Bengals 6-0 entering bye; Bills scramble for healthy players
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Andy Dalton and the Bengals enter their bye week secure in knowing their multi-threat offense has played a big role in Cincinnati matching its best start in franchise history.
”It’s huge,” Dalton said of the Bengals’ 6-0 record following his three-touchdown performance in a 34-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. ”You want to win every game that you play, so we just have to keep it going.”
It’s an altogether different story for the win-one-then-lose-one Bills (3-3), who traveled to London immediately following the loss in search of healthy players – with valid passports – to plug a banged-up lineup.
”It’s not easy, logistically.” general manager Doug Whaley told The Associated Press, looking ahead to Buffalo facing Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium next weekend. ”First of all you’ve got to make sure they have a passport, so it’s going to put us in a bind.”
As if the Bills weren’t in one already following a game in which receiver Sammy Watkins hurt his left ankle while making a 22-yard touchdown catch, defensive tackle Kyle Williams was carted off after hurting his left knee and starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson sustained a possible concussion.
And don’t forget that Buffalo was already missing receiver Percy Harvin (hip) and forced to start backup quarterback EJ Manuel in place of Tyrod Taylor, who sprained his left knee.
The Bengals blew the game open by scoring 17 points on their first three drives of the second half in building a 34-14 lead. Cincinnati, which also opened the 1988 and `75 seasons 6-0, is off until playing at Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.
Here’s a number of things that stood out:
SPREADING THE BALL: With the Bills focusing their coverage on receiver A.J. Green, Dalton turned his attention his other offensive threats, including Marvin Jones, who had a career-best nine catches for 95 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. Tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Jeremy Hill also scored touchdowns receiving, while Giovani Bernard scored on a 17-yard run.
”We have a different swagger,” said Green, who had no problem being limited to four catches for 36 yards.
MANUEL TRANSITION: The Bills’ offense sputtered after Manuel capped the game-opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. On its next four possessions, Buffalo combined for 7 yards and 0 first downs.
Making his first start in over a year, Manuel finished 28 of 42 for 263 yards with a touchdown and interception on a poorly underthrown pass directed at Chris Hogan that was picked off by Darqueze Dennard.
It was the second-most yards passing for Manuel, though 126 came on Buffalo’s final two drives.
FIELD POSITION: Penalties, sloppy special team play and Manuel’s interception allowed the Bengals to enjoy an average drive start of midfield in the first half.
The Bengals, however, were limited to scoring just 17 points despite having three first-half possessions begin in Buffalo territory.
The Bills were flagged eight times for 93 yards. That included a taunting call against cornerback Ron Brooks on a punt return, allowing the Bengals to start at Buffalo’s 49 and led to their first touchdown. Buffalo entered the game with an NFL-leading 54 penalties for 490 yards.
”Still too many penalties, dumb penalties,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said.
MCCOY ON THE RUN: LeSean McCoy had 17 carries for a season-best 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown, in his first game after missing two with a pulled left hamstring. With a 10-yard run in the third quarter, McCoy became the NFL’s 61st player to surpass the 7,000-yard plateau.
BY THE SACKFUL: Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap had 1 1/2 sacks to up his team-leading total to 6 1/2. Cincinnati now has 17 this season – three short of matching last year’s total.
The Bills were held without a sack for just the second time in their past 35 games.
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