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A Blizzard Made the Unwatchable Colts-Bills Matchup Must-Watch TV

The rules of football met their breaking point under several inches of snow

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Bills-Colts game is how football is meant to be played.

Thanks to the lake-effect snow in Buffalo, this is what the game looks like on the CBS broadcast.


The result was the football equivalent of anarchy.

The Colts got the ball for their first possession of the game after a failed Bills fourth down attempt (True story: Bills quarterback Joe Webb lined up at quarterback with Bills “starter” Nathan Peterman at wide receiver on the play. Shockingly, Webb’s pass fell incomplete). After 11 consecutive runs and zero passes, the Colts drove to the Bills' 15-yard line, where they attempted a 33-yard field goal, the equivalent of an extra point. It didn’t go well.

There’s also this angle, which captures Adam Vinatieri's profound disappointment (and the hauntingly opaque sky).

When the greatest kicker in the history of the sport, who is also the best snow kicker ever, looks like an eighth grader, you know it’s going to be a great game. The basics of the sport—kicking, running in a straight line, even lining up onside—are suddenly thrilling to watch. Is Kelvin Benjamin offside in this picture, or not? We may never find out.

Punts looked like this, and the game only got loonier from there.

Down 7-0, the Colts got the ball with more than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Jacoby Brissett promptly engineered a 19-play, nine-minute-and-53-second drive that ended with a touchdown pass to tight end Jack Doyle to make the game 7-6. With Vinatieri already having missed an extra point–length kick, Colts coach Chuck Pagano opted to go for a two-point conversion that would likely decide the game, something coaches should do way more often, not just when the weather forces their hand.

Brissett faked a handoff and tossed a pass to Doyle, and the Colts ran off celebrating the 8-7 lead. But referees convened over a penalty flag (which may have been thrown during the play but lost in the snow) and called offensive pass interference on wide receiver Kamar Aiken.

Though the attempt was from 43 yards, Pagano opted for a PAT from Vinatieri. That led to a mad scramble by the Colts PAT unit to frantically clear the snow away from Vinatieri’s plant spot, which resembled a herd of caribou doing ballet.


With Vinatieri’s spot cleared (the sight of green grass was startling) the soon-to-be 45-year-old kicker kicked a curveball that broke perfectly into the uprights.

Vinatieri’s kick sliced in so dramatically and broke so late that Bills players were initially celebrating after the kick.

Two plays later, the Colts intercepted Webb in Bills territory and gave Vinatieri a shot at a 43-yard field goal with six seconds left and a chance to go down as the SOAT (Snowiest of All Time), but he missed. Overtime. Because this game deserved to be longer than 60 minutes.

Buffalo and Indianapolis exchanged punts, and the Bills got the ball with just over two minutes left to play. Deonte Thompson caught a 34-yard bomb (in these conditions, that’s a bomb) for his only catch of the day. That set up this play, which iced the game (I’m not sorry for that joke).

Play every game in a blizzard.