Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins gets more attention than Buffalo’s Kyle Williams, but the Bills’ 11-year veteran was the best defensive tackle on the field Sunday.
Williams made the biggest defensive play of the second half in the Bills’ 16-12 victory, and it leads the Ten Plays That Shaped the Game:
1. Drive-stopper. The Bengals were on the verge of taking the lead late in the third quarter. Trailing, 13-12, they faced a second-and-5 situation at the Buffalo 39. One more first down and they’re in field-goal range. But Williams slashed into the backfield to stuff Jeremy Hill for a 5-yard loss. The Bengals had to punt, and the Bills’ lead was safe.
Williams blew inside Bengals left guard Clint Boling, and center Russell Bodine wasn’t quick enough to get to Williams on a reach block.
2. Hip pocket INT. Andy Dalton didn’t see Stephon Gilmore playing textbook coverage against Bradon LaFell on an out route and threw an interception to Gilmore early in the second quarter. Gilmore wasn’t gambling. He attacked the hip of the receiver and turned his head just as LaFell did to make an easy pickoff. Perfect technique. His 49-yard return set up a field goal.
3. Weak-side TD. LeSean McCoy waltzed into the end zone off left tackle from 7 yards for the Bills’ only touchdown. Two keys to the play: Nick O’Leary pulled from left tackle to the middle, opposite the play direction, freezing the Bengals’ linebackers; and Richie Incognito pushed Atkins backward. That allowed McCoy to make an easy cutback to daylight.
4. Tyrod the Good. Tyrod Taylor made a great play from the pocket to start the Bills’ last field-goal drive. He hit Brandon Tate over the middle for a 34-yard catch-and-run. It’s exactly what the Bills want to see from their quarterback: Making plays late in the down from the pocket. The Bills isolated Tate against slower linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a crossing route from the right slot.
5. Tyrod the Bad. The Bills had a chance to put the Bengals away with another score in the fourth quarter. On Buffalo’s second-last drive, Taylor bolted the pocket too soon to try to get a third-and-4 conversion with his legs. Burfict was spying on him and chased him to the sideline for a 3-yard sack. Taylor didn’t have to ditch the scheme so soon.
6. Three-point giveaway. Why is it nice to have receivers with size on the outside? Taylor’s interception at the Cincinnati 1 late in the first half was an example. Taylor was flushed out of the pocket and threw to the goal line just outside the boundary to give receiver Marquise Goodwin a chance to make a play against cornerback Dre Kirkpatick. Maybe Taylor should have thrown it away, but he put the ball in a spot that was very tough to intercept. If the 5-9 Goodwin is able to come back to the ball just a little, the pass is broken up. But Goodwin got boxed out by the 6-2 Kirkpatrick, who made a fine tightrope interception. It cost the Bills three points.
7. Big hurry. Every third-down stop was big in the second half. Williams bull-rushed Boling backward into Dalton’s face to force an incompletion on a third-and-5 from the Cincinnati 14 in the fourth quarter.
8. Coverage doubt. How many times this year has there been a touchdown pass against the Bills and a defensive back turns around and looks at a teammate with incredulousness? It happened again on the Bengals’ second TD. It was a basic goal-line criss-cross, with James Wright cutting inside and Tyler Boyd cutting outside. Safety Corey Graham, in the slot, passed Boyd off to Gilmore but Gilmore was slow to pick up the transfer. Boyd made the easy catch, and Gilmore spun around to look at Graham.
9. Key loss. Maybe this should be the No. 1 play. A.J. Green hurt his hamstring coming out of his break on a simple out route on the third play from scrimmage. It sure made the Bills’ defensive task easier.
10. Unnecessary. Jerry Hughes got miffed at Bengals extra tackle Jake Fisher and lunged at him with his helmet during Cincinnati’s first TD drive. Hughes only made a little contact, but the penalty was justified. Why? The Bills’ have a small margin for error. Little things like this cost games. It was Hughes’ second unnecessary roughness or personal foul penalty this season. He had five last season.