Orchard Park (WKBW) Give the Bills some credit for a gutsy effort. They could have folded things up down two touchdowns in the fourth. Thad Lewis could have played like a practice squad quarterback instead of rallying his team. Give the Bills some credit for fighting until the end. They are still 2-and-4.
There were once again flashes in the 27-24 overtime loss to the Bengals. Once again missed opportunities, and plenty of frustration following another close loss.
"We've lost a lot of close games and that hurts", said Bills center Eric Wood. "It stings that we're so close and we could be on the other end of some of these games. You wish you could go back and change something but you can't. All you can do is change the next time it comes, and hopefully next time we will", Wood continued.
I thought heading in the Bills were going to need a complete game from the defense to have a shot. They didn't get it. It turned out to be a tale of two halves for Mike Pettine's crew. The first half was one to forget.
The Bengals offense had everything going through the first two quarters. Cincinnati racked up 284 yards of offense in the first half and did so with big plays. The Bengals hit on five plays that went for 20 yards or more in the first half. They also scored points on each of their first three drives. The Bills trailed 17-10 at the break.
"We definitely put ourselves in a hole", said Mario Williams. "But then even at he end of the game we still had a chance to win, so I wouldn't say it's discouraging especially with the way we came back", Williams continued.
The Bills defense did battle back in the second half. While far from perfect the "D" made the stops it needed to, especially in the fourth quarter. Down 24-10 the Bills forced the Bengals into a three-and-out to start the fourth. The Buffalo offense scored on the following drive to cut the Cincinnati lead to 24-17.
Then with 3:28 to play Arthur Moats and Kyle WIlliams stopped Giovanni Bernard on third-and-1 for no gain to force a Bengals punt.
Thad Lewis hit Marquise Goodwin on the following Bills drive to tie the score at 24.
The Bills offense also struggled with consistency in the first half. The early turning point came in the second quarter when the Bills had four shots at a score from the Bengals two yard line. The Bills ran Fred Jackson on first, second and third down for a total of 1 yard. Then on fourth and goal from the one Thad Lewis was sacked at the Cincinnati two for a loss of one.
I had no problem with the decision to go for it on fourth down but the gamble didn't pay off. After the turnover on downs the Bengals marched 98 yards on 9 plays in 5:07 for the teams first touchdown. Andy Dalton capped off the drive with a shovel pass from Andy Dalton to Bernard that went for 20 yards.
Other thoughts -
-Thad Lewis at the very least met expectations on Sunday. Lewis finished 19-of-32 for 216 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns. He also rushed for three yard touchdown. Not bad for a guy who was running the scout offense a little over a week ago. He danced in the pocket at times, and was sacked on five occasions but I think overall he executed the offense.
Lewis showed tremendous touch on his first pass of the game a 47 yard strike to T.J. Graham. His touchdown passes in the fourth quarter were both well thrown balls. The first to Scott Chandler went for 22 yards. Then his 40 yard completion to Marquise Goodwin was right on the money. The throw to Goodwin capped off a 7 play, 86 yard drive
-Rookie LB Kiko Alonso finished with 22 tackles. The team said after the game that was the most by a Bills player since LB Damien Covington had 22 on 10/26/1997 against Denver.
-Punter Brian Moorman looked right back at home in his first game back with the Bills. Moorman averaged 48.8 yards on five punts. He also pinned the Bengals inside their own 1 on a coffin corner kick for the ages. Moorman punted from the Cincinnati 48 and the ball bounced out of bounds at the half yard mark. Moorman received a loud ovation from the Buffalo faithful on the play. The spot was reviewed and once it was confirmed by officials Moorman pumped his fists in a familiar outpouring of emotion on the home sideline.