The Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) entered a playoff atmosphere when they visited the Buffalo Bills. The Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd was unruly and loud at times. But the adrenaline eventually wore off. Cincinnati successfully defended their unbeaten record and matched the best start in franchise history. The Bengals beat the Bills 34-21.
The Bengals watched EJ Manuel and the Bills march down the field on their shocked defense. The Bills used less than six minutes to drive 80 yards in 11 plays. When Manuel waltzed into the right side of the end zone, the Bengals realized they were going to be involved in a firefight. A convoy of blockers paved the way for the score and Buffalo eventually went up 7-0 with the extra point.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals had great field position for their first drive of the day. Adam Jones returned the kickoff 49 yards to give the Bengals offense a short field. But the Bengals didn’t take advantage of Jones’ gift and had to punt. The crowd noise seemed to cause miscommunication between Dalton and his receivers.
The Buffalo Bills (3-3) lead the league in penalties called against them. The Bengals were able to capitalize on that statistic when a 15-yard taunting foul was called on the punt return, after the Bills stalled on offense. The Bengals took over and moved the ball with ease. Jeremy Hill took a quick pass in the flat, put some beautiful moves on the Buffalo defense, and flipped into the end zone. The Bengals were not going to go down that easy. The acrobatic move capped a 49-yard, seven-play drive. Score tied 7-7
Jones’ big day for the Bengals comes courtesy of double coverage on A.J. Green. As reported by ESPN, Jones told Dalton to look his way at the beginning of the third quarter.
“I told Andy to just throw it because I’m going to run and get it,” Jones said, referring to his 42-yard, over-the-shoulder catch that eventually set up his 10-yard touchdown on the Bengals opening drive of the second half.
“If you’re going to take away one person, we’ve got six, seven other people that can do the job. And it went my way.”
On second-and-four from the Buffalo 1o-yard line, Marvin Jones was lined up wide right. On a wide receiver screen, Jones caught a quick pass from Dalton and turned it into a circus score. He balanced himself on one hand and did a cartwheel into the end zone. The Bengals went up 24-14 and never looked back. The Bengals blew the game open by scoring 17 points on their first three drives of the second half.
Though the Bengals won the game they lost big elsewhere. Linebacker Vincent Rey was carted off the field with an ankle injury. His injury is a significant one since he had recently stepped up to be the defensive signal caller for Cincinnati. His loss could be huge in the absence of Vontaze Burfict. Until either of them can return, the Bengals will have to depend on P.J. Dawson to fill the gap.
[Feature Image by Brett Carlsen / Getty Images]