The Bills overcame a two-touchdown second half deficit with 14 unanswered points to close out the fourth quarter and force overtime. In the end field position favored the Bengals and on their second possession of the extra session Mike Nugent put a 43-yard attempt through the uprights for a 27-24 win over Buffalo.
"A lot of things were going in a tough direction, but the players came back, they stood in there and they fought," said head coach Doug Marrone. "We got it back and had an opportunity to win the game, we weren't able to do that and really all three phases can contribute as well as the coaches. We're going to go in there and just keep working and keep fighting. It's going to turn. That's all we can keep doing."
Cincinnati had the first overtime possession after winning the coin toss, but a Marcell Dareus sack on 2nd-and-8 at the Bills 40 forced a 3rd-and-15, which the Bengals failed to convert. Buffalo however, was pinned inside their own 10-yard line on the next series needing just a field goal to win.
But the Bills went three and out. The Cincinnati punt return that followed covered 29 yards staking the Bengals to their best drive start of the game at the Buffalo 33. Four plays later Nugent provided the winning points dropping Buffalo to 2-4 on the season.
"We went out there and started out kind of slow," said Leodis McKelvin. "I can say even though we scored on the first drive, we started out slow. Not how we really wanted to. We picked it up as the game went along, we fought very hard, we got back into the game. We have to grab these close wins that we have. We gotta be able to pull these ones out."
Buffalo had the ball down a touchdown with two minutes remaining at their own 28 facing a 3rd-and-6. Fred Jackson converted a short reception over the middle to move the chains. Two plays later Lewis found Scott Chandler over the middle for a 25-yard pass play to move the Bills into Bengals territory.
On the very next play, Lewis uncorked a bomb deep down the right side of the field to a wide open Marquise Goodwin, who slipped behind his defender for a 40-yard touchdown reception to tie the game with 1:08 remaining.
"We had four verticals (routes) and I saw (Terence) Newman peeking in the backfield. He peeked for a second and Marquise released inside and stacked him back up and got width," said Lewis. "You want to get the ball to one of the fastest guys on the field so I threw the ball and he made a great catch."
Cincinnati had just a timeout in their back pocket and a drive start at their own 28, but went three and out giving the ball back to Buffalo with 12 seconds left in regulation. Armed with all three timeouts and possession at their own 13-yard line, the Bills chose to take a knee to head to overtime.
The touchdown deficit was the situation at the start of the second half for the Bills. Down 17-10 to start the third quarter, Buffalo's opening possession of the second half looked promising. A 19-yard run by C.J. Spiller moved the Bills out to midfield, but on a 3rd-and-6 three plays later Thad Lewis on a scramble out of the pocket was hit from behind by Carlos Dunlap and fumbled.
Cincinnati recovered and made Buffalo pay as Andy Dalton his Marvin Jones for a 10-yard touchdown reception to finish off a nine-play scoring drive early in the third quarter. The score put the Bengals up by 14 (24-10).
Lewis and the offense moved the ball at times, but drives stalled often before Buffalo reached the Cincinnati red zone until the fourth quarter. He finished the game 19-32 passing for 216 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He was sacked five times.
"I think I did okay," said Lewis, who came out of the game with a sprained foot. "It's never good when you don't come out with a 'W'. That's the whole reason you play this game to win. We did okay. We saw some things that we can do better as a team and we'll watch the film and correct the mistakes. We're right there."
Handed prime field position by the defense and special teams at the Cincinnati 45, Buffalo on 3rd-and-17 at the Bengals 31, determined they were in two-down territory. After Fred Jackson picked up nine yards on a catch and run, Lewis found Scott Chandler down the seam as he slipped behind his defender for a 22-yard touchdown reception (24-17).
Buffalo's defense stiffened in the fourth quarter. They forced Cincinnati three-and-out after the punt unit pinned the Bengals at their own five-yard line. That led to the Chandler touchdown. On the next Cincinnati series they forced a five-and-out to get the ball back for the offense with 7:13 remaining.
Unfortunately Lewis and the offense went three-and-out as well holding the ball just over a minute of game clock.
The Bills defense held Cincinnati to a field goal drive on their opening possession and Buffalo's offense came out with an impressive first series. With Thad Lewis at quarterback in his second career NFL start, he hit T.J. Graham on the third play of the drive for a 47-yard pass play. Three plays later Lewis took a quarterback draw three yards for a touchdown to give Buffalo a first quarter lead (7-3).
Cincinnati answered with a lengthy drive of their own marching 83 yards on eight plays. The big play coming on a wide receiver screen from Andy Dalton to Marvin Jones that covered 42 yards to the Buffalo 28. Dalton capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green, who leaped above Leodis McKelvin in coverage to make the reception (10-7).
Buffalo was in position to retake the lead on the ensuing possession, but Cincinnati came up with a huge goal line stand that bridged the first and second quarters. After a 13-yard run by Tashard Choice set up 1st-and-goal at the Cincinnati two-yard line, Buffalo could not punch it into the end zone on three straight plays gaining a yard before a pair of no gain rushes. On 4th-and-goal head coach Doug Marrone elected to go for it. A designed rollout by Lewis however, was foiled by great penetration by the Bengals.
Lewis' intended receiver was covered, and the Bills quarterback was stopped at the two-yard line in an attempt to tuck and run for the goal line for a turnover on downs.
Making the inability to score even more painful, Cincinnati took possession and covered the 98 in front of them on nine plays. Giovanni Bernard took a short pass over the middle, juked out three defenders and carried a fourth into the end zone for a 20-yard catch and run for a touchdown (17-7) midway through the second quarter.
Buffalo chipped away at Cincinnati's 10-point lead with a 10-play field goal drive with Dan Carpenter connecting on a 51-yard attempt (17-10) to go to the locker room down a touchdown at halftime.
"We've just got to make plays, each and every one of us out there on the field at any given time," said Mario Williams. "We've just got to find a way to make plays, get more turnovers, especially in this situation where it was close again. We have to step up and defense and make them kick field goals."
The Bills travel to Miami to resume division play next Sunday to face the Dolphins for a 1 pm kickoff.