All eyes were on Thad Lewis yesterday as he tried to lead the Buffalo Bills on an improbable comeback win against the Cincinnati Bengals in Buffalo. In only his second career start, Lewis began with a flurry of offense before hitting the proverbial wall mid-game. He and the Bills came punching back late, however, to send the game into overtime.
Unfortunately for Lewis and the Bills, they couldn’t muster any offense in overtime and the Bills gave up the game-winning field goal to the Bengals on their second possession.
It was a good performance for Lewis in relief of starter E.J. Manuel. He went 19-of-32 for 216 yards and two TDs. He didn’t throw an INT, but was sacked five times. While his pocket presence certainly needs some work, he ran the plays that were designed for him to use his legs effectively.
One of the key differences that you can clearly see between him and Manuel is that pocket presence. One thing that Lewis did well was to make sure he didn’t make a bad throw. I can’t recall a ball that was even off the hands of a Bengals defensive back. He did fumble the ball when he was clumsily holding it on a scramble on the first possession of the second half, and that may have been a key play in the game.
Overall, I think OC Nathaniel Hackett opened the playbook up a bit more for Lewis and it showed. The coaching staff probably proceeded carefully with Manuel over the first five weeks after he had his knee scoped in the preseason. They designed runs for Lewis and stretched the field more as well.
We’ll see how much they open it up for Manuel when he comes back from his second knee injury, but I wouldn’t expect them to take the foot of the pedal with Lewis in the coming weeks.
It was an encouraging, yet disappointing first start for Lewis. He now gets to look forward to his third-ever NFL start in his hometown of Miami, FL. We’ll see if he can top his performance and maybe bring home his first ever W as a starter.