Buffalo Bills crumble, fall to 5-4 against Cincinnati Bengals 24-18


A spirited comeback effort by the Buffalo Bills was ultimately thwarted as the Cincinnati Bengals proved victorious in a 24-18 win. Another disappointing, close loss for the Bills and the unfortunate reality is that the rest of the season isn’t any easier for them. They had chances to build an early lead in the division and fumbled it away multiple times, and now face  the unfortunate reality of the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL.

Below we’ll take a look at some players who turned in inspirational performances, a position that has some questions surrounding it, a player that requires a better performance, and a side of the ball (though maybe not the one you’re thinking of) that is leaving this particular author feeling a bit irked.

Inspire-Dalton Kincaid & Dion Dawkins:

Kincaid continued a strong run of performances, making himself a useful outlet for Allen and making plays after the catch. It’s been a positive development for him to come on at this point in the season, providing Josh Allen with another weapon to attack defenses. He played well against a tough defense that had players to matchup with him in theory, but Kincaid still found ways to make plays and uncover against coverages. Yes, a late fumble was unfortunate, and certainly something that needs to be corrected. That in itself should not overshadow what was an overall good game from the rookie Tight End, who finished the night with an impressive 10 catches for 81 yards. 

In addition, Dion Dawkins had a very difficult matchup against Trey Hendrickson of the Bengals, and Dawkins more than held his own. Hendrickson made plays, but largely after Dawkins executed his assignment. Dawkins has arguably been playing his best football as a pro, with Aaron Kromer widening his skill set, and refining some of his established technique. It’s been a very, very good season for Dawkins, and what he is doing now will translate extremely well in the future of his career. 

Inquire-The cornerback position:

After Tre White’s injury, there’s been a lot of shifting and changing at the cornerback position. 2022 first round pick Kaiir Elam was given a chance to start, and was promptly benched after a rough game against the Jaguars. Dane Jackson and Christian Benford were the clear favorites to start, but after a trade for Rasul Douglas at the trade deadline, it seems that the Bills are comfortable with Benford and Douglas as the starters. Douglas, despite being on the team for less than a week, rotated in with Jackson and seemed to generally be in position. Jackson had by far his best game of the season, making plays up and down the field for the Bills. Regardless, it seems the Bills want to rotate Jackson and Douglas to start off, but how long does that last? This isn’t like rotating running backs where you “ride the hot hand”, a defense has to be much more cognizant of how a player matches up to the skill player he’s defending. The Douglas-Jackson rotation will be a storyline worth watching moving forward.

Require-Josh Allen:

After it looked like the Bengals were going to run away with the win, blowing out the Bills after they scored very quickly in the first half. But after the defense settled down, they did a good job of stifling the Bengals for a lot of the game until they simply ran out of gas. The Bills offense, and especially Josh Allen, simply couldn’t get out of their own way or find opportunities to make plays. Make no mistake, this Bengals defense is very tough and very well coached, but they’re also not invulnerable. After the Bills defense started to get stops, there was very little reason for the Bills offense to not find some way to make plays and score points. After a certain point, everything looked hard for the Bills offense and especially for Allen in particular. Nothing came easy, and avoidable mistakes were made. For some reason or another, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has become the whipping boy for a lot of fans, and he obviously has a share in the problems the Bills offense has right now. That all said, not enough blame has been placed on Allen and his inability to find any sort of consistency with the weapons the Bills have surrounded him with. Not everything comes down to Allen alone, or Dorsey alone, or whatever individual is being put up as the sacrifice of the week after a tough loss. It’s a team game, and the offense shoulders the whole load. But Allen in particular has to play better right now, and he just isn’t. 

Irk-The Defense:

There’s a problem with the Bills defense. It’s not complicated, in fact it’s quite simple: they’ve suffered too many injuries to have any sort of stability on that side of the ball. The worst part? It’s not going to get better. It would be nice to be able to say that McDermott and co. will just cook up something to cover up the problems, and despite all the issues they had coming into this game, they actually held a very strong Bengals offense to 3 points in the 2nd half.. But asking the Bills to magically come up with a way to be better after their devastating injuries is akin to asking a nurse to use bactine and band-aids to treat your gunshot wounds. Losing multiple elite tier defenders at different levels of the defense is not something that gets covered up. DaQuan Jones allowed the Bills’ front seven to operate cleanly. A front seven that included one of the biggest playmakers at linebacker currently in the NFL. All of which was aided by a sticky cornerback who was an emotional leader. 

Those guys aren’t out there and they won’t be for the rest of the season. Bills fans, whether they have accepted it already or not, need to realize that this defense is not going to be the reason they win games. The defense has to simply try their best to not be the reason they lose games moving forward. 

The Bills return home to Buffalo to face the 3-5 Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. Another prime time game, and another opportunity for the Bills to beat a team that is clearly a step below them. Will they be able to do it and keep pace with the Dolphins and Jets for the division lead? Or will they stumble and fall short again?