ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- With the turf at New Era Field covered in up to eight inches of snow and swirling flakes making passing almost impossible, LeSean McCoy was all the Buffalo Bills needed in an unforgettable 13-7 overtime win Sunday over the Indianapolis Colts.
McCoy rushed 32 times for 156 yards, but three runs of at least 20 yards were the difference in a game that felt like it was being played in slow motion -- or was it snow motion? -- because of an intense lake-effect system that struck less than an hour before kickoff.
"We kept saying it was like we were on a beach [in the sand]," wide receiver Deonte Thompson said. "The snow was so high so every time we stepped in it we would sink so it was tough to run a route.
"This is going to be something I tell my grandkids about. ... It was a crazy day today."
The snow reduced visibility early in the game so that players could not see from one end of the field to the other. There even was even "thundersnow" reported by meteorologists in the area.
"Twenty-some years around the NFL, I really haven't [seen anything like it]," Bills first-year coach Sean McDermott said. "I think we had all but sun today. We had some lightning, some thunder and a lot of snow and wind."
Thanks to McCoy, the Bills escape with a winning record, 7-6, in what could have been easily been a crushing a loss to the Colts, now 3-10. An interception thrown by emergency Bills quarterback Joe Webb gave Indianapolis a chance to win late in the fourth quarter, and McDermott's questionable decision to punt in overtime could have resulted in a tie and further buried the Bills' playoff hopes.
Instead, the Bills maintain a reasonable shot at the playoffs as they prepare to host the Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
A pair of McCoy runs, for 23 and 25 yards, led to an 8-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Nathan Peterman to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the first score for Benjamin since the Bills acquired him in an Oct. 31 trade. McCoy later ran 21 yards for the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in overtime.
McCoy's 156 rushing yards were the most of his Bills career and the sixth-most of his NFL career. His career high remains 217 yards in a snowy Eagles win in 2013 over the Detroit Lions.
"This game was a lot harder than the Philadelphia game," he said. "I think the biggest reason for that was that the snow never stopped and the wind never stopped. In the first half of the Philly game, it was crazy, but it stopped at halftime. We could run the ball a lot better. Where in this game, it continued to snow and snow and snow.
"I think this is probably the best [snow game], or the worst one."
Sunday marked Benjamin's first game since missing almost the past three with a knee injury, but he did not complete it unscathed. He left in the fourth quarter after injuring his knee diving for an incomplete pass. He re-entered the game and then limped off after another incompletion in his direction.
The injury to Benjamin came after the Bills lost Peterman to a head injury in the third quarter. The rookie made his second career start; he had a historically poor debut Nov. 19 against the Los Angeles Chargers when he threw five first-half interceptions before being pulled.
Attempting only 10 passes because of the conditions, Peterman was struck in the head by Colts linebacker Antonio Morrison on a 2-yard run, requiring trainers to assist the rookie to the sideline and later to the locker room.
With Tyrod Taylor inactive because of a bruised knee, dual quarterback-wide receiver Webb finished the game under center for Buffalo after Peterman exited. After Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri converted a 43-yard extra point (the result of a Colts penalty on what appeared to be a successful two-point conversion attempt) to tie the score late in the fourth quarter, Webb threw an interception that gave Indianapolis a chance to win. However, Vinatieri missed a 43-yard field goal.
In overtime, the Bills proved McDermott's decision to punt to the Colts was the right move. Buffalo's defense forced the Colts' offense off the field before Webb completed a 34-yard pass to Thompson to set the table for McCoy's game-winning touchdown.
"That was crazy man!" Benjamin said of Thompson's catch. "That boy was blazing in the snow! Caught them with a jet ski, it was like he was on a jet ski man! I've never seen anybody run that fast in the snow, that was crazy!"
The Bills still face an uphill battle to crack their 17-year playoff drought. The Chargers' win and the Baltimore Ravens' game later on Sunday will shape the Bills' postseason chances.
But in a game unlike any other in recent franchise history, Buffalo got the job done.
"A lot of things did go wrong, could go wrong," defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. "But to pull it out in basically a quagmire, this is a good thing."