This is how games are supposed to be won on the road.
Eat yards, run out the clock and score points when the opportunities present themselves. That's what Cincinnati did in the third quarter, stringing together a 17-play drive that gained 64 yards and milked 8:26 off the clock.
By no means was it a traditional possession, but it was balanced with balls. Cincinnati had a fourth-and-15 from the Bills 34-yard line with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter. The Bengals initially brought out Mike Nugent but then Marvin Lewis called a timeout and sent the offense back on the field. Dalton lobs the football over the defense to Dane Sanzenbacher, who makes the one-handed grab for the 23-yard reception and the first down.
Cincinnati was unable to score the eventual touchdown, but Mike Nugent converted the 24-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 27-10 lead. . Wait. No. An offensive hold by Alex Smith forced Nugent to convert a 34-yarder. Still, it's a simple chip-shot for someone like Nugent. Except he pushed it wide right and the Bengals maintained a 24-10 lead with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter. This would have an undesired impact later in the game.
Despite failing to score points, the Bengals wiped out eight minutes and 26 seconds off the third quarter clock, helping to give Cincinnati's defense a breather after a run-heavy Buffalo offense that generated 74 yards rushing in the first quarter alone.
It was then that the defense cashed their checks.
On the first play in the second quarter, the Bills have second and goal from the Bengals one-yard line. Vontaze Burfict and James Harrison combined to hold Jackson for a no-gain. Buffalo, juiced with determination to generate a yard, called Jackson's number again. This time it was Vincent Rey and Taylor Mays that stuffed Jackson for a no-gain. Instead of a chip-shot field goal, the Bills decided to go for it on fourth down. Thad Lewis takes the snap and scrambles but loses a yard when linebacker James Harrison wrapped Lewis at the two-yard line.
No points. And the legend of Mike Zimmer reaches levels of William Wallace; except we're pretty sure that Wallace would draw inspiration from Zimmer.
Cincinnati began their ensuing possession applying a conservative approach, calling BenJarvus Green-Ellis' number on three consecutive possessions. And unlike the complaints generated against the Packers and Patriots, Green-Ellis' runs were effective, picking up 12 yards and the first down. A handful of plays later, including a 54-yard reception by A.J. Green on a bubble screen, Giovani Bernard strafed through Buffalo's defense on an improvised shovel pass from Andy Dalton to take a 17-7 lead with 8:42 remaining in the second quarter.
Yet, the Bengals were unable to put the game away.
It all started when cornerback (and part-time punt returner) Adam Jones attempted to return a punt from the Bengals five-yard line. Once he secured the hot potato, Jones was tackled and the Bengals offense were driven back to the two-yard line before Green-Ellis' five-yard third down run gave Kevin Huber some breathing room to punt the football from the seven-yard line. Unfortunately, it wasn't the same booming kick that Huber had against the Patriots last week, giving Buffalo a decided advantage in field position.
Buffalo opened their ensuing possession from the Bengals 45-yard line with 12:46 remaining in the game. The Bills generated a handful of first downs before a nine-yard swing pass to Fred Jackson dropped Buffalo eight yards short of the first down marker.
Instead of kicking the field goal from the Bengals 22-yard line to reduce Cincinnati's lead to an 11-point advantage (which would be stupid at this point), the Bills went for it on fourth and eight with 10:17 remaining. Thad Lewis hits a wide-open Scott Chandler down the middle of the field for a 22-yard touchdown, reducing the Bengals lead 24-17 with 10:13 remaining in the fourth. Now we've pushed a field goal wide right and a failed assignment opened a massive lane for an easy touchdown.
Unfortunately the Bengals offense completely shut down in the fourth quarter, running 18 plays and generating only 37 yards that gained three first downs; all four possessions ended with a punt.
Buffalo, on the other hand, was about to tie the game.
A handful of gains eventually set up a second and ten from the Bills 35-yard line with 1:41 remaining in the game. Thad Lewis stood in the pocket, for what seemed like a million seconds, eventually finding a wide open Scott Chandler over the middle for a 25 yard gain. On the following play, Lewis launched the football deep down the right sidelines where Marquise Goodwin had badly beaten Terence Newman for the touchdown, tying the game at 24 with a minute remaining in the game.
Cincinnati quickly moved downfield on a 19-yard pass to Marvin Jones to the Bengals 28-yard line. All they needed was a field goal to win the game. Unfortunately a five-yard loss on a screen pass to Giovani Bernard forced the Bengals to use their final timeout. Dalton threw incomplete passes on consecutive downs and were forced to punt with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and the game was eventually sent into overtime.
The Bengals won the coin toss and opened their first overtime possession from their 23-yard line, but A.J. Green was called for an offensive hold that pushed Cincinnati back to their own 13-yard line. Green helped recover with a 12-yard reception on a quick hook over the middle, setting up a second and eight from the 25-yard line at the 13:54 mark. Dalton completed a beautiful timing route 10-yard pass through a microscopic windows to Mohamed Sanu, picking up the first down. Giovani Bernard added a 23-yard reception on a swing pass to the Bills 42-yard line.
Kevin Huber eventually kicked the football to Buffalo's seven-yard line once Cincinnati's possession stalled after Dalton took a quarterback sack, but Buffalo was forced to punt it back to Cincinnati after going three-and-out. Brian Moorman out-kicked his coverage, allowing Tate to settle under the punt behind Cincinnati's blocks. Tate returned the football 29 yards to the Bills 33-yard line.
Who would have thought that Jones would put the Bengals in a pickle, only to watch Tate with one of the biggest plays of the game.
Cincinnati called three straight runs, picking up eight yards to the 25-yard line. Mike Nugent converted the 43-yard field goal to give Cincinnati the 27-24 win in overtime, improving their record to 4-2.
- Andy Dalton answered critics this week with a solid three-touchdown performance. Though he did throw an interception and those same critics will argue most of Dalton's production came off yards after the catch, it was a solid performance from Dalton; though those same inconsistency traits showed up. In the end, Dalton completed 65 percent of his passes, threw three touchdowns and generated a passer rating of 105.9.
- The Bengals offense generated 284 yards in the first half, helping Cincinnati build a 17-10 lead in the first half. They also converted six of their first nine third down opportunities. Cincinnati finished with 483 yards.
- Green posted his best game since generated 162 yards and two touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. Green caught six passes against the Bills for 103 yards receiving and a beautiful touchdown reception over cornerback McKelvin.
- Great day by Marvin Jones. Posted 76 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter (34-yard run, 42-yard catch). Jones added a block that sprang Mohamed Sanu free for a first down and later added a touchdown to give the Bengals a 24-10 lead.
- Giovani Bernard finished with 110 yards from scrimmage, largely the result from his 72 yards receiving on six receptions. He also scored a touchdown. Running the football was a bit of a struggle, posting 28 yards rushing on 15 carries.
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis posted his best game of the season, generating 86 yards rushing on 18 carries.
- Vontaze Burfict led the team in tackles (11) and personal fouls (3).
- Carlos Dunlap finished with a quarterback sack and forced fumble that was recovered by Burfict.