Three things were painfully apparent in the Bills’ 23-20 loses to the Bengals. The offense failed to control the tempo, the defense was very average and the NFL referees are nothing short of incompetent.
In a game the Bills led by 14, the Buffalo offense failed to generate any steam and was pushed around for much of the afternoon. The biggest failure was not establishing the running game early. It seemed as if their big offensive numbers had the coaching staff over confident in the passing game and they abandoned thief meal ticket, Fred Jackson.
Leaving Jackson in the garage let the Bengals tee off on the pass rush and make Ryan Fitzpatrick very uncomfortable. This was the first game that the offensive line was overwhelmed with a pass rush. It was reflected in every aspect of the offense.
With no running attack, Fitzpatrick was left to force throws, something that is not among his strengths. That made for a stagnant offense that couldn’t produce when it mattered. Their long third quarter scoring drive was efficient and balanced. Unfortunately they couldn’t duplicate those results.
Defensively, the Bills looked particularly effective in the first half. They forced
three two turnovers and even created pressure on Andy Dalton. The run defense was stout and they even put two touchdowns points on the board.
The second half was a study in Jekyll and Hyde as the run defense disappeared and the coverage went to hell as A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham made the secondary look silly.
The biggest flaw was the inability to get a stop when it matters. A stop on the Bengals final drive would have likely equalled a sure win as the offense could have ground out the clock. Or course, the Bengals ran it down the Bills throats and kicked an easy game winning field goal.
There is no debating the poor officiating in this game. There were numerous missed calls on holding, illegal contact and pass interference. The pass interference calls are tough to decide on, but holding and illegal contact are obvious violations.
People want to know why Shawne Merriman only has one sack. It is because he gets bear hugged on nearly every play. The same goes for Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. the defense had enough struggles without needing such an obvious competitive disadvantage thrown their way. I understand that there is a holding call on every play, but there were obvious situations that went uncalled.
Then there is the “tuck rule” and the Stevie Johnson “catch”. The ruling on the “tuck rule” pretty much aligned with the wording of the rule. However, the fact that an official rule revolves around a QB “changing his mind” is preposterous. It is either black or white, you can’t involve emotion I these things. It was pretty clear that Dalton was trying to absorb the sack, therefore it should have been a fumble. No doubt.
Of course the incomplete pass call reeked of a fixed game. A short completion on a well throw ball should have kept the Bills on the move and possibly could have resulted in the points that but the Bengals away.
Rather, the back judge made a nearly blind call that could not be overturned in replay. Even though it was pretty clear that Johnson’s forearm was under the ball on the turf. It doesn’t cost the Bills the game, but it was as close as you could get. Just a bad call all around.
Still, the Bills did more than enough to lose this game. They didn’t execute on either side of the ball and let the Bengals back from a 14-point deficit. Philly will present an equally difficult challenge on Sunday. The Eagles are going to be desperate for a win and their defensive line should offer a similar test that the Bengals d-line did.