Written by Paul Dehner, Joe Buscaglia, and Tim Graham
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated their AFC rival Buffalo Bills 24-18 on Sunday Night Football. Here’s what you need to know:
- Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow took the lead with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Irv Smith Jr. on the first drive of the game. Burrow completed 31-of-44 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns.
- Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 26 of 38 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The Bengals defense gave up two points.
- Bills linebacker Terrell Bernard left the game with a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. In the fourth quarter, Bills safety Micah Hyde left the game with a stinger.
- The Bengals improved to 5-3 on the season, while the Bills fell to 5-4.
Bengals will utilize tight ends
The Bengals have spent the last three weeks targeting Ja’Marr Chase, giving him three of the highest usage rates of his career. On Sunday, they made a deliberate move toward a forgotten and criticized position on the roster: tight end. Cincinnati entered the game with 20 receptions, 132 yards, and zero touchdowns among the four tight ends on its roster.
Against the Bills, he had 10 receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns. If Burrow can combine his already long list of threats with some real production from the position, this offense will reach full potential. — Paul Denner Jr., Bengals beat writer
Cincinnati continues to get off to a fast start.
A fast start will help the Bengals succeed. This team knows how to win games. No team has finished a better game over the last three years. After winning the toss, the Bengals elected to steal the ball and took off back-to-back touchdown drives. Over the last four games, he has scored seven touchdowns and one field goal on his first two drives. This is the first time since 2012 that the Bengals have scored touchdowns on their first drive in four consecutive games.
Zac Taylor and the offensive staff deserve credit for doing a great job scripting the early plays. After that, the Bengals defense followed the script, making stops and turnovers in the red zone to limit the damage. Playing from the front makes a big difference. — Denner
Bengals undefeated with Burrow fully healthy
The Bengals are 4-0 with Burrow at full strength, currently in the playoffs when the season ends today, and in the race to get to the top of the toughest division in football. As expected, Cincinnati was on the list of favorites to win at the midway point after overwhelming the top three teams, Seattle, San Francisco, and Buffalo. The uphill climb chasing Baltimore in the AFC North is on my mind right now. Thursday night’s matchup with the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in 10 days will be a must-win game for a chance at a third consecutive district title. — Denner
What went wrong for the Bills?
The Bills defense struggled as soon as they got on the field, and the Bengals had multiple first downs and sprinted to two early touchdowns on two drives. Despite Cincinnati having chances to score, slowly but surely the defense settled down and was able to hold the Bengals to just 10 points for the rest of the game.
The opposing Bills’ offense averaged 12.1 yards per play on the first drive and ran for a touchdown, but struggled mightily the rest of the way. The Bills were unable to get back into the end zone until late in the fourth quarter, losing two touchdowns. Despite the talent and potential on offense, four of the last five games have left a lot to be desired. — Joe Buscaglia, Bills Beat Writer
Rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid has officially become quarterback Josh Allen’s safety blanket. Since Buffalo lost incumbent starting tight end Dawson Knox to a wrist injury late last month, Kincaid is the best player on the roster with a 10-catch, 81-yard performance on just 11 targets against Cincinnati. established himself as one of the
As the Bills mounted a comeback, Kincaid suffered a costly fumble after being sent airborne in the red zone, but the Bills quickly returned to Kincaid on the next series. Kincaid has established himself as a mainstay on the offensive line and will need to continue to play a key role if they are to break out of their current slump. — buscaglia
Bills defensive woes
Buffalo’s defense is in tatters. It’s becoming increasingly unstable and less reliable when it matters most. After Allen and Stefon Diggs woke up and scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the lead to six points with 3:32 left, the Bengals wasted no time as the Bills desperately needed a stop. I made it.
The Bills had already lost several quality players, including linebacker/signal caller Bernard to a head injury early on. That left rookie Dorian Williams and largely underwhelming Tyrell Dodson to patrol the second level against one of the NFL’s most savvy offenses. Micah Hyde had to leave the field in the second and fourth quarters. Cornerback Dane Jackson had to leave the game with 2:37 left.
New defensive tackle Linval Joseph made a dramatic first impression, theatrically stuffing Burrow on a second-and-inch quarterback sneak, sparking a sequence that turned an almost certain field goal into a punt. However, the Bills defense had more ineffective plays.
Von Miller remains invisible. He did not record any statistics. I had a chance to record the first tackle in an important situation. With the two-minute warning forcing him to stop a third-and-three, Miller could have dropped Joe Mixon into the backfield for a loss. Mixon outran him for a 5-yard gain and stopped the game. — Tim Graham, Buffalo Senior Writer
Bengals beat Bills
Buffalo had the upper hand. Sure, the Bills had a few bad officiating breaks and fought back late, but Cincinnati was the much better team, scoring on the first possession of the game and never trailing for the rest of the game. It never happened.
The Bills had a chance to regain first place in the AFC East, but they are currently 2-4 in the conference and are in serious tiebreaker trouble with a tough schedule ahead.
Allen led Buffalo 85 yards and a touchdown on the first drive, but the rest of the first half was a disaster. The slow start story arc was quickly undone as the Bills’ other four possessions lasted 14 plays and traveled 45 yards. At halftime, Allen had completed 9 of 15 throws for 120 yards and one interception.
Allen did not score from the 6:00 mark of the first quarter to the 1:30 mark of the second quarter. The stretch also included an interception and a sack.
Allen and the offense were great in the second half. He went 17 of 23 for 138 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion, both wins over Diggs. Allen ran the ball seven times for 42 yards after halftime.
But it was already too late.
Oh, and Gabriel Davis had two goals: an interception and an overthrow in the end zone. — graham
The Bengals have scored a total of three points on the opening possession in the first four games combined, and have scored an opening drive touchdown in four consecutive games.
(Photo: Jeff Dean/Getty Images)