The Buffalo Bills are, somehow, clinging to life against last year’s AFC champions, trailing 17-7 at halftime in a game that feels like it could have twice the scoring margin. The Cincinnati Bengals hammered the Bills in the first quarter, outscoring them 14-0 while gaining more first downs (10) than Buffalo’s total yards from scrimmage (8). In the second quarter, the Bills closed the gap. They were able to force Cincinnati’s only punt of the game, found their footing for a touchdown drive, and somehow strung together a goalline stand on defense that held the Bengals to a field goal near the end of the second quarter.
The Bengals are missing three starting offensive linemen, and a fourth (Ted Karras) is dealing with an injured knee today, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the game. Joe Burrow’s only been hit twice on 26 dropbacks, and the Bengals as a team are rushing for 5.8 yards per carry. The Bills did, smartly, start incorporating more man-to-man defense and QB spies into their scheme in the second quarter, and that’s created some opportunities for Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds to break up plays and knock the Bengals off balance.
While the Bengals drove through Buffalo territory like it was the Autobahn, the Bills spent much of the first half driving through a school zone. Their first two possessions were three-and-outs, and it took 15 plays for the Bills to move 75 yards and score their only touchdown of the game. Even their patented two-minute drill pumped the brakes. Allen was able to gain 41 yards on the team’s first four plays near the end of the half, but from the Bengals’ 34-yard line, he had a pass batted down, had another throw bounce off his receiver’s hands, and had to escape the pocket and throw a deep incompletion on third down (with his teammate flagged for a holding penalty, to boot). The team, collectively, has 27 rushing yards gained on ten carries.
The Bills will take possession to begin the second half, thankfully, giving them an opportunity to close the gap before Cincinnati can stretch it further. They have their work cut out for them to come back and escape today with a win.
Here’s your discussion thread for the rest of the game. Go Bills!