By Chris Brown, Lead Journiast ( buffalobills.com ) But Buffalo reversed all the momentum in the second half scoring on their opening drive and then turning a pair of takeaways of their own into 14 points as they outscored the Bengals 35-0 in the second half to win a barnburner 49-31. For Buffalo it was their second straight victory as they improved to 2-8.
At one point the Bills were down 21 points in the second quarter 28-7. The 21-point deficit is the largest road deficit overcome by the Bills since Oct. 25, 1987 when they rebounded from a 21-point hole to beat the Dolphins in Miami 34-31.
Down 31-14 Buffalo scored on their opening drive of the third quarter marching 68 yards on nine plays with Fitzpatrick finding Steve Johnson for a 28-yard touchdown pass to pull Buffalo to within 10 (31-21).
From there Buffalo’s defense took over. Two plays into Cincinnati’s possession after the Bills touchdown, Cedric Benson was stripped by Marcus Stroud on a run off left tackle. The loose ball was scooped up by Drayton Florence who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown making it a three-point game with 9:43 left in the third quarter.
Cincinnati threatened on their next possession, but on 3rd-and-goal at the Bills five-yard line, George Wilson stepped in front of a Carson Palmer pass intended for Terrell Owens in the end zone and returned it 56 yards to midfield.
Buffalo’s offense cashed in eight plays later as Fitzpatrick hooked up with Johnson for the second time in the game on an 11-yard touchdown pass giving Buffalo their first lead of the game less than a minute into the fourth quarter (31-28).
The Bills poured it on from there as Fitzpatrick hooked up with Johnson a third time as he was left wide open over the middle inside the Cincinnati 20. Johnson turned up field and found the end zone for a third time on a 32-yard scoring play putting Buffalo up by 11 with 11:36 left.
From there the Bengals continued to bungle the game. In an attempt to make it a one score game with five minutes remaining, Aaron Pettrey pushed a 43-yard field goal wide left. It was the last real threat from Cincinnati as they dropped their seventh straight game.
Fred Jackson capped the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run with under two minutes remaining after Florence picked off a Carson Palmer pass intended for Jermaine Gresham with 2:37 left.
The Bengals offense got off to a fast start scoring on each of their first three possessions to jump out to a 20-7 lead early in the second quarter. Cincinnati’s run game, which has struggled for most of the season, had little trouble picking up consistent yardage on the ground and set up short down and distance on third downs.
Carson Palmer and company converted their first five third down opportunities including a pair of third and goals for touchdowns. Palmer’s first of two touchdown passes went to Chad Ochocinco on a quick slant and Terrell Owens ran almost a duplicate play on their second scoring drive.
Cincinnati scored their third touchdown off a turnover when a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass intended for Lee Evans along the right sideline was picked off by Jonathan Joseph at the Bills 34-yard line. After a 26-yard run by Cedric Benson to the Bills three-yard line, Benson capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run two plays later for a 21-7 Bengals lead with 11 minutes left in the first half.
Things went from bad to worse for the Bills on their ensuing possession. On a 3rd-and-7 from their own 23, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw his second interception on a quick slant attempt to Steve Johnson. Joseph jumped the route and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 Bengals advantage.
The Bills looked as though they’d get at least three points back on a 33-yard field goal attempt by Rian Lindell, but he pushed the attempt wide right leaving Buffalo with a 21-point deficit with 4:26 left in the first half.
Buffalo finally found the end zone a second time when Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones over the middle and the rookie outraced the Bengals secondary to the end zone on a 28-yard scoring play to make it 28-14 with 1:17 left in the second quarter.
However, Cincinnati’s offense, with all three of their timeouts at their disposal moved deep into Bills territory when Jordan Shipley took a pass underneath across the field to the far sideline for a 26-yard gain to the Bills three-yard line.
After a pass interference call against Buffalo, Cincinnati had a 1st-and-goal from the one situation with 15 seconds left in the half. After a pass interference penalty and a failed run on 1st-and-goal from the one, the Bengals used their second timeout leaving just five seconds on the clock.
Cincinnati chose to run on second-and-goal from the one, but they were stuffed by Paul Posluszny and Akin Ayodele. The game clock appeared to expire, but head referee Ed Hochuli claimed that he blew the whistle on the play with one second remaining allowing the Bengals to use their third timeout and kick a 19-yard field goal on third down giving Cincinnati a 31-14 lead at the half.
Buffalo’s schedule gets considerably tougher as they host Pittsburgh next Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium for a 1 pm kickoff.