It would appear that the Cigarette Smoking Man still hates the Bills! In a simply ugly all-around game from the Bills offense, defense and officiating, the Bills lost to the Bengals 23-20. While the game can easily be blamed for a bad call by the officials, the Bills were not prepared offensively and could not move the ball consistently, nor could they stop a late rally defensively.
Alright so I am a bit bitter; I'm only a Bills fan and a football loving human with two perfectly functioning eyes. The first offense was the, albeit properly called, infamous tuck rule. Kelsay had sandwiched Dalton deep in Cincy territory and as Dalton tried to tuck in the ball, seemingly fumbled which Bryan Scott recovered and scored a TD. Bad rule but right call. The most egregious error though was on a crucial third down for the Bills in the fourth quarter. Anyone with eyes (including fans from around the league on Yahoo) maintain that Stevie caught the ball for first down that likely would have had points later put up. Its one thing to mess up the call on the field, but to not overturn the bad call is tantamount to a fix.
Run Offense: D+
Going up a tough front seven, Fred Jackson had his worst game to date. 17 carries for 66 yards (less than 4 yards a carry) a TD are fair numbers, especially against this Cincy defense, but more needs to happen. Several missed blocks curtailed runs all day while Spiller has yet to find his niche on the field.
Pass Offense: D
One bad half deserved another. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled in placing the ball throughout the game. Stevie Johnson was productive, but Jones and Nelson were not. Heads up play by Naaman to grab the deflected pass and take it 28 yards.
Blocking Offense: C
While giving up one sack on the day is usually good, the offensive line had problems handling the pass rush all day; not giving Fitz enough time to make some throws he wanted. Run blocking was sub-par today as well. Demetrius Bell went out part way in the fourth letting his backup Chris Hairston to play. Should be interesting which players will start next week.
Run Defense: D
Dalton's QB draw for a TD was a good play. But to let Cedric Benson run for more 100 yards on the day as well as to let he and Leonard average more than five yards a carry is a serious step backwards in bettering the run defense. The inside linebackers have to get to the outside more quickly once the outside linebackers take out a blocker.
Pass Defense: C-
Like last week, the secondary came up with two big picks, one by George Wilson which the Bills later scored a TD on. The other was another beautiful heads up play by Bryan Scott who picked the ball off the feet of the receiver to bring it back for an early score. On the other hand, A.J. Green dominated Leodis McKelvin while George Wilson had problems defending TE Gresham. Either Dalton is a really capable QB or the secondary got caught napping.
Pass Rush Defense: C-
It was nice to see some pass rush occur today. Dareus had a big sack following a questionable Cincy first down while Shawne Merriman pushed Dalton out, although Shawne still (IMHO) has yet to reach his potential. Chris Kelsay had a sack taken away by the tuck rule. Penetration was there, but Dalton and Benson seemed to be able to work around it.
Special Teams: B-
Brian Moorman punted well into the game averaging 50+ yards a punt, but gunner Justin Rogers missed pinning them deep at one point. Rian Lindell easily made another two field goals. Spiller and Smith never really got an opportunity to return the ball while coverage was fair, but could be better.
Leading at the half, Gailey did not make sure that the team stayed vigilant throughout. You cannot blame Chan though for the failed red flag on the Johnson "incompletion." Personally I would have liked Chan to have gone for it on 4th and 1 around midfield, although Chan should try running it more on the short down yardage opportunities.