The Buffalo Bills lost 19-16 to the Cleveland Browns thanks to Stephen Hauschka failing to convert either of his two field goal attempts. In a day that featured close scores and back-and-forth momentum, the burning question is assuredly whether the Bills should’ve trusted their kicker, who has yet to score from 50+ yards this season (and hooked a 37-yarder earlier in the day), to score a 52-yarder on fourth and four with 22 seconds left.
The Bills had control of their clutch situations for most of the day, but when it mattered, with Hauschka’s two kicks and a late touchdown to Rashard Higgins, they tripped over themselves. The Bills had a chance to all but lock up a playoff spot today, and they fumbled it.
The Browns came out hot on their first drive. On a six-play, 75-yard sequence, they didn’t even face a third down, and Baker Mayfield scored his first opening-drive touchdown of the season. Jarvis Landry’s taunting penalty after the play pushed Cleveland’s kick back 15 yards, and the Browns missed the extra point. Pass interference pushed the Bills 35 yards downfield on their first drive, but they sputtered outside field goal range and turned the ball over on downs.
The Browns took over and promptly drove the ball down to the one-yard line over the next eight plays. But they couldn’t punch it in. Over eight consecutive goal-line plays, the Bills completely shut down Cleveland (aside from a pass-interference penalty) and forced a turnover on downs.
Both teams traded punts, then the Bills found a little rhythm. Josh Allen found Dawson Knox for 12, Robert Foster for 20 (his first catch of 2019), and two plays later he ran ten yards untouched for the touchdown. Cleveland took the ball all the way back to the Buffalo 1-yard line again, but once again the Bills stood strong. The Browns settled for a field goal.
Buffalo had the two-minute drill with multiple timeouts, and Josh Allen extended the drive into field goal territory. A couple near-sacks killed the drive, but Stephen Hauschka missed a 37-yard field goal and the Bills went into halftime with a 9-7 deficit.
Buffalo’s lockdown defense continued into the second half. After a great punt started the Browns at the seven yard line, Tremaine Edmunds sacked Baker Mayfield in the end zone for a safety. The Browns did come back with a field goal, and left the third quarter with a 12-9 lead.
Josh Allen struck back in the fourth. His pass to Cole Beasley put the Bills on the 11-yard line, then he carried the ball (but fumbled it). Jon Feliciano recovered it at the one-yard line, and a QB sneak gave the Bills a 16-12 lead two plays later.
The Browns took over with just over five minutes remaining. At one point it appeared that Jerry Hughes recovered a botched snap for a touchdown, but the referees ruled it an incomplete shovel pass. Instead the Browns recovered and Baker Mayfield found Rashard Higgins in the back of the end zone to take the lead. The Bills trailed 19-16 with 1:44 remaining.
Josh Allen tried his best to bring the Bills downfield in the two-minute drill. He found John Brown on 3rd and 8 for 21 yards, then gave to Isaiah McKenzie for 11. With 1st and 10 from the Cleveland 41-yard line, Allen threw incomplete on a blown-up play, found Devin Singletary for six yards, strangely asked his team to huddle before third down, then threw an inaccurate deep pass to Brown on third and four. On fourth down, the Bills tried yet again to generate an offsides before calling timeout. They opted to attempt the 52-yard field goal, which Hauschka kicked wide left.
The Bills had a clean sheet going into the game, and appeared to have a clean sheet at the end of this game.
- Robert Foster finally snagged his first catch of the year, a 20-yarder. Unfortunately that was it for his production today.
- Jon Feliciano nearly scored his first career touchdown, after Josh Allen’s 11th fumble of the season nearly rolled into the end zone. Instead he was called down at the one, handing the Bills a fresh set of downs that led to their second touchdown on the day.
- Both of Buffalo’s linebackers, Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano, notched their first sacks of the season today. Edmunds created a safety with his.
- How good was Tre’Davious White today? He had almost as many passes defended (four) as Odell Beckham Jr. had catches (5 on 12 targets). He’s not just making a Pro Bowl case, he’s making an All-Pro case.
- Corey Bojorquez had his best game of the season, maybe his career today. He punted four times for a 49.8-yard average, caused a muffed punt, dropped three punts within the 20-yard line, and had none land as touchbacks.
- Rookie Dawson Knox set a new career high with four catches for 55 yards.
- Josh Allen was held without a passing touchdown today, but scored two on the ground.
- John Brown extended his four catch, fifty-yard streak with five for 77 today.
- Stephen Hauschka is 1-for-4 on his most recent field goal attempts. All of the misses came in the final minute of a half of football.