Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- If you looked at the matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals on paper heading into the game, most would conclude that the game would end with a predictable result.
The Bills were down to essentially their third string quarterback, missing their top wide receiver, their top running back was saddled with an ankle injury and an overwhelming opposing roster that has as much depth as any in the NFL. Contemplating all those factors, a lopsided Buffalo loss was the likeliest outcome to some.
Defying the odds, the Bills showed their resolve and turned it into one of the most competitive games of the weekend. A 27-24 overtime loss to one of the better teams in the AFC won't pad their win-loss record, but it was an indication that despite all the adversity this Bills team could overcome the obstacles.
- Without EJ Manuel, the Bills were supposed to lay an egg. Most around the country assumed the Bengals would run away with the contest. Surprising many, Thad Lewis turned in a performance -- on a bum foot for most of the game, mind you -- that is worthy of positive reviews through and through. Lewis showed poise throughout the contest despite all the factors working against the Bills and their offense. He started off the game on fire, bringing Buffalo down for a touchdown on his very first drive. He hit deep passes and showed good velocity on some of his throws. It wasn't a Pro Bowl worthy performance by any means, but doing what he did -- getting called up from the practice squad and starting that week -- is a performance to be commended. Even with the injury to his right foot, Lewis was able to keep the game alive with clutch throws. His day will surely be highlighted by his 40-yard touchdown pass to the speedy Marquise Goodwin and for good reason. He made a few mental errors though, including some throws behind receivers and not taking care of the football with the lost fumble. In spite of that, Lewis showed that even without Manuel the Bills still stood a chance. Now they'll just have to hope the injury isn't a serious one. Otherwise, it's time for Jeff Tuel unless another addition to the active roster is made. If any of the latter scenarios unfold, things could get hairy for the Bills for however long Lewis and Manuel is out.
Early defensive woes
- With the way the Bills defense had been playing, the offensive output Cincinnati exhibited early on was out of character for Mike Pettine's unit. Quarterback Andy Dalton, who has shown his inconsistent nature through and through this season, was throwing the ball around at will and finding open receivers in the first half. The Bills allowed big chunk plays on the ground and through the air, leading to a 284-yard effort from the Bengals in just the first thirty minutes. Buffalo was getting little to no pressure, and Cincinnati established their playmakers in the early going. To their credit, they tightened up the proverbial screws in the second half and didn't allow the Bengals to run away with it. If it wasn't for such a poor effort in the first half however, the Bills could have pulled this one out.
Woods nowhere to be found
- Without Stevie Johnson in the lineup, Robert Woods was eliminated from the game plan by the Bengals. Drawing the assignment of Leon Hall for most of the game, Woods was only able to catch two passes for nine yards on six total targets. It's fair to point out all the pressure Johnson's presence takes off the rookie wide receiver, because it felt as though the Bills were without their top two receivers for much of the game. Woods is going to be a good player if he keeps on progressing the way he is, but having that second viable threat is vital moving forward. He can't do it alone.
Colin Brown experiment is over
- After an enduring six week run, it seems as though Colin Brown has seen his last starting action for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills started the game with their rotation, giving Doug Legursky the first two drives at left guard and Brown the second two. Those two drives with Brown was all head coach Doug Marrone and offensive line coach Pat Morris needed to see. Not counting the brief kneel down to put the game into overtime, Legursky was the left guard for the remaining seven drives for the Bills. Unless an injury happens to one of the interior positions, the Colin Brown era of starting at left guard has mercifully come to an end.
4th-and-goal… right or wrong call?
- The game and decision making of Doug Marrone will be analyzed over and over again, but it's one play in particular that will feature hindsight philosophies as the principal argument to defy what the head coach did. At the beginning of the second quarter, the Bills had the ball at the one-yard line three straight plays with a chance to punch it in for a touchdown. They ran it on second down for no yards and ran it on third down for zero yards once again. That brought on a fourth-down situation from the one-yard line and the Bills were down by three points at the moment. Marrone elected to go for it, resulting in a Thad Lewis sack. Statistically speaking, Marrone's decision to go for the touchdown is a slam dunk and should be duplicated in that exact situation again and again. Once again, we are aided by the Win Probability Calculator on AdvancedNFLStats.com. With the Bills failing to convert on fourth down, which left Cincinnati with a 1st-and-10 on their own two-yard line with 13:41 to go in the second quarter, it left the Bills with a win probability of 40-percent. Now let's venture into the land of hypotheticals: had the Bills elected to take the points and kick the field goal to tie up the game, their win probability would only have jumped up to 48-percent. When you analyze the potential gains of what a successful touchdown and extra point would have provided, Marrone's decision was a sound one. If the Bills take a four point lead at that point in the game, it swings the probability of a victory into their favor, almost doubling the potential loss of win probability with a failed fourth-down. Had the Bills scored the touchdown, their win probability would have jumped to 63-percent. Now, it's fair to argue the play calls the Bills chose to go with in those settings, but the original argument of the "take the points!" crowd is convenient because of the final score. However, the domino effect of scoring three points at that moment changes philosophies and approaches on offense through the rest of the game. In short, Marrone made the right call.
Goodwin > Graham
- Wide receiver T.J. Graham had what was one of the most productive games of his young career, that much is clear. What was also evident throughout the contest is that rookie Marquise Goodwin is the superior option for a few different reasons. Goodwin is faster, has more reliable hands and is a better blocker through and through. While Graham roped in the one deep throw from the arm of Thad Lewis in the first quarter, his concentration in catching the ball resulted in a later drop and a juggling reception that very well could have been an interception. Seeing as how it was his first game back, once Goodwin gets up to full speed the Bills need to contemplate having him take over the snaps from Graham and putting the second-year player in more of a situational role. The 40-yard touchdown reception was just the icing on the cake.
- For the first time in 2013, the Buffalo Bills had both cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd taking defensive snaps in a game. Both players were limited during their return, but played a substantial amount as they each came back from respective injuries. Gilmore sported a club on his hand that didn't expose any skin from his fingertips up to the middle of his forearm. He didn't try to jam at the line of scrimmage all that much because of it, and was just trying to get back in the swing of things. Byrd was in for all the team's three-safety sets, and got more base work when Da'Norris Searcy suffered an in-game injury (and ultimately returned to the game). As the week goes on, each player will be worked in more and more, but the first hurdle has been cleared. They're back on the field. Now, they have to get back to their normal level of play and finally cast aside those nagging injuries.
Punting goes from a weakness to a strength
- Brian Moorman probably never envisioned himself donning a Buffalo Bills jersey again, but the longtime franchise punter certainly didn't take the second chance for granted. He sprinted on to the field to a standing ovation from the fans that were already in the stadium, pumping his fist in the air mid-trot. On his first punt, Moorman couldn't have asked for anything better. He skied one down inside the 10-yard line, allowing special teams ace Marcus Easley to get down to the ball in time. Easley let the ball roll and it went out of bounds at the one-yard line. Moorman had been waiting over a month to have that first kick that counted, and delivered in a big way. The Bills said they wanted hang time and they got just that from the veteran. It was a dramatic upgrade from what they had in the previous two weeks with Shawn Powell.
Bills' MVP: QB Thad Lewis
- In a tough spot, Lewis came in against a solid defense and put the Bills in a position to challenge for a victory. Two passing touchdowns and another rushing score showed Lewis has some game. Now it's just a matter of his health.
Bills' LVP: DC Mike Pettine in the first half
- Normally a strength for the Bills, Mike Pettine's scheme in the early going left a lot to be desired and put a lot of yards and points on the board for Cincinnati. It ultimately cost the team the victory.
Up Next: Sunday, October 20 at Miami, 1 pm.
- In past years of Buffalo Bills football, it's fairly predictable what would have happened had the Bills went into a fourth quarter trailing 24-10. The negative plays likely would have snowballed and resulted in a loss that the players in the locker room would be ashamed of. Once again, this Bills team showed their resolve despite all the adversity and against a very good team in Cincinnati. None of the players in the locker room wants to boast about the concept of a moral victory, which is exactly what their 27-24 overtime loss is. However, the attitude at One Bills Drive has proven time and time again now that it's changed for the better. That's a big first step. Now it's about learning how to turn close losses into close wins. It's easier said than done, but it's what makes the great teams continue to shine every single year.
I think Thad performed statistically better in this game than Manuel in the first 5. EJ IS NOT the QB of the future. Thad is not either, but he's far superior to Manuel. I wish the coaches and everyone else would hop off the Manuel train. The sooner we can move on, the sooner the Bills will contend. Manuel is not good and not a smart QB from a football perspective. Mark my words.
this game could have been a win? offense with it's weaknesses played well n scored- Defense failed to hold the Bengals - enough said ! both sides have to play hard together
Why write this drivel?
You predicted a loss dupe.
Wake Up Joe
Bills D giving up big yards was "out of charachter for Mike Pettine's unit"? What team have you been covering all year? This defense has given up big plays consistently along with both long drives and long plays against. Bills have to be near the top of the league in plays over 20 yards against and today was another example of shoddy tacking and soft coverage for most of the game. Through three quarters the d line got manhandled, especially our two tackles, Dareus and Williams. At least 4 third and short yardage situations netted first downs by rushing by Cincinnati. Screens to both the backs and receivers gashed the Bills and third down conversions by the Bengals in the first half alone were enough for more than one entire game for most defenses. I will agree the Bills are certainly finding ways to kep games close but it isn't the defense that is usually responsible for that. They have a long way to go yet.
There was little difference in qb play. Indeed, playing injured, you might give the edge to Lewis over Manuel. Forget the rotating left guard position; Brown is a charity case at best. Goodwin and\or Graham are just Parrish revisted nothing more. Gilmore should be inactive until he has use of his wrist again - he's just a target otherwise unable to tackle or fight off blocks. Punt coverage failed again and cost the Bill's the game not Pettine.
Suprise Suprise, Thad Lewis fills EJ Manuels shoes
First of all can we stop pretending that EJ Manuel was carrying this organization on his shoulders before he got hurt. His best performance was against NE in a loss, since then its been all downhill. Terrible against Carolina for 3 quarters and then bailed himself out with the comeback. Equally awful against the Jets and Baltimore, yet Buffalo defense bailed him out against Baltimore. Nice to see our practice squad player step up and equal or outperform or first round pick.
Competing is good
The Bills did not suck today. They worked hard. They made mistakes. But the kept themselves in the game and did not fold. They may not be competitive as far as the playoffs go, but they are competing on the field, and that takes a lot of the sting out oflosing.
coach killed their chance to win
Couple of choices I would have considered. 1. Why not go for 2 after the Goodwin catch. You have momentum on your side and about a 50% chance to get it. Not to mention, you get a chance to choose your fate. By losing the toss, the bills lost the game. The only really good choice they had at the end was to go for it on 4th down. Punting was a worse option because all the Bengals needed to do was get a couple yards to score the field goal and win. In the end, they would have been better off going for it on 4th. If you make it, the drive is alive, if you don't, you lose on your own terms.
That above is the Bills pulse. I mean, the Bengals at home? Not the best team in the league. Anyone is crazy to even watch on TV, let alone sit in those stands and watch in person. I have not watched since 2009, yeah, it's predictable all right, Bills=lose in the end. It reminds me of a bad movie, people go to watch the same act over and over. Why? Desperate? Cannot help but hand Ralph your hard earned money? Really a joke.
How exactly does taking 3 points that early change play calling philosophies?
I wanted the Bills to take the points and said so before they failed on the 4th down play. I then turned to a friend and told them that this will haunt the Bills later once they failed to convert. No hindsight, and not convenient because of the score. You can throw out all the win probability foolishness you want and it still doesn't change the fact that the Bills gambled away 3 points.
On the ensuing Bengals drive they went 99 yards and scored a touchdown, something they could have done even if the Bills had scored and kicked off giving them the ball at the 20. And towards the end of the game just before Buffalo's final scoring drive, they would have been down by 4 points, still needing a touchdown. I really don't see how any play calling or philosophies would have changed.
go for 2
why not go for 2 toi win the game outright...I bet all the stats in the world come out ahead of one play to win vs the myriad of OT outcomes
I Think We Have A........
Look, we all wanted EJ to save this franchise, however he is not the answer, Thad may not be either, but I think his play yesterday proved that he should get another shot providing he is healthy. Not bad for a practice squad QB.
bills vs sabres
Well at least the Bills show some signs of fight and fortitude. There core of youngster show some promise, the coaching staff while not perfect looks like it has them going in the right direction. The front office is still suspect. The Sabres are downright the worst franchise in sports today. Lower than the Astros and the Jags!
to many men for the bengals
on the 4 down play,i could of sworn that they to many men on the feild. i counted 12. or maybe i was wrong. let go ruff buff.
Bills need to play all 4 quarters
Fun game - usual results. What was different for the Defense in the 4th quarter? They pressured Dalton relentlessly. Actually got some penetration...why can't they play like this from the first snap...
Offensive play calling in OT was way too conservative...what did the Bills have to lose...2 runs and an incomplete pass?...why not take a shot down field on first down? As usual, the OC Hackett needs to watch Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for some better, more imaginative ideas....
I love how quick everyone jumps off the bandwagon
Uh oh, Lewis played OK.... Manuel is no longer the answer!!
LOL neither of them are.
The "D" looked demoralized from the beginning, and I have a theory why..When players work hard trying to make and then start on a team, and do a good job doing so, then after a holdout, and sitting the first 6 weeks, in comes a player who sacrificed his team for self gratification..have you noticed I did not name names. but i'm sure you all know whom Im speaking of.. last point, this player did look great standing over a pile of humanity a least 6 times..way to keep uni clean...CHIRP
Giving up on Manuel already? Bills fans are idiots.
Manuel is doing fine - the kid has played 5 games and put up better numbers than most all rookies starting their first season including Peyton Manning.
Why do so many Bills fans have so little perspective?
Ya for moral victories!
The Bills have won the moral Super Bowl 4 years in a row!
Fourth and goal from the 1
Anyone who supports a field goal and says the Bills would have won at the end are forgetting that they would have done the same thing on fourth-and-long when the game was 24-10. It would have been 24-13 with the earlier FG, at which points the same people who don't understand why going for it from the 1-yard-line is a better decision would have booted the FG there. So it's 24-16 instead of 24-17, and now they have to go for two after Buffalo's last score just to tie the game. Controversy, shmontroversy!
our D-tackles are horrendous
Its time to stop treating both Darius and Kyle Williams like they are good NFL players - any decent O-line beats the stuffing out of these guys. Neither one can can beat one on one schemes with any regularity and that is killing Pettines scheme. Kyle Williams in particular is a doormat in the trench.
Hamilton left the the stadium not discouraged. I left the stadium the last 13 years disgusted losing. What's wrong with this picture?
Give Manual a break!
I agree with the previous post that many fans have little perspective. Here are 2 stat lines for the 1st 5 games of 2 NFL quarterbacks' careers; First stat line, 81-138 58.7% 1,127 yds 6 td 6 int 12 sacks 1 win - 4 losses. 2nd stat line,85-150 56.7% 985 yds 5 td 3 int 13 sacks 2 wins - 3 losses. Now for some perspective; the 1st set of stats belong to Jim Kelly, the 2nd set to EJ Manual....give the kid a break, and some more time before you render your verdict on his career!!!
Again, idiot fans
Throughout all of last week, all of the fans were calling Marrone and idiot and how unthinkable it was to start someone from the practice squad. Now, its, bench EJ when he comes back, hes not the answer. LOL. EJ is a rookie and has played only 5 games. Thad is definitely better then people expected and showed he has a future in this league. We are good young team and slowly getting things to come together at once. The D let us down this time, where theyve been the strength. Everyone was calling for a blowout. Sucks we lost, but good hard fought game. Go Bills!
This defense has given up big plays all season. I'm sick of hearing about Pettine, and sick of hearing how the D has improved. I don't see where it's any better than previous years. Sure an INT here or there but is anyone else watching the same thing I am? 3rd and whatever is an automatic 1st down for the opponent.
P.S. "coach killed.." this is 2013. Coin toss doesn't matter for OT rules as much anymore. Not to mention the Bills forced a punt on Cin first possession. Did you watch the game, or were you too inebriated to comprehend 2013 NFL football by 4:15pm yesterday?
Well, I like the compete mentality. I didn't like the four downs on the goal line. I don't really disagree with going for it, but the play calling needed more imaginative. Statistics have to be used carefully. They aren't be all end all. They are trends basically and I can argue you can make it look like statistics are on your side no matter the case. Unless you have all the key variables captured, statistics could hurt you more than harm you. I am surprised Freddy didn't find a way to get in, but I wouldn't have relied on that. I would have spread the offense at least once, likely twice, especially on fourth down. I believe that cost them the game. There were other factors as well, special teams, bad officiating (awful really - Ed H. needs to retire, or put out to pasture), and our defense was atrocious - but if we scored to tie the game early on I don't think the other things would have matter, other than the D. But we were in for a tough comeback once we walked away with no points. One more thing - going for two is nuts. If you make it you are fine, but if you don't then you really have a lot of pressure when you score again - to make it or lose. That said, with our record, it might be best to create pressure situations to get our guys some experience and see who can handle it. RFLR
My reaction on the winning field goal by Nugent
Take a look at the call it like Rick winner.
Same old Bills
Thad looked good
I think they have a shot next week against the dolphins even though they'll most likely lose Thad Looked capable of leading this offense until EJ gets back and by next week Gilmore and Byrd will be in sync with their teammates...#SquishTheFish
Where was Mario Williams?
I have no clue. Dunlap looked like he should be the one being the highest paid defensive player in the league. Not Mario. He only plays good against bad teams and is no where to be found against a above average team. Joke of a franchise. He was siged to sell tickets and that is all. I would rather have Andy Levitre.
Life of a Bills fan.
Always wondering who and where they will draft the following year. I see about 6 wins this year with a pick around 8-10. Like always. Keeps the wheels spinning like the bean counters want.
Also wondering who be lost to free agency.