It was all there for the taking – for the Buffalo Bills as a team, and Tyrod Taylor more specifically.
This was another moment to prove the naysayers wrong, another chance to show that the underdogs deserved to be kings of the yard. And for most of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, the Bills appeared close to closing out an upset over the struggling Bengals.
But bad habits and bad quarterback play helped to unravel an impressive team effort and overshadow standout performances by safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.
The final score – 20-16 Bengals – wasn’t at all the outcome Sean McDermott and his players expected. And truth be told, it shouldn't have come down to that given how well the Bills defense had played throughout.
But too many times, Taylor took the sack. Too many times, he didn’t feel the pressure behind him. Too many times, he made the wrong call in the pocket.
The loss shouldn’t rest solely on Taylor’s shoulders. But much of the blame falls at his feet.
The Bills entered the game with a plus-6 turnover margin in the first four weeks of the season and on Sunday, they were even more impressive. Particularly the secondary.
Hyde made a diving interception on a tipped Andy Dalton pass, Poyer added another pick and also recovered a Cincy fumble caused by teammate Lorenzo Alexander. But with a potential win hanging in the balance, Taylor’s decision-making proved costly.
His ill-advised pass downfield to Zay Jones was picked off by George Iloka with about a little more than two minutes left, essentially crushing the Bills’ hopes of a comeback.
This loss will sting. And it should.
This week’s bye will present plenty of opportunities for the Bills to second-guess themselves and to rue their many missed opportunities.
Questions about their shaky offense will linger too. Criticisms of Taylor’s talent will only intensify. And talk of the Bills being “for real” will quiet down. And rightfully so.