Bengals hit rock bottom in 49-31 loss to Buffalo
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ryan Fitzpatrick matched his career high with four touchdown passes during Buffalo's biggest comeback in 13 years, and the Bills won their second straight game Sunday, 49-31 over the bumbling Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals (2-8) appeared to be in control after Johnathan Joseph's interception return put them ahead 28-7 in the second quarter. The Bengals' smallest crowd since 2003 saw a vintage collapse.
Buffalo (2-8) took advantage of Cincinnati's depleted secondary -- Joseph and safety Chris Crocker went out late in the first half -- for its biggest comeback since it overcame a 26-0 deficit and topped the Colts 37-35 on Sept. 21, 1997, according to STATS LLC.
Steve Johnson caught three of the touchdown passes, including an 11-yarder that put Buffalo ahead 35-31 early in the fourth quarter. Johnson finished with eight catches for 137 yards.
With the collapse, the Bengals secured their 18th non-winning record in the last 20 years. The only bright side: Cincinnati fans didn't get to see it on local television.
The Bengals failed to sell out a home game for the first time since 2003, when coach Marvin Lewis was in his first season. Those who showed up sensed the combined futility. A fan in a Bengals jersey wore a bag over his head that said "Bungles." Next to him sat a fan in an old Doug Flutie Bills jersey, wearing a bag over his head that said "Jills."
Even players understood the meaningless of the moment. Bengals receiver Terrell Owens had dubbed the matchup "the battle of the worst."
On this day, Cincinnati earned the distinction. The crowd of 55,654 gave one final boo and filed out after Aaron Pettrey missed a 43-yard field goal try with 5:28 left, essentially deciding it.
It was the Bengals' biggest collapse since November 12, 2006, when they led San Diego 28-7 at Paul Brown Stadium and lost 49-41, according to STATS.
Fitzpatrick's homecoming got off to a miserable start -- three first-half interceptions, though one of them was nullified by a penalty. He was Carson Palmer's backup for two years, before the Bengals kicked him to the curb.
Once he settled down, he outplayed his mentor. Fitzpatrick was 21 of 34 for 316 yards and his second four-touchdown game of the season. He has thrown touchdown passes in 11 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Bills quarterback since Flutie did it in 12 straight games in 1999.
By contrast, Palmer threw two interceptions during the second-half fade, including one in the end zone as he tried to get the ball to Owens. Palmer was 19 of 34 for 230 yards with two touchdowns -- to Owens and Chad Ochocinco -- and the two interceptions.
The Bengals had plenty of other pratfalls. Cedric Benson ran for 124 yards but fumbled for the fourth time this season. Drayton Florence picked up the ball and ran it back 27 yards for a touchdown that cut Cincinnati's lead to 31-28. Kevin Huber also shanked a punt, setting up Fitzpatrick's 32-yard TD pass to Johnson that made it 42-31.