ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It didn't take Anthony Richardson long to learn the hard way how there may be limits to his exceptional ability at the NFL level.

The Colts rookie quarterback threw an interception and was unable to generate much offense with his legs either during Indianapolis’ preseason-opening 23-19 loss to the Buffalo Bills in an outing decided by the third-stringers on Saturday.

“Just find a way to manage it, instead of trying to force it and be Superman,” Richardson said, referring to his third attempt, an awkward side-armed throw that was easily intercepted by Dane Jackson.

The Bills, meantime, got an emotional boost with safety Damar Hamlin credited with three tackles over two-plus defensive series in his first competitive game since going into cardiac arrest and being resuscitated on the field during a game at Cincinnati on Jan. 2.

Hamlin showed no signs of hesitation and made a key impact on his fourth defensive snap by stopping running back Evan Hull for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Buffalo 40 to end the Colts’ second possession.

Trailing 13-10, the Bills went ahead for good with 6:11 left in the third quarter, when Matt Barkley hit Tyrell Shavers for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Shavers’ touchdown made up for his miscue earlier in the quarter when Kyle Allen’s pass tipped off his hands and led to Darius Rush’s 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Richardson, the No. 4 overall draft pick out of Florida and third quarterback selected in the draft, failed to quell questions about his accuracy over 13 college starts. He finished 7 of 12 for 67 yards and an interception and two carries for 7 yards.

First-year Colts coach Shane Steichen said he was impressed with Richardson’s poise despite his struggles.

“It’s a good learning experience,” Steichen said. “He bounced back. It was the first drive of the game, we get the pick there. And he comes back and we start moving the ball pretty good. He threw some nice touch passes. Good calm, had some good things, command in the huddle, all those good things.”

Richardson’s much-anticipated first start was overshadowed by the more experienced Gardner Minshew in an offseason-long quarterback competition.

Minshew, who is more familiar with Steichen’s offense, completed all six attempts for 72 yards. He also oversaw an 12-play, 88-yard scoring drive capped by Jake Funk’s 1-yard run to cut Buffalo’s lead to 10-7 in the final seconds of the first half.

With the notable exceptions of quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs, the Bills had most of their starters play the first quarter. Allen, signed this offseason to serve as Josh Allen’s backup, struggled in finishing 8 of 15 for 122 yards and an interception. Barkley finished 14 of 15 for 172 yards, including a 13-yard TD pass to Dezmon Patmon.

The backup quarterback competition deserves watching with coach Sean McDermott expressing concern over the offense's inconsistency, saying it ran hot and cold at times under Allen. He credited Barkley for being in rhythm and getting the ball out.

Barkley credited his outing with being more familiar with the Bills offense in having spent four of the past five seasons in Buffalo. Allen, by comparison, is still learning as an offseason free agent addition.

“I’m not gonna say how you’re gonna interpret something. But the fact is, I’ve been here longer so naturally, I’m going to have a better understanding of everything,” Barkley said. “All that to say, I think (Allen) has done a great job of coming in and learning everything that he can.”


Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard played the first two series in his return after the three-time All-Pro missed a majority of last season because of back surgery and a concussion. Leonard was not credited with a tackle a week after being cleared for contact.

“It was big,” Leonard said. “That’s one thing that I was kind of nervous about, going out there and playing against other people. Today was just another box that I can check off, that I can go out there confident, and be the best version of myself for this team.”


Colts: LB Segun Olubi did not return after sustaining a concussion.

Bills: OL Tommy Doyle was ruled out with a knee injury.


Colts: Host Chicago Bears on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Bills: At Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, Aug. 19.


AP freelance writer Jonah Bronstein contributed.


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