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Immediate reactions: Bengals 27, Bills 24

blog by Nick Mendola  • 

(above graphic by www.colemanworks.net)

World’s Greatest Thad.

How about that? The practice squad quarterback on his fourth team in four years engineers a 14-point 4th quarter comeback with not one, but two 20-plus yard touchdown passes. First, he finds Scott Chandler on a floater for 22 and then airs out a huge deep ball that Marquise Goodwin corrals for a 40-yard score.

It was Bizarro World stuff, to be certain. A line that had allowed five sacks gave him all kinds of fourth-quarter time to operate. Regardless of what went down the rest of the way, it was a really good story.

It just wasn’t great because the Bills couldn’t tackle after a booming, hangtimerrific punt by Brian Moorman. Such is life for the modern Bills fan. It sounds like we belong in a scientific study. Maybe we do.

- Lewis was supposed to be the storyline of this game all along, yet for a while the Buffalo Bills’ defense decided to rip the headlines from the young quarterback making his second career start.

Buffalo allowed 284 yards in the first half alone, including 107 on the ground, and it got worse during the early stages of the second half. Trailing by two scores, Lewis and the Bills had to all but abandon a running game that was serving them quite well.

- The Bills’ offensive coaches had three consecutive major lapses in judgment facing 2nd and goal from the 1-yard line to start the third quarter. Facing Cincinnati’s massive, athletic defensive front, Buffalo chose to turn around and hand-off on 2nd & 1 and 3rd & 1 before trying a roll-out pass play on 4th & 1.

The ball is three feet away from the end zone. Every quarterback in the league is taller than three feet tall. Keeper on second down. If it fails, keeper on third down. If that fails, which it won’t, keeper on fourth down.

Don’t choke trying to find a new way to chew.

- It turned out to be a 14-point swing as Cincinnati marched down the field to increase their 3-point lead to 10 on a Dalton to Giovani Bernard 20-yard touchdown. It really was the prime difference in the game.

- Of Lewis’ first nine passes, only two were incomplete and both were dropped. The first, to T.J. Graham, was an awful gaffe but the second to Chris Hogan looked to be a tough grab. Still… woah.

- Could Moorman’s first (in a while) effort for the Bills have been any better? After a rousing ovation upon the announcement that he was coming on to punt—which would’ve been weird in any other town with almost any other punter—Moorman sent a gorgeous, high coffin-corner kick that bounded out of play just inside of the 1-yard line. Initially, the referee refused to use his eyeballs but upon thinking about it and seeing cameras, they felt the utilization of vision was an excellent choice.

- There were some really bad calls in the contest, though I’m sure there were also some very good ones. Vontaze Burfict had a personal foul for tackling a Bill too hard. Kyle Williams received a taunting foul for yelling.

The worst, however, was on a Lewis deep ball intended for Marquise Goodwin. Bengals corner Adam “Pacman” Jones had an arm on Goodwin as the ball went through the receiver’s hands. You want Goodwin to make the catch anyway, but there have been more than a handful of pass interference calls this year that were less grievous than that.

- Jairus Byrd’s first play of the year found the Pro Bowl safety suckered, along with most of the Bills, by a reverse that Bengals receiver Marvin Jones took 34 yards.

- If you’re looking for an unofficial winner of the Colin Brown/Doug Legursky rotation, it was mostly Legursky. The cynic would say it was the Bengals, but Legursky was much better than Brown who was… well, not strong.

- Cincinnati punting on 4th-and-1 with 2:48 to go reminded me of Carolina’s decision to kick a field goal from 4th-and-1 in Week Two. Trust your line to get you less than three feet and get even closer to kneeling the game away.

- Thad Lewis’ first pass? A 47-yard hook-up with T.J. Graham that showed terrific timing after looking off Cincinnati’s safeties. Have to think that put more pep in both the Bills offense and defense, not to mention their coaching staff. The new guy shows up and delivers right away? That’s a recipe for confidence.

- Kiko Alonso was not at his usual otherworldly standards, but when a guy can make 22 tackles on an “off day,” you’ve got a pretty good linebacker.

- The Bills got free coffee touchdowns today, which is arguably as important as anything else.

Stat-line I liked:
Lewis, 19-of-32, 216 yards, 2 TD, 1 fumble lost
— Besides the comical, triple-take fumble, Lewis did enough against a stingy Bengals defense (one that kept Tom Brady TD-less for the first time in forever). Is he a world-beater? Who knows? But I’d bet the guy can keep the Bills in games.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
Cincinnati defense, 5 sacks
— Gotta be better in the middle.

Game ball:
Da’Norris Searcy
— 16 tackles and a sack for the surging safety.

Next week:
To Miami and the Marrone era’s first taste of the Dolphins-Bills series. It’s hard to picture Buffalo making that next step on the road but anything seems possible in this “only close games” new Bills era. I’m going to buck the trend. Look for Buffalo’s defense to look better and their offense to be about the same as the Bills get a road win, 24-23.

Lastly:
It could’ve been a whole lot worse.

TAGGED: buffalo bills, cincinnati bengals, football, immediate reactions, nick mendola, thad lewis

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  1. Charles Siegfried October 16, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Ha-ha!  Best article closer this year:

    Lastly:
    It could’ve been a whole lot worse.

    Classic Bills Fan Attitude!  And I agree, btw.

    Charles Siegfried's avatar