'Smart and resilient' Peterman will battle for Bills starting quarterback job

Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane love the way Nathan Peterman has bounced back from the awful L.A. game

Sal Capaccio
July 22, 2018 - 9:21 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

Let’s do a little Buffalo Bills word association.

I’ll start.

"Nathan Peterman."

Chances are, you immediately thought of “five interceptions,” or some word or phrase that is reminiscent of that awful afternoon in Los Angeles last November.

Chances are also that you didn’t think of something that had to do with his other start. That one in December against the Indianapolis Colts. The one with all the snow. Remember that game? It was a must-win for the Bills if they had any hope of making the playoffs. And, sure, they caught a few breaks along the way to get into position to ultimately win it in overtime.

But before any of that could happen, Peterman, just three weeks removed from one of the worst quarterback starting debuts in NFL history, threw the team’s only touchdown pass of the day, starting for an injured Tyrod Taylor. It was an eight-yard fade to Kelvin Benjamin through the snow and wind with 31-seconds left before halftime.  

That play never even would’ve happened if Peterman didn’t connect with Benjamin on a crucial third down just one play before that. The Bills were at the Colts' 29-yard line facing a 3rd-and-seven. And with the conditions as they were and under a minute until the half, there’s almost no way head coach Sean McDermott would’ve elected to kick a 46-yard field goal. The rookie Peterman found Benjamin, who made a beautiful grab down the sideline, for a 21-yard gain, setting up the touchdown toss on the next play.

How Peterman handled himself in the weeks following the L.A. debacle didn’t go unnoticed by McDermott.  

"I think he's a very confident young man and he's resilient,” the head coach said. “You saw a guy who went through, who got knocked down hard. Not all on him, either, but the greatest thing about what Nathan did was he never pointed a finger and that says a lot, because it's hard. He could have easily said, 'Well, this guy, this happened.' And his next opportunity was the snow game."

On the second series of the third quarter of that December game in Orchard Park, Peterman took off on a run. He dove and was hit hard in the head by a Colts’ defender. He suffered a concussion and left the game, but did get credit for the win on the stat sheet. Along with the win, Peterman got plenty more credit from his head coach and general manager.
"No,” both responded immediately when asked together if Peterman gets enough credit for what he was able to do that game. "Nobody talks about that,” GM Brandon Beane said. “He made a great throw to Kelvin to get us the lead before half, which proved super important.” 

That resiliency, and Peterman’s intelligence, are both big parts of why the two men running the Bills are going to give the second-year signal caller from Pittsburgh a legitimate shot to win the starting quarterback job, beginning when training camp opens Thursday in Rochester.

“Nathan’s….super smart,” Beane said. “He's not going to tell you how good he is or how smart he is. He's just, he's Steady-Eddie every day and you love how he approaches the game. I know Sean's been there more than me, but even I've stopped in there a couple times when [offensive coordinator Brian] Daboll's had those guys in there and they're writing stuff on the board. He's playing Jeopardy with them. He's trying to just see what they know, and Nathan is really, really smart."
McDermott added his own observations. “He's a winner and I understand that [Chargers game] happened,” he said. “I acknowledge that, but that doesn't define someone. One game never defines someone, right? So the guy's a winner and that's probably the biggest thing that I could add. Yeah, you hope over the course of time that that'll come out, but his whole approach, as Brandon has mentioned, is what you want."


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