Week 9: Bills Beat Bengals 33-21
Offensive explosion in 4th quarter lifts Bills to win.
by Steve Saslow
This was the offensive performance we were promised way back in training camp as the Bills offense exploded for 17 fourth quarter points enroute to their fourth straight win, a 33-21 win over the Bengals. Despite some more red zone troubles the team book ended four Rian Lindell field goals with a touchdown to start the game and two touchdowns to end it.
It was a very entertaining game as we predicted it would be. J.P. Losman made a statement that he wants his starting job back and it would be hard to argue with him at this point after his 24 for 34 passing effort for 295 yards and a touchdown in the win. He was close to 300 yards early in the 4th quarter but that was when rookie Marshawn Lynch took over. He was battling to get his first 100 yard game and was going backwards late in the game when he broke one of many tackles in the backfield and raced down the sideline for a 56 yard touchdown run to seal the win. That score put him over 100 yards and gave him a career high 153 yards on the day.
It was a trifecta on offense as Lee Evans put his money where his mouth was. He has been outspoken that Losman should be the quarterback and he played big for his guy catching nine passes for 165 yards including a two beautiful sideline catches on the first drive. The second one gave them their first opening series touchdown of the season and a 7-0 lead.
The Bengals went right down the field to tie the game at 7 and we thought a track meet was on but the Bills defense came up big after that allowing just one more touchdown in the game. The special teams would allow the third Bengals score as they gave up a 100 yard kickoff return late in the first half after Lindell's first field goal to give the Bengals a 14-10 lead inside of the two minute warning in the first half.
The Bills offense would respond as Losman drove them down the field but they ran out of time and had to settle for Lindell's second field goal to pull them within a point at halftime. The first half was dominated by Buffalo but the rare special teams gaffe actually had the Bills in a hole at halftime. The Bills first field goal in the second quarter was a nice drive as Lynch had some nice runs but the drive stalled after getting a first and goal at the Bengals 1. A four yard loss on the next play put the Bills in a tough spot and they were held to the three points.
The Bills red zone troubles continued in the third quarter as another drive ended in a Lindell field goal that gave them a 16-14 lead. That drive was a nice mix of the run and pass but a third and nine pass from the 19 to Evans went for just eight yards and forced the Bills to settle for three points again.
The Bengals finally capitalized on the Bills trouble putting the ball in the end zone. They used the no huddle attack for their only big drive since the opening one as they moved down the field in 10 plays for 70 yards that ended with a one yard touchdown pass giving them a 21-16 lead in a game they had no business being in.
The Bills were confident offensively and they would dominate the fourth quarter but that wouldn't happen until they scored their fourth straight field goal offensively as Lindell hit from 38 yards out to get the team to within two points at 21-19. Fans were starting to get the feeling that the field goals weren't going to be enough but the defense was heating up and shutting down the Bengals while the offense was just getting ready to score touchdowns and put the ball away.
The Bills forced a three and out and took over at the Bengals 32 after a short punt and a penalty put the Bills in great shape. This time they wouldn't be denied the end zone but needed a trick play to get there. Six straight runs by Lynch moved them 24 yards and the seventh time they gave it to Lynch again but this time he threw a perfect spiral to Robert Royal for the go ahead touchdown. You may remember that in a big game late last year against Tennessee Royal failed to get his second foot down in the end zone on a similar pass from Evans.
The score seemed to loosen the team up, they forced the Bengals to punt again after getting just one first down and Lynch would put the game away with his never say die jaunt to the end zone.
The QB controversy will now be full blown, Losman did throw one interception but he led the offense to it's most balanced and efficient effort in a long time and that can't be ignored. What also can't be ignored was the incredible play of the defense once again against one of the most high powered offense in the league. Carson Palmer got his yards but a lot of them were in garbage time. The Bengals thought they would get a boost from the return of Rudi Johnson but they held the Bengals to just 28 yards on 17 carries on the ground. Johnson had just 11 on nine carries.
So the offense is making plays suddenly, the defense is playing like a top flight unit the past month and the Bills have won three in a row for the first time in three years. They are also at .500 for the first time in four years with the winless Dolphins up next. It could be a trap game but for now it is time to enjoy another nice victory.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Bengals: