During the first half, the Bills ran all over the Bengals front seven, except when it mattered most. Andy Dalton caught fire, until he threw an interception in the waning minutes. And by the time the teams had entered the locker rooms, we had seen both teams get hot at different times. The score stood at 17-10 in favor of Cincinatti.
“I don’t know what the halftime message was for the Bills, but whatever it was, they weren’t listening.”
That was what one of the announcers had to say following the first five minutes of play by both teams. Those first five minutes of the second half were comprised of a fumble by quarterback Thaddeus Lewis that was recovered by Vontaze Burfict, a couple of third-and-long conversions by Cincinnati, and a Bengals touchdown pass from Dalton to Marvin Jones. What was a very close game was suddenly a two touchdown lead for the Bengals.
The following drive by the Buffalo Bills didn’t exactly do a great deal to bolster their momentum. Wallace Gilberry notched his third sack in two games, as the defense continued to show outstanding pass protection.
The offense on the other side of field remained hot for much of the rest of the game. A completion to Dane Sanzenbacher on 4th-and-15 kept a drive alive, but a penalty led to a missed field goal by Nugent on his second attempt.
The score stood at 24-10 through the remainder of the third quarter, and with 15 minutes to go and the Bills punting again, Cincinnati found itself in the driver’s seat for the second straight week, needing just to hold on to secure the win.
But four minutes later, it was Buffalo’s turn to go for it on 4th down again. This time, they needed eight yards to make it a one-score game. And with a 22 yard pass to Chandler, the two teams were now separated by a touchdown.
Two years ago, Andy Dalton captured his first 4th quarter comeback of his career against the then-undefeated Bills. An undrafted backup quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis now looked at the scoreboard and found himself in a situation to do just that against Cincinnati.
It went back to the missed field goal by Nugent. The Bengals had been unable to generate any offensive momentum since that point, as the Bills continued to build a case for a comeback.
Complacency was starting to settle in the Bengals 4th quarter execution, and although the Bengals took three minutes off of the clock, the Bills would get one more chance.
With 2:40 and the football in the hands of Thaddeus Lewis, the Bengals defense stepped up in a big way. A sack by Carlos Dunlap sen the Bills into the two minute warning still deep in their own territory. The same defense that plugged up Tom Brady wasn’t going to let a rookie beat them the following game.
But no one told the Bills that. Lewis takes the snap. Touchdown. Tie game. And minutes later, overtime.
Both teams touched the ball and had to punt, although the Bengals seemed to have most of the momentum on their drive. Brandon Tate put Cincinnati in great field position and Nugent was the one that finally came through with the 43 yarder.
Final score: Cincinnati 27, Buffalo 24. Dalton threw three touchdowns, all to different receivers, and the Bengals took over first place in the AFC North.
It’s never too early to control your own destiny.