Buffalo Blunders in 44-31 loss to Bengals

The Buffalo Bills committed four first-half turnovers with quarterback J.P. Losman responsible for three, and the giveaways led directly to 20 Cincinnati points.

Willis McGahee's opening drive fumble was returned 72 yards for a touchdown by Dexter Jackson, and a Losman interception was returned 26 yards for a TD by Keiwan Ratliff. Losman later lost a pair of fumbles that led to two Shayne Graham field goals in the final two minutes of the first half that extended Cincinnati's halftime lead to 27-17.

It's not that the Bills offense was inept. Buffalo chewed up 197 of its 366 yards on five plays. But the timing of the Bills turnovers was devistating. The Bengals scored two defensive touchdowns and then sacked and stripped quarterback J.P. Losman twice in the final 2:07 of the first half to stun the Bills first-team offense for 20 points.

For most of the first half, the Bills were matching the Bengals with big plays of their own. McGahee's 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter tied the game at 7-7. The play came just minutes after a McGahees fumble. Buffalo took a 10-7 lead on the second play of a wild second quarter when Rian Lindell kicked a 51-yard field goal.

Bengals wasted no time in answering back. The Bengals' offensive regulars, who played without quarterback Carson Palmer and starting tackles Levi Jones and Willie Anderson, did have one impressive drive. Quarterback Anthony Wright capped a 12-play, 61-yard march by firing a 9-yard strike to wide receiver Chad Johnson. On the second play of the Bills' ensuing drive, Losman telegraphed a pass to his right and threw it right into the arms of Cincinnati's Keiwan Ratliff, who waltzed in for a 26-yard TD.

Just as McGahee quicky attoned for his miscue, Losman did the same. On his first play after the pick, Losman hit Lee Evans over the middle for 22 yards. Two plays later, he threw a perfect bomb to Evans for a 46-yard TD, bringing the Bills closer, 21-17.

After the Bills forced the Bengals 3-and-out, the Bills offense again self destructed. Losman fumbled the ball away twice on sacks on back to back drives with less than 4 minutes left in the half, leading to two Shayne Graham field goals and a 27-17 halftime deficit. That would be all for Losman, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Lee Evans finished with three grabs for 117 yards and a score in an impressive debut as the Bills undisputed #1 WR, replacing the departed Eric Moulds. McGahee finished Friday's game with an impressive nine carries for 88 yards, leaving the game midway through the first quarter due to a minor stomach illness.

The Bengals broke the game open in the third quarter. Third string QB Doug Johnson led a trio of scoring drives against the Bills second defense that looked a far cry from the unit that impressed the previous week on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The score mushroomed to 44-17 as Johnson threw a 3-yard TD pass to Chris Manderino and ran for a 4-yard score, while Graham kicked his third field goal.

Craig Nall made his quarterbacking debut for Buffalo in the fourth quarter and, following a Cincinnati turnover, he threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to fullback Alan Ricard, then directed a late 73-yard drive that ended with Fred Jackson's 4-yard TD run on 4th and goal in the final minute.

Game Notes and Quotes-

- Rian Lindell again impressed with a 51 yard FG. He's 3-3 with two 50+ yard FGs in the preseason, and the third clocked in at "mere" 45 yards.

- Willis McGahee was removed midway through the first quarter after a minor stomach bug. He reportedly did not eat very well and had difficulty hydrating. He was removed as a precautionary measure.

- "It was very disappointing; you can see what happens when you turn the ball over," said coach Dick Jauron. "You can't win a lot of games doing that. Thankfully it's the preseason."

-"I really like the way they are blocking up front. We looked real good. It's just taking care of the little things now." Willis McGahee.

"We have the potential to do a lot of good things, the main goal right now is consistency, consistency, consistency. At times we did good things in the first half and at times we didn't. It's already hard enough to win in this league. Then you beat yourself, it puts more pressure on you." - Bills WR Lee Evans


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories