Game 14: Bills Win Fifth Straight 33-17
Playoff hopes kept alive with big road win.
by Steve Saslow
The blueprint was to use a ball control style of offense to win games. During the Bills feverish rise in the standings they have found other ways to win. The 33-17 win over Cincinnati was similar to last week's win against Cleveland. The offense didn't do that much, but they didn't have to. All three units scored touchdowns while the Bills forced four turnovers and made a couple of big plays on offense to pull off their fifth straight win, seventh in their last eight, and eighth in their last 10 after an 0-4 start.
As has been common practice lately the Bills fell behind early but didn't stay behind. Lee Evans fumbled the ball away and the Bengals ran it six straight plays to a Rudi Johnson three yard touchdown run to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Johnson ran very well against the Bills defense as he carried players on many plays finishing with 130 yards on 23 carries. Evans' fumble was a rare mistake by the Bills but they could have made more but the bounces seemed to go their way all game. They fumbled the ball five times in all, but Evans' play was the only turnover.
Evans would redeem himself immediately. On the first offensive play after the touchdown, the Bills pulled a gadget play, a flea flicker that totally burned the rookie safeties. Both Evans and Eric Moulds were wide open. Drew Bledsoe hit Evans who was hauled down at the 5 after a 60 yard gain. The Bills stayed in the air and after two incompletions, Bledsoe hit Evans in the middle of the end zone for the game tying touchdown.
The offense had their touchdown, it was the special teams turn. The Bengals went three and out on the ensuing possession and setup to punt. Jason Peters showed his size, athleticism, and speed by bursting through the middle, blocking the punt and scampering to the end zone to fall on it for the score giving the Bills the 14-7 lead. It was the first such score by the Bills since 1996.
The Defense got into the act on the next Bengals possession. The Bengals drove down the field but Takeo Spikes was determined to make the big play in his homecoming game. He stepped in front of a hurried throw by Jon Kitna picked it off and returned it 62 yards for the score.
The Bills scored three quick touchdowns on three straight possessions, by three different units and that was going to be enough as the defense began to stiffen. The Bengals did move down the field for a field goal on the next drive. It could have been more but the Bills stopped Johnson for a one yard loss on a third and one thanks to Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel.
The Bills would add four straight Rian Lindell field goals to put the game away. They would get two more before halftime thanks to a fumble recovery by London Fletcher and an interception by Kelsay. Those two turnovers came on consecutive offensive plays by Cincinnati and turned into 23 and 39 yard field goals to make the score 27-10 at the half.
The Bengals were dominating the game statistically but the big plays and bounces went the Bills way and even though it felt like they were getting beat up along the line of scrimmage they were dominating on the scoreboard.
They went for the kill on defense and shut down the Bengals the rest of the way except for a late touchdown when the game was no longer in doubt. The Offense managed two more Lindell field goals in the fourth quarter. The first field goal was setup by a Spikes fumble recovery, a pass interference call, and two nice passes to Evans.
The second field goal of the fourth quarter was a nice ball control drive but not on the ground. Bledsoe took to the air with Willis McGahee out after twisting his knee. He is expected to be fine. With no running game, Bledsoe played his best ball in the final quarter using the clock while completing pass.
It has been a real exciting run that gets another week of reprieve with another big dominating win. This one was really impressive since it came when the team didn't play at its best against a solid team on the road. The Bills are dangerous since they constantly find different ways to win and win convincingly. The playoffs are still a pipe dream but with two games left, the chances continue to improve. One thing is for sure, nobody wants to see the Bills in the playoffs because they are just about the hottest team in the league.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Bengals:Gameballs