ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — The Bills season started this year with aspirations of finally winning the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy.
It ended with yet another disappointing playoff defeat. This time at their home stadium as the Bengals beat the Bills 27-10.
This is the fourth straight year the Bills have lost in the playoffs, and the second straight year they lost in the divisional round.
Joe Burrow led the Bengals on two touchdown drives to open the game and Cincinnati never looked back. Burrow finished the game with 242 yards passing and those two scores, plus another 31 yards on the ground.
The Bills had no answers for anything the Bengals did on offense, despite the team playing without three of their starting offensive linemen. The absence of DaQuan Jones likely contributed to allowing Cincy 172 yards rushing, including 105 to Joe Mixon alone.
Josh Allen was able to get the Bills within a score in the second quarter, capping off a 15-play drive with a QB sneak, but that was as close as they would get.
“Obviously, you wanna win all of them,” Allen said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. They had a good game plan. They came out they played hard. We just didn’t have it today.”
Cincinnati answered the Bills’ TD with a field goal late in the first half. Buffalo had a chance to score twice around halftime, but a two minute drive in the second quarter stalled at the Cincy 41. The Bills then failed to find the end zone after a first and goal. They settled for three points and a 17-10 deficit.
Burrow waltzed the Bengals downfield on another 12-play scoring drive. Mixon capped it with a 1-yard plunge Cincinnati had to challenge and have overturned. The TD gave the Bengals a 24-10 lead with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.
A Bills 3-and-out following a Gabe Davis drop on third down gave the Bengals an opportunity for a three-score lead. Even McPherson hit a 20-yard chippy that closed the scoring for the day. Buffalo failed on a fourth down at the Bengals 16 yard-line on their next drive and that was the game.
“We didn’t execute offensively, defensively. Special team today. It’s a recipe for disaster,” Matt Milano said. “Gotta get back to the drawing board, and face those problems.”
The Bengals finished the regular season 29th in rushing yards and rush yards per attempt. The 172-yard total against Buffalo was their second-best of the season. In addition, the patchwork offensive line allowed only one sack.
“The challenge with that offense is you commit to stopping the run and then they have three really good receivers that are one-on-one tough matchups for you,” Sean McDermott said. “I thought we came in with a good game plan and we adjusted through it. At the end of the day, it wasn’t enough.”
Those three talented Cincy receivers combined for only nine catches, 112 yards, and one touchdown. Tight end Hayden Hurst added five grabs for 59 yards and another score.
Allen ended the game 25-42 for 265 yards and one garbage-time interception. His 26 yards rushing on eight carries led Buffalo in rushing. Devin Singletary and James Cook combined for 37 yards on 11 carries.
Dawson Knox was the Bills best receiver with five receptions for 65 yards. Stefon Diggs was held to only four catches and 35 yards on ten targets.
There was plenty of blame to go around for the Bills after this dreadful loss.
“We all had our time in the sun in regards to not playing complementary football,” Mitch Morse said. “Not putting our defense in the advantageous position, or special teams. You win as a team. You lose as a team. All these cliches are a lot harder when you know, it’s the conclusion of a season. The conclusion of a group of guys being together that you really care for.”