After an impressive and shocking 3-1 start to the season, the Buffalo Bills took a step back, went forward, and took another step back. Through this stretch, history has showed that this is the time the Bills start to fall apart and crumble. They don’t necessarily fall apart, but they are faced with reality.
Through this four-game stretch, the Bills went up against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, and New York Jets for a second time. This time was the start of the pressure for the Bills to push for a playoff spot.
Week 5: @ Cincinnati Bengals
Coming off a great win against Atlanta, the Bills traveled to Ohio to take on the Bengals, who started off slow at 1-3 with their only win so far against the Cleveland Browns. This could have been considered a trap game for the Bills. Winning the past two weeks against dominating teams and now they have to play a Bengals team that has nowhere to go but up.
After a great start to his rookie season, Tre’Davious White met his first real competition in A.J. Green. The downfall started on a 77 yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Green early in the game. Joe Mixon also saw the end zone with a rushing touchdown. From there on, Tyrod Taylor could not get the offense going in this game. The only good play from the Bills came from former Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate who caught the team’s only touchdown pass in the game.
The run game was shut down so it was up to Taylor to keep the game going, but missed on many opportunities to set the Bills up in scoring position.
Other than the two scoring drives against them, the Bills defense played somewhat well. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde came up each with an interception.
A great defensive battle favored the Bengals as they beat the Bills 20-16, sending the Bills to 3-2 on the season and into their bye week.
Week 6: Bye Week
Week 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bills managed to bounce back from their heartbreaking loss two weeks prior against the Bengals. The Buccaneers came into Buffalo looking to add onto the Bills losing streak. With the Bucs having an offense that could easily put up 25-plus points with their offense, the Bills needed to play offensive minded football and they did just that.
Taylor was able to get the passing game going as he threw for 268 yards with a score. He also rushed for 53 yards in the run game. The unsung hero that was just signed by the Bills days before this game, Deonte Thompson, led the Bills in receiving 107 yards off of four catches. Tight end Logan Thomas was the only receiver to catch a touchdown pass on the day.
What else contributed to a Bills victory? The running game finally showed signs of life, led my LeSean McCoy. Running for 91 yards and two touchdowns helped the Bills in this game. McCoy also added on 31 receiving yards.
Stephen Hauschka made three out of four field goals, including the game-winning field goal with 14 seconds left in the game.
The Bills defense faced difficult situations and did not play their at best in this game. They were able to come up with big plays, but the game was too close for what prior weeks have showed what the Bills defense can do. The Bucs running game went nowhere, but it allowed Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to throw for 384 yards, three scores and one interception. That one interception came from Bills rookie linebacker Matt Milano.
After the Bills took the lead very late in the fourth, the Bucs offense had one more chance to pull of a miracle. Players kept lateraling it back on the final play, to where almost every Bucs player touched the ball. Luckily the Bills did not fall for any tricks and made the stop to seal the game. The Bills went on to win 30-27 in a bounce back game.
Week 8: Oakland Raiders
Facing a Raiders team that showed promise in the beginning of the season was actually a good test for the Bills, seeing as the Raiders started to slowly fall apart. Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch did get the opportunity to face his former team as he was serving a one game suspension.
The Bills could not afford to lose to a team like the Raiders that were fighting for a playoff spot much like the Bills.
After the Raiders got onto the board first, that would be the only time they would see the end zone until the fourth quarter. The game quickly went into the Bills controlling the Raiders for three straight quarters.
Former Raider, Andre Holmes caught the Bills first touchdown pass in the second quarter. With the first half winding down, the Raiders had the ball with less than a minute left. Derek Carr to his receiver, only to get hit and fumble it and allowing Matt Milano recover the football and return it 40 yards to the house to give the Bills a 14-7 lead heading into the second half.
Hauschka added on two field goals in the third quarter to make it a 20-7 Bills lead.
The first play of the fourth quarter, Taylor scored from one yard out to give the Bills a commanding lead. DeAndre Washington got into the end zone to get the Raiders back in the game, but it did not matter once LeSean McCoy put the final touchdown on the board off a 48 yard touchdown run.
This is the Bills offense that needed to show up in prior weeks as well as the defense. The Bills defense stopped a dangerous Raiders offense and came away with big plays to help secure a win, beating the Raiders 34-14 and pushing the Bills to 5-2 on the season and 4-0 at home.
Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the Buffalo Bills. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_ray79 and @FPC_Bills for Buffalo Bills Coverage.