The Bills had three fourth-quarter drives Sunday on which they could've taken the lead.
The results were not inspiring. The Bills punted before reaching midfield on their first possession. The offense was gifted a drive start on the Bengals' 12-yard on the second possession but only gained 2 yards and had to settle for a short field goal. Tyrod Taylor airmailed Zay Jones and the final drive and was intercepted.
Taylor's performance in the clutch was disappointing after a recent string of strong play in these situations, although he was without top wide out Jordan Matthews (thumb) and leading receiver Charles Clay (knee).
The News has tracked Taylor's stats when the Bills are down one possession or tied in the fourth quarter or overtime over the last three seasons. Here's how they look after Sunday's game:
Taylor completed 4 of 7 passes in the fourth quarter Sunday as the Bills offense netted only 2 yards. Taylor gained 18 through the air, lost 15 on sacks, and LeSean McCoy ran twice for -1 yard.
The Bills' second drive of the fourth quarter was the killer. Brandon Tate's 40-yard punt return and an obscure unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a ref running into a player on the Bengals' sideline set the Bills up just 12 yards from the end zone while trailing 17-13. Taylor threw incomplete for Jones in the end zone, linebacker Vontaze Burfict blew up a run play for a 4-yard loss, and then Taylor checked down to McCoy for 6 yards on third and 14. A field goal seemed like the right call with 9:03 to play, but the Bills really needed the offense to capitalize on that drive.
It's worth noting that Taylor's only potential passing targets after halftime were Jones, Tate, Andre Holmes, Kaelin Clay, Nick O'Leary, Logan Thomas and the backs. That's a pitiful NFL receiving cast, but the Bengals were also without both of their starting cornerbacks due to injury.
Taylor's stats Sunday didn't affect his overall situational completion percentage or yards per attempt much, but the interception did provide a significant ding to his passer rating. Taylor now has more interceptions than touchdowns in these situations in his Bills career. For a Bills-friendly comparison, Taylor's stats in these situations are close to the career numbers of Alex Van Pelt, who had a 64.1 passer rating, a 54.9 completion percentage and 6.26 yards per attempt.
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