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Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals: horrible line play dooms rookie QB Josh Allen

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This was an ugly day for all three phases.

The Buffalo Bills lost their third preseason game of the season, dropping their record to 1-2 after a 26-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. But that’s not the big story from the game, as rookie Josh Allen made his first start. It was not one to remember.

Here are the takeaways from Sunday:

Good Lord, offensive line

The offensive line was brutal against the starters. They were called for penalties and allowed five sacks of Josh Allen and a couple more hits. Buffalo rotated the interior offensive line, with Ryan Groy playing two positions, Vlad Ducasse playing both right and left guard, and John Miller moving out of the lineup in the first three drives. Miller returned and was called for multiple fouls and allowed a sack.

Passing offense in reverse under Allen

Last week, the Bills starting offense got a shot in the arm when Allen came in after AJ McCarron couldn’t get anything moving. This week, Allen was under constant duress and even with his escapability, he took five sacks and lost as many yards as he was able to pass for. Receivers dropped passes and didn’t fight for balls, and Allen even underthrew a pass. They were out of sync.

Injuries opening doors for others

Marcus Murphy has definitely played his way onto the roster, and took several first-team reps alongside Chris Ivory as LeSean McCoy sat with a groin injury. At defensive end, Shaq Lawson once again showed up and did okay in relief of an injured Trent Murphy. Harrison Phillips was largely neutralized in place of Kyle Williams.

Cornerback changes

Last year, the Bills tended to keep the rookie Tre’Davious White and the other cornerback on specific sides of the field, but today against the stud A.J. Green, White shadowed the perennial Pro Bowler. It could be something they are planning on doing going forward. Even on the other side, Vontae Davis was benched for three series and replaced by Phillip Gaines. Davis allowed a 59-yard touchdown on the first play of the game.

Colton Schmidt opened the punter competition door

This week, the Bills added former Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan. How did incumbent Colton Schmidt respond? By launching four bad punts under 40 yards. He eventually clobbered a 59-yarder and ended the day averaging 41 yards, but it wasn’t a great day. Ryan only punted once from the 41, and while he was able to drop it in the field of play at the one, the coverage team wasn’t able to keep it from going in the end zone. The match is not over yet.


  • Three different tight ends saw snaps on the first three offensive plays; Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, and Jason Croom. Logan Thomas played most of the second half while Croom punched in a touchdown in the third quarter. Khari Lee was the notable odd man out.
  • Lots and lots and lots of penalties.
  • The Bills’ first-team defense was gashed through the air, which is a departure from last week when they were gashed on the ground.