The defense of the Buffalo Bills was the healthiest it had been all season long on Sunday. They went into their game against the Cincinnati Bengals with all of their projected starters save the IR’ed Alex Carrington. The Bills were hoping that the reinforcements would take their defense to the higher level, but as it turns out it had quite the opposite effect.
The Bengals gained 483 yards of total offense. They picked up yards in chunks in the first half. WR Marvin Jones had plays of 35+ yards on each of the Bengals’ first two possessions to set up scores. RB Giovanni Bernard had a 20-yard TD pass on a dump-off that had no business getting into the end zone. In all, six different offensive players for the Bengals had a play that went for 20 yards or more. The Bills couldn’t get out of their own way on defense. Missing tackles and taking bad angles they made things easier for the Bengals in the first half.
Public enemy No. 1 was CB Stephon Gilmore, playing in his first game of the year. Gilmore was wearing a club on his hand that rendered him virtually useless. He could not wrap up anyone to tackle, so the Bengals ran screen and reverse plays designed to go right at Gilmore. His tackle attempts were futile and put pressure on the safeties to make plays down the field with blockers on them. You wonder if there is even any sense to play Gilmore until he can do so without the use on that monstrosity on his arm.
The Bills tightened up in the second half, but by then it was too late. All the Bills could do was rally for a tie and send the game into overtime, losing on a FG after a long punt return. The hope is that this game was an aberration, and once everyone gets settled back into their roles things will stabilize. The second half of the game showed that might be the case, but with the season nearing the midway point and the starting QB out for another few weeks it’s clear that there is not much more time to work out the kinks.