When the Buffalo Bills started the season 3-1 and an undefeated record in the AFC, many fans wondered, "So what's the catch?"
On Sunday, they were asking, "Where are the catches?"
The Cincinnati Bengals handled the Bills' threadbare offense and won, 20-16, in Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bills' defense was dynamite with three takeaways, but Tyrod Taylor didn't have enough effective targets at which to throw. Already missing Jordan Matthews and with rookie Zay Jones struggling, the Bills lost tight end Charles Clay to a knee injury in the first quarter.
Taylor threw to Buffalo's wideouts only 12 times. They combined for three receptions and 34 yards.
Brandon Tate led them all with two grabs and 25 yards, with a stellar touchdown catch on Taylor's gorgeous 12-yard bullet 3:10 before halftime.
Tate, in his ninth NFL season, has a single 100-yard receiving game and entered Sunday with six receiving TDs. But he apparently was Taylor's best wideout option Sunday.
Jones caught one of his nine targets.
Buffalo's tight ends totaled 88 yards. Nick O'Leary made five receptions for a team-high 54 yards. Clay had two catches for 31 yards before a cart drove him to the locker room. Converted quarterback Logan Thomas caught his first NFL pass, a 3-yard gain.
Running back LeSean McCoy caught six passes, but for only 26 yards.
After safety Jordan Poyer snatched an interception of an A.J. Green drop early in the third quarter, the Bills lost 10 yards on their next three plays and punted.
With 10:37 to play and trailing, 17-13, Tate returned a punt 40 yards, and Cincinnati's bench was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, having interfered with an official tracking the play.
That put Buffalo on Cincy's 12-yard line, but the offense gained only 2 yards and once again had to send out Stephen Hauschka for a field goal.
Hauschka made all three of his attempts, by the way. This week, an opportunistic defense -- safeties Micah Hyde and Poyer were dynamite again -- and an automatic kicker weren't enough.
Buffalo needed offense, more specifically better receivers.