Recently hired backup QB Thad Lewis almost pulled off the improbable, but ultimately the Bills lost to the Bengals 27-24 in overtime. The Bills kept it close, but too many times, the Bills struggled to move the ball on third downs while conversely giving up too many third downs to their opponents. It’s one of those could’ve, should’ve and would’ve games, but ultimately a loss is a loss and it won’t be easier next week.
Rushing Offense: C
Going against a top-tier run defense (again), the Bills were hot and cold. C.J. Spiller had some nice rushes finishing 10 for 55 yards, while Jackson struggled at times going 10 for 35 yards. One big weakness I keep noticing is the Bills CANNOT run up the middle in short yardage situations despite putting in FB Summers. Thad Lewis had some nice scrambles including a 3 yard TD in the first, but also had a costly fumble. I was surprised that the Bills did not try to run it more in the second half with mixed results.
Passing Offense: B-
Thad Lewis, despite some poor pocket awareness, exceeded many people’s expectations. He finished the day 19 for 32 (59.4%) for 216 yards and 2 TDs. While he was not consistent in getting throws between the down markers, he had some beautiful deep balls, hitting Graham on a 47 yard pass and Goodwin on a 40 yard TD. (Goodwin was also INTERFERED WITH ON A DEEP BALL ~ how the REF MISSED THAT I do not know…) Scott Chandler was also hit on a beautiful fourth down pass for a 25 yard TD. The O-Line struggled at times giving up 5 sacks (though some were due to Lewis).
Run Defense: C-
The Bills did a nice job containing Bernard in the run game (only) keeping him at 15 carries for 28 yards, but gave up big chunks of yards to the Law Firm who had 18 for 86. Oh and a 34 yard run to Marvin Jones (SERIOUSLY BRIAN; STOP CALLING OUT THEIR PLAYMAKERS, sigh!!) The Bills did better in the second half, but it seemed like too often the Bengals O-Line was pushing us back a few yards when it hurt the most. Alonso started off very sluggishly, but made plays late finishing with 22 tackles while SS DaNorris Searcy had 16.
Pass Defense: D-
It’s sad that a clubbed Stephon Gilmore is better than a healthy Justin Rogers. Screens killed the Bills all day while the Bills pass rush was all but taken away by the Bengals O-Line (although they did eke out 3 sacks). Despite having a pick, Jim Leonhard seemed to be not in a position to support in time. While the Bills did well to contain Cincy’s talented TE’s, they gave up big plays to their top three receivers while RB Bernard was untouchable after catching passes. Bills gave up a total of 337 yards and 3 TDs to Dalton.
Special Teams: B-
Can we say… we love Moorman!! The guy nailed a punt on the half yard line and also had three other beauts; the one big return in OT, came from blown coverage (is Grossman insisting on kicking it to the left because if he is, it needs to stop!) Carpenter also made a beautiful 51 yard field goal, but the now healthy Bills return men had a quiet return today.
Some fans wondered why Marrone opted to start Thad Lewis over Jeff Tuel, but that looked like a good call. Playing without your #1 QB and WR hurt, but some of the play-calling has been questionable like the QB run fade on fourth down and one on the goal-line. Congrats on getting into OT, but you need to finish games and also, keep your players in line. Kyle Williams was right to defend his teammate, but stupid penalties have been killing the Bills for over a month now.