part but a preseason game is a little different than a regular-season game. We’ll go back and evaluate that and talk about some areas we’ve got to improve on. It’s just getting on the same page and where I’m going to be in certain spots and when I need information at times and making sure it’s available when I need it because I’m back-and-forth between series.”

But he surely wasn’t satisfied with his ‘D.’

Buffalo’s defense was called for six of the eight penalties that were marked off, five of them in the first half when the first and second-stringers were playing, a seventh was declined.

Three of the infractions were offsides, a particular pet peeve of McDermott. There were also a trio of pass interference calls plus a too-many-players-on-the-field call against the special teams.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS from the victory:

TIGHT ENDS MIA

Incredibly, the Bills, in 30 completions, not a single one went to a tight end. Indeed, the only one even targeted was third-stringer Quintin Morris. Starter Dawson Knox and first-round draft choice Dalton Kincaid saw a few snaps, but backup quarterback Kyle Allen never looked their way.

BATTLE FOR NO. 2 QB?

Allen has struggled most of camp and wasn’t impressive against the Colts. In a half, plus one series, he was 8-of-15 for 122 yards with an interception that was returned for a TD though it wasn’t his fault as it glanced off the hands of Tyrell Shaver.

Meanwhile, No. 3 QB Matt Barkley was a glittering 14-of-15  for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

And though the assumption was the backup role belonged to Allen, McDermott indicated it was an “open competition.”

Asked about the play of his QBs, he said, “It was up-and-down at times …  we stalled out and more than anything weren’t productive enough on early downs in the first half. In the second half, I felt we were a bit better, moving the ball on a more consistent basis … Matt getting the ball out. I thought he got into a good rhythm.”

RESERVE WIDEOUTS SHINE

With Stefon Diggs not playing and No. 2 wide receiver Gabriel Davis getting only a few snaps, five players battling to be the fifth or sixth wideout … stood out. Kee Sean Johnson and Andy Isabella each caught three balls for 42 yards, Marcell Ateman two for 41, Dezmon Patmon three for 35 and a touchdown and Shavers two for 38 and a TD.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

It was an uneven day for Shavers who had the ball glance off his hands for a pick-six, then made up for it with the TD reception. He also dropped a ball but then made a tough catch.

ANNOUNCER OOPS

Normally solid play-by-play man Andrew Catalon, late in the game, complimented the Colts for going for a two-point conversion and eliminating the possibility of overtime. Analyst Steve Tasker agreed.

Of course, preseason overtime was abolished two years ago, which Catalon and Tasker acknowledged a few minutes later.

The same thing happened to the announcers doing the Cardinals-Broncos game the night before.

It’s a surprise veteran announcers would make that mistake.

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

See past columns from Chuck:

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