Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills
October, 13, 2013
By Mike Rodak | ESPN.com
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 27-24 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
What it means: The Bills couldn't overcome a rocky start by their defense, which allowed 284 yards in the first half. Buffalo got a solid performance from Thad Lewis, starting in place of an injured EJ Manuel, but the offense sputtered in overtime. The Bengals won the field position battle in the extra frame, winning the game on a 43-yard Mike Nugent field goal. Another tough home loss for the Bills, who dropped a similar game in Week 1 to the New England Patriots.
Lewis proves capable: Lewis, making his second career start, wasn't spectacular against a stout Bengals defense, but more than proved he should keep the job going forward. Lewis' first pass was a 47-yard completion, the Bills' longest offensive play this season, and he capped the opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Lewis finished 19-of-32 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, better than most of Manuel's performances this season. On the negative end, Lewis fumbled on a third-quarter scramble, which the Bengals turned into a touchdown.
Stock watch: Rising -- the punt unit (in regulation). The Bills swapped out second-year punter Shawn Powell for veteran Brian Moorman last week, a move that shored up a reeling punt unit. Moorman averaged 47 net yards on his four punts in regulation, two of which were downed inside the Bengals' 5-yard line. The longtime Bills punter received loud cheers when he stepped onto the field. However, Moorman's 51-yard fourth-quarter punt, with the Bills backed up against their end zone, was returned 29 yards by Brandon Tate, setting up the game-winning field goal.
Gilmore, Byrd quiet in returns: The Bills had two of their top defenders back, but neither made an impact in the game. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore played with a large club covering his injured left hand and struggled at times tackling. He rotated at cornerback with Aaron Williams. Meanwhile, safety Jairus Byrd was limited in his first game this season. Byrd served as the third safety behind Da'Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard, who came away with the Bills' only interception of the game.
What's next: The Bills fall to 2-4 as they prepare for back-to-back road trips to face the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints to close out the first half of their season. After Sunday, the Bills will play just three more times at Ralph Wilson Stadium this season, and only twice before Dec. 22.