The offensive coordinators felt good about their 80-hour work week after the first quarter. Their opening scripts worked to perfection.
The Bills marched 75 yards in seven plays to score on the first drive of the game. The Bengals marched 79 yards in five plays to answer on the ensuing drive.
Offense, it appeared, would rule the day, which was no surprise since the Bills entered the game ranked 30th on defense, and the Bengals defense ranked 31st.
The Bills' score was their first touchdown on their opening drive of a game all season. The Bengals' touchdown was the first allowed by the Bills' defense in the first quarter all season. The Bills had allowed only three first-quarter field goals the first seven games.
Key plays: The longest gainer was a 43-yard screen pass to Kenny Watson that went to the Bills' 16.
Second guess: The Bills had it in Bengals territory on their third drive at the 41. But Losman underthrew a pass deep down the left sideline for Evans, and Leon Hall made an easy pickoff at the 5.
"The ball slipped out a little bit, and regardless I probably should have checked it down," Losman said.
Taking it to our house
The special teams matchup looked like a mismatch in favor of the Bills entering the game. Surprise!
The Bengals got a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to take a 14-10 lead. Glenn Holt took advantage of great blocking and raced through a gaping hole up the left side of the field to score the first kickoff return on a Bills team since the last game of the 2005 season.
The Bills entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in average drive start by opponents after kickoffs.
"I wanted to make sure he didn't cut to the outside, so maybe I played it too far over there," Rian Lindell said of his kickoff.
Key plays: The Bengals' Bryan Robinson shot through the line to stuff Marshawn Lynch for a 4-yard loss on a first-and-goal play from the 1. The Bills had to settle for a field goal.
Second guess: On third-and-goal from the 3 the Bills powered up with a jumbo formation, using three Tight ends. They ran Lynch up the middle, and the Bengals stopped him for a 2-yard loss. The Bengals were looking run all the way. A spread formation might have been better.
Showing their stuff
Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson showed in the third quarter what all the hype is about in Cincinnati.
Palmer marched the Bengals 70 yards in 10 plays in the middle of the third quarter to give Cincinnati a 21-16 lead. The key play on the march was a 23-yard pass from Palmer to Johnson on a third-and-7 play from the Bengals' 45. The Bills were in a zone defense, and Johnson ran an intermediate out route between cornerback Jabari Greer and free safety George Wilson. Palmer put the ball on a dime along the sideline, and Johnson dragged both feet in bounds just before getting pummeled by Wilson.
Five plays later the Bengals were in the end zone and had the lead -- even though the Bills held an advantage in yards, 319 to 208, at that point.
Unsung play: Cornerback Terrence McGee forced a Bengals punt with an excellent breakup of a pass for Johnson on a hitch route early in the quarter.
Second guess: The Bills were forced to settle for another field goal in the red zone. The key stop for the Bengals was on second-and-9 from the 19. The Bills tried an end around for Josh Reed out of the shotgun formation, but the Bengals were crowding the line and stuffed it for no gain.
Lynch by a KO
Yes, the Bills have a knockout punch!
Fans lost a lot of fingernails and sweat at the end of the last four home games, but they were able to celebrate the final two minutes of this one.
Marshawn Lynch's touchdown pass to Robert Royal and Lynch's 56-yard touchdown run sealed the Bills' third straight victory.
Foul play: The Bills got great field position for their go-ahead touchdown after a Bengals punt. The Bengals committed three penalties. Fouls for going out of bounds on coverage and having an ineligible man downfield were declined. A defensive holding call on Blue Adams was accepted, and the Bills got the ball on the Bengals' 32.
Key play: Lynch's TD pass was the first by a Bills halfback in 26 years.
Key play II: The Bills kept mixing up their pass rushes to keep Carson Palmer off balance. On third-and-5 from their own 13, the Bills brought seven men to the line but two backed off at the snap. Angelo Crowell got pressure on Palmer, and the quarterback was forced into a hurried lob throw to the sideline, which was easily broken up.
Second guess: The Bengals' personnel department must be questioned for putting together a poor defense.