BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Bills lost 27-24 to the Cincinnati Bengals in overtime on Sunday to fall to 2-4. Not many people expected the Bills to give the Bengals a game, but Thad Lewis almost helped Buffalo pull off the upset. The Bills came back late in the game with a 40 yard touchdown reception from Lewis to Marquise Goodwin, but in overtime the team couldn’t move the ball deep into their own territory. This led to a nice punt return from the Bengals which effectively put them into field goal range instantly.
It’s always hard to find silver linings in losses, but Buffalo nearly pulled off an upset with a quarterback that was on their practice squad one week ago. Lewis showed excellent touch on his deep passes today. He found T.J. Graham for a 47 yard reception, Marquise Goodwin for 40 yards and placed a ball where it needed to be deep to Goodwin earlier in the game. A blatant pass interference that wasn’t called prevented the catch from being made. Lewis only made one mistake in the game, a fumble as he was scrambling wildly. Overall, Bills fans should be thrilled with Lewis’ performance.
In the run game, C.J. Spiller averaged 5.5 yards per carry but was out for much of the second half with an injury. Fred Jackson was held to 35 yards on ten carries. The Bengals have an impressive defense and being held in check in the run game should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Defensively, the Bills struggled to stop the Bengals early in the game. BenJarvis Green-Ellis had 86 yards on 18 carries and Gio Bernard was effective in the passing game (6 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown). Buffalo did cause one turnover, a Jim Leonhard interception in the first half. In the second half, Buffalo made adjustments and only held the Bengals to seven points.
The most talked about play this week will be Buffalo going for it on the Bengals one-yard line in the first half. Instead of going for a chip shot field goal, Buffalo attempted to punch it in for a touchdown. The play call was questionable, a Thad Lewis roll out. The play resulted in a sack for a loss of one yard and a big swing in momentum. No one truly knows if a Carpenter kick there would have won the game for Buffalo, but it’s going to be discussed a lot this week in local media.
Keep an eye out for Dan Hope’s thoughts on the game later today!
Mike Nugent wins the game with a 43 yard field goal.
The defense holds the Bengals on third and five but Mike Nugent has a chance to win the game here with a field goal.
3rd and 5 for the Bengals here.
The Bengals are already in field goal range, but the Bills need to stop the Bengals from making the kick any easier.
The Bengals have the ball on Buffalo’s 33 yard line following a Bills punt.
Where is the penalty on the Bengals? A Bills player was tackled from behind before the Bengals even received the punt.
The Bills will be forced to punt deep into their own territory. The Bengals will have excellent field position and the next score wins the game.
The Bills need a first down here.
The Bills run the ball on first and 13. It’s now 2nd and 10.
Buffalo takes over on its own 7 yard line.
The Bengals play it safe and punt it on 4th and 6 rather than going for a 56 yard field goal to take the lead.
It’s 4th and 5 from Buffalo’s 37 yard line.
The Bills stop the Bengals on third down.
Marcell Dareus with a big sack on 2nd down.
The Bengals have the ball in Bills territory, but only a touchdown wins the game.
How many times is the swing pass going to kill the Bills?
The Bengals pick up a first down with a gain of 10 yards.
The Bengals pick up 12 yards on 1st and 20.
An offensive pass interference penalty moves the Bengals back 10 yards on first down.
The Bengals take over on their own 23 yard line to start overtime.
The Bengals win the coin toss and will receive the ball. If the Bengals score a touchdown on their drive the game is over. A field goal would give the Bills the ball back.
We’re heading to overtime!
Buffalo should take a knee here and go to overtime.
The A.J. Green catch is under review but his first foot looked out of bounds.
The Bills have forced the Bengals to punt. There’s 19 seconds remaining in the game.
A sack there would have likely sent the game to overtime. Instead Dalton throws the ball away.
Correction: Bengals 42 yard line.
It’s 2nd and 15 with 31 seconds remaining. Cincinnati has the ball on their own 42.
Kiko Alonso stops Gio Bernard for a loss on a screen pass.
Marvin Jones is having one of the best games of his career.
The Bengals have 1:01 remaining and take over on their own 28 yard line.
We’re tied at 24! Buffalo needs to stop the Bengals with 1:08 remaining.
Thad Lewis hits Marquise Goodwin on a 40 yard bomb for a touchdown!
A tipped pass on first down on an attempted pass to Scott Chandler.
First down Bills! Fred Jackson gains seven yards on 3rd and 6. An injury to Vontaze Burfict stops the clock with 1:46 remaining.
It’ll be 3rd and 6 after Thad Lewis gets sacked by Carlos Dunlap.
The Bills have 2:40 remaining to tie the game.
The Bengals will punt the ball on 4th and 1 with 3:03 remaining.
Buffalo stops the Bengals on third and one with just over three minutes remaining.
It’ll be 3rd and 1 for the Bengals.
Green-Ellis picks up the first down on third and short.
Andy Dalton throws the ball away on 2nd and 1. A big 3rd down here.
A.J. Green with a 9 yard reception on first down.
Cincinnati takes over on their own 26 yard line with 6:03 left in the game.
Thad Lewis scrambles for three and will be forced to punt. A three and out for the Bills.
Chris Hogan picks up 2 yards on second down. Third and eight for the Bills.
Thad Lewis throws an incomplete pass on first down.
Thad Lewis’ stats don’t show how solid he’s been today for the Bills. With 7:13 remaining the Bills have a chance to tie the game.
The Bills hold the Bengals and Cincinnati will punt.
Branch with another huge hit. Third and 12 for the Bengals.
Alan Branch tackles Gio Bernard for a loss of 2 yards on 1st and 10.
Nickell Robey gets called for defensive holding but the flag came late. The Bengals keep the ball.
The Bengals face a third and 7.
Bengals 24 – Bills 17
Thad Lewis finds Scott Chandler wide open in the middle of the field for a 22 yard touchdown reception. With 10:13 remaining, there’s still plenty of time but Buffalo’s defense needs another stop here.
Thad Lewis finds Scott Chandler wide open in the middle of the field on 4th and 8 for a touchdown!
4th and 8 for the Bills here following a Fred Jackson reception.
C.J. Spiller was injured earlier in the game as he hasn’t returned following his 19 yard run.
Buffalo faces a 3rd and 17 following a sack and incomplete pass.
Marquise Goodwin gets a 12 yard gain on first down.
Fred Jackson picks up the first down on third and short.
T.J. Graham gets a 9 yard reception on first down.
Buffalo will take over on the Bengals’ 45 yard line with 12:46 remaining in the game.
Buffalo stops the Bengals deep in their own territory and should have excellent field position.
It’s 3rd and 13 after Kiko Alonso stops Green-Ellis on the one yard line.
Buffalo saw the short pass coming from Dalton and cause a two yard loss. It’s 2nd and 12 from the 3 yard line.
Buffalo will great special teams after Adam Jones bobbles the ball a few times.
The Bengals lead 24-10 after three quarters. The Bills will be punting to start the fourth quarter.
A bad pass by Thad Lewis to Tashard Choice there. Behind the running back.
T.J. Graham picks up a first down. Graham is a frustrating receiver. He’ll make nice catches and then bobble the ball the next time you throw to him.
Mike Nugent misses a 34 yard field goal with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter. Buffalo needs to score some points on this drive.
Buffalo stops the Bengals on third and goal and the Bengals have set themselves up for a short field goal.
Third and goal for the Bengals here.
The story of the Bills season: They can’t stop anyone on 3rd or 4th and long. Dane Sanzenbacher pulls in a 23 yard reception to move the chains.
The Bengals have decided to go for it on 4th and 15 here.
Da’Norris Searcy sacks Dalton on third and five. The Bengals will attempt a field goal.
BenJarvis Green Ellis is averaging over 6 yards per carry today. Not good for Buffalo’s run defense.
Gilmore is injured, but you cannot give your receiver that much of a cushion.
Bengals pick up 10 on 2nd and 11 and Dalton moves the chains on third and short with a QB run.
How Buffalo hasn’t learned to cover this swing pass today is beyond me.
Buffalo’s run defense has really struggled today against Cincinnati.
The Bengals take over on their own 29 yard line following a Moorman punt and illegal block penalty on Marvin Jones.
Thad Lewis threw a beautiful deep call to Marquise Goodwin, but Adam Jones held Goodwin and helped cause the incompletion. There was no pass interference penalty called. Thad Lewis gets sacked on third down and Moorman punts from his end zone.
Marquise Goodwin returns to the ball to Buffalo’s 17 yard line following a 20 yard kick return. Buffalo needs an answer here.
A Marquise Goodwin kick return would be swell here.
Bengals 24 – Bills 10
Marvin Jones is having himself a game against the Bills. Dalton finds Jones in the endzone for a 10 yard touchdown pass. Thad Lewis’ fumble turns out to be costly.
Jerry Hughes breaks up a pass to cause a 3rd and 8.
Kyle Williams gets penalized for taunting in a very questionable call.
Buffalo’s defense has been very disappointing today.
In injury news, Manny Lawson is out for the game following a hand injury.
The Bengals pick up a first down on another screen pass.
McKelvin sniffs out a Green screen, but the wide receiver picks up two yards.
A.J. Green was thinking about what he was going to do after the play and he drops a pass.
Thad Lewis was a little too cute with the ball on 3rd and 6 and he fumbled the ball. Vontaze Burfict recovered the ball on the Cincinnati 47 yard line.
Spiller looked to be in pain following a 19 yard run.
Lewis has a solid arm and throws one off of Robert Woods’ hands. The pass was behind Woods for what it’s worth.
Editor’s Halftime Thoughts:
Most of the first half of today’s game wasn’t what I expected for the Bills. That’s good news for the offense, but bad news for the defense. That said, the offense started to look more like the out-of-rhythm unit of usual by the end of the first half, while the defense made a big turnaround to keep the Bills from falling into a two-score hole.
Unexpectedly, practice squad promotion Thad Lewis gave the Bills offense an immediate spark at quarterback. Given the circumstances, Lewis played about as well in the first half as the Bills could have asked. He had a fantastic first drive, completing a 47-yard deep ball to T.J. Graham and finishing the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. He goes into halftime having converted 8-of-11 first-half passes, but has not made any big passing plays since the first drive, finishing the half with just 67 passing yards.
The Bills trail by seven at the half, but this could be a very different game if not for a putrid showing from the Bills goal-to-go offense on their second drive. The Bills had 1st-and-goal at the 2-yard line, but after running back Fred Jackson was stopped on three consecutive rushing plays, a Lewis bootleg on 4th-and-goal lost yardage, and the Bills were held with no points where they should have had seven. The Bills also missed a big opportunity later in the half off an interception return in opposing territory by safety Jim Leonhard, as they failed to take advantage of field position by losing 10 yards in the drive’s first two plays and being forced to punt.
The defense, on the other hand, was expected to be at its best today with the returns of cornerback Stephon Gilmore and free safety Jairus Byrd to the lineup. Instead, the defense has struggled. They have not been beaten over the top as they had in previous games without their top defensive backs on the field, but have instead been beaten time and time again by short passes turning into big gains, including a 55-yard catch-and-run by A.J. Green, a 42-yard catch-and-run by Marvin Jones and a 20-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Gio Bernard on which he made at least three Bills defenders miss tackles.
The Bills defense finally made a big play late in the half with Leonhard’s interception, but their first-half performance, in which they conceded points on each of their first three series and 284 combined yards between their first four series, is completely unacceptable. Mike Pettine’s pressure-based scheme has not been able to bring any significant pressure today, rookie phenom linebacker Kiko Alonso has struggled significantly for the first time this season and the unit as a whole has suffered from very poor tackling.
Buffalo will receive the ball to start the third quarter down seven points. Thad Lewis and the Bills offense has played very well against a tough Bengals defense.
Andy Dalton almost just kneeled the ball in the end zone. Dangerous play there.
What a punt by Brian Moorman. The refs ruled the kick a touchback, but it looks at though it went out around the two yard line.
The Bills have run plenty of screens today and Burfict sniffs one out for a negative three yard gain. Peko sacks Lewis on second down and now face third and long.
Jim Leonhard intercepts Andy Dalton on 3rd and 7. Leonhard returned the ball to the Bengals’ 38 yard line. There’s 1:44 remaining in the first half.
With a 1:54 remaining, the Bills defense has the Bengals in a 3rd and 7 situation.
We’ve reached the two-minute warning with the Bengals once again driving the ball down the field on the Bills. The Bengals currently have the ball on Buffalo’s 27 yard line.
Missing: The Buffalo Bills defense. Please call Ralph Wilson Stadium if found.
Buffalo’s defense needs to step up here and stop the Bengals from scoring on this drive.
Bengals 17 – Bills 10
Dan Carpenter kicks a 51 yard field goal to cut the Bengals’ lead to seven points. Thad Lewis has truly been outstanding today against the Bengals.
Chris Hogan drops a ball off of his hands and the Bills are set up for a long field goal attempt.
T.J. Graham catches the ball to move the chains and a questionable personal foul penalty against Burfict gives the Bills an additional 15 yards.
Thad Lewis rolls out to the right and finds Robert Woods for a short gain to move the chains.
The Bills’ offensive game plan has been solid today. Minus the 4th and goal call, I really like Hackett’s play calling.
Bengals 17 – Bills 7
The Bengals march 98 yards down the field with ease against Buffalo’s defense. Andy Dalton has been able to dink and dunk the ball for massive gains and Buffalo’s inability to score from one yard out comes back to haunt them here. Gio Bernard showed some fancy footwork on a 20 yard reception to put the ball into the end zone.
Gio Bernard gains two on 3rd and 1. The momentum is fully in the Bengals’ favor.
Buffalo needs a stop on third and one here.
Andy Dalton hasn’t had to make many big throws today. The short passing game is killing the Bills. A.J. Green gains 54 yards on a screen pass.
The Bengals gain a first down to get the ball out to their 14 yard line. Gives Cincinnati some breathing room.
I agree with Buffalo going for it on 4th down but the quarterback bootleg is a poor play call on 4th down.
Thad Lewis is stopped on fourth down and the Bengals take over on their own two yard line. That play takes away a lot of Buffalo’s momentum.
Fred Jackson is stopped on the one yard line again on third down.
The Bills face a 3rd and goal at the 1 after Fred Jackson is stopped for no gain.
At the end of the first quarter, the Bills trail the Bengals 10-7 but the team is on the Bengals’ 1 yard line.
Tashard Choice gains 13 yards to give the Bills a first and goal on the Bengals’ 2 yard line.
The Bills have been doing a great job on third and short today. Tashard Choice moves the ball on 3rd and 1 for another first down.
Fred Jackson gains no yards on a screen pass, but he facemasked Jackson to the ground.
T.J. Graham made a big catch on the first drive, but let a ball go right off his hands this drive. Spiller runs for nine yards on second down and Fred Jackson adds a 12 yard run on 3rd and 1.
Buffalo tries an end around but the Bengals played it well. Marquise Goodwin loses a yard on the play. C.J. Spiller gains 10 yards on the next play and then Thad Lewis moves the chains on a quarterback run.
Marquise Goodwin returns the ball to Buffalo’s 23 yard line.
Bengals 10 – Bills 7
A.J. Green makes a great catch in the endzone over Leodis McKelvin to give the Bengals the lead back in Buffalo.
Andy Dalton jukes Kiko Alonso just enough to gain a first down on 3rd and 6.
Jairus Byrd breaks up a pass intended for Jermaine Gresham.
Marvin Jones gains 40 yards on a screen pass. The Bengals have been taking advantage of Buffalo’s aggressiveness on defense.
The crowd at the Ralph is making it hard for the Bengals who have to call a timeout following a false start.
Kiko Alonso clotheslines Gio Bernard after a 15 yard swing pass.
Marcus Easley has been unbelievable this season on kick coverage this year.
Bills 7 – Bengals 3
Thad Lewis runs the ball in on a quarterback draw to give the team a 7-3 lead.
Thad Lewis scrambles on the next play and slides before getting hit by the Bengals. An unnecessary roughness penalty against Cincinnati puts the team on the Bengals’ 8 yard line.
Thad Lewis completes his first pass for 37 yards to T.J. Graham.
Bills face 3rd and 4 following two Fred Jackson runs.
Bengals 3 – Bills 0
Mike Nugent gets the Bengals on the board with a 46 yard field goal. The big play on the drive was an end around to Marvin Jones that went for 34 yards. Thad Lewis and the Bills are about to take the field.
McKelvin breaks up a third down pass intended for Marvin Jones.
One thing I’ve noticed: Mario Williams looks to get held often and the referees hardly call anything against the opposing tackles.
The Bills fell for an end around and the Marvin Jones gains 34 yards.
The Bills won the coin toss and deferred.
The Bills secondary will finally be at full-strength for the first time this season.
Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin will be the team’s starting cornerbacks and Jairus Byrd and Aaron Williams will start at safety. Buffalo’s secondary will have their hands full when they face off against the Bengals’ talented wide receivers and tight ends. It’ll be interesting to see how many snaps Gilmore and Byrd play in their respective debuts and if either shows any signs of rustiness.
The Bengals inactives have been announced:
RB R. Burkhead
DE M. Hunt
OT T. Hawkinson
CB C. Lewis-Harris
WR R. Whalen
CB B. Ghee
G M. Pollak
Read more about the top storylines and matchups to watch in today’s Bills-Bengals game with Dan Hope’s game preview!
In other Bills news, Doug Legursky will be starting at left guard. Colin Brown, the starter for the first five games, is expected to rotate with Legursky. One thing is for sure, both players will have their hands full with Geno Atkins.
The Bills inactives have been announced:
QB EJ Manuel
WR Stevie Johnson
CB Justin Rogers
CB Brandon Burton
CB Ron Brooks
LB Ty Powell
OL Antoine McClain