Mike Gillislee kept the offense on track and picked up key yardage after LeSean McCoy went down with an injury in the first half of Sunday's game.
That sentence has been written in some form or another several times over the course of the last two seasons and was on full display again against the Bengals.
McCoy dislocated his thumb on Buffalo's final drive of the first half and did not return. Although he is not expected to miss much time with the injury, the Bills were happy to see Gillislee again step up in the short-term.
Often overlooked, the man his teammates call "Touchdown Mike" didn't find the back of the end zone on Sunday, but finished with 14 carries for 72 yards, featuring some very important yards down the stretch.
Rex Ryan made a gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Cincinnati 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Bills handed it to Gillislee who ran straight ahead for five yards to move the chains. The Bills would still end up settling for a field goal on the drive, but took more than three extra minutes off the clock after Gillislee's successful conversion. "We practice those situations at practice and then you know me, I'm the guy that when I get the ball I want to score," Gillislee said. "So, I had to think about getting the first down that time and I was able to get the first down."
Gillislee is averaging 5.8 yards per rush on the season and picked up four first downs in the second half.
In addition to Gillislee's solid final 30 minutes, the Bills also relied on rookie Jonathan Williams. Williams chipped in for 26 yards on four carries, and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn wasn't afraid to give him the ball down the stretch.
Williams had 18 yards on Buffalo's final drive of the game and picked up a critical first down to force the Bengals to burn timeouts. Those 26 yards on Sunday were the most of Williams' career.
RELATED: BILLS WIN CLOSE ONE IN CINCY "We got everything (the running backs) got and that's what everybody on this team gives you and that was good enough today," Ryan said. "Hopefully it will be good enough going forward."
Tyrod Taylor also provided his usual elusiveness in running for yards out of the pocket and also helped the Bills in their option attacks. Taylor rushed nine times for 39 yards. Taylor now has 401 rushing yards for the season.
Buffalo's rushing attack as a whole was able to take advantage of a Cincinnati defense that came into the game allowing 116.8 rushing yards per game, which was 24th in the NFL. Despite all of the yards, the Bengals had only allowed seven rushing touchdowns through the first eight games.
Despite allowing McCoy to score on a seven-yard rush on Buffalo's first drive, the Bengals were able to hold the Bills from scoring on two separate drives inside the five. That was one of the only blemishes on the run game and contributed to the offense struggling to put up points as a whole.
"We've just got to be better on the offensive side in the red zone," Taylor said. "We knew that we needed touchdowns in the red zone versus field goals. Anytime you get that close you want to finish with seven points and that's kind of disappointing, but it's a team effort. The defense had our back and we were able to go out there and move the ball as well too."
Gillislee started for McCoy against the Patriots in Week 8 this season and rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. In the only other start of his career--Week 16 last season--he rushed for 93 yards on nine carries and added another touchdown.
Gillislee said that he and Williams try to prepare the same way that McCoy does, knowing that they are next in line if he goes down.
"That's always bad to see LeSean go down, but I prepare the same way as him," Gillislee said. "I was prepared and when my number's called, I'm always ready."
A 16-12 game didn't get the Bills any style points, but they were able to get the upper hand in a must-win game with a lot of their offensive talents missing. "We kept grinding, and that's what you have to do," Ryan said. "You have to play to the strength of your players and I thought we did that."