It wasn’t the prettiest football game you’ll ever see in Indianapolis on Sunday, but the Colts didn’t need style points to improve their chances of making the playoffs this season.
They needed a victory and they got just that. They beat the Bills 20-13 to improve to 7-4 in the season and leave themselves in strong position as the AFC playoff picture continues to take shape. There wasn’t much of the sizzling Andrew Luck we’ve seen at other points this season, but there also wasn’t any of the guy whose interceptions fueled an ugly loss to the Patriots last weekend.
Luck completed 20-of-37 passes for 240 yards on the day. Eight of those passes went to Reggie Wayne, who also drew a crucial pass interference penalty on Bills rookie corner Stephon Gilmore to help run out the clock at the end of the fourth quarter. Another one of Luck’s completions was to T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown in the third quarter, giving Hilton a touchdown catch to go with his 75-yard punt return score in the first half.
The touchdown drive in the third quarter featured Luck at his best as he completed six-of-nine passes and converted three third downs to keep the team rolling toward the end zone. Those moments are what lingers as the memory of Luck from the game. While they were less efficient than you’d like to see, he made enough of the big plays to keep drives alive to assure the Colts of a victory.
It wasn’t flashy, which also goes for the team’s defense. It was the best performance of the year for the unit, although it was short on takeaways (one interception which safety Tom Zbikowski fumbled right back to Buffalo) and other explosive plays. They gave up some plays that moved Buffalo down the field, but the red zone was kept under tight wraps on Sunday.
There aren’t any realistic playoff dreams left in Buffalo these days. C.J. Spiller ran for 107 yards on 14 carries, including a 41-yarder to set up Buffalo’s only touchdown of the day, but Ryan Fitzpatrick hit on just 17-of-33 passes for 180 yards to keep the team from taking advantage of several chances handed to them by a game defense. Mario Williams had three sacks, Justin Rogers had an interception and the Colts offense scored only 13 points. The Bills weren’t able to generate enough points, though, and that’s become a broken record in the wake of Bills games this season.