Bengals vs. Bills: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Buffalo
Fans looking for positives from this game will point to the fact that the offense put up 24 points, 14 of which came in the fourth to force overtime. However, this is a fanbase that hasn't seen a playoff game in over a decade, and moral victories will only go so far.
These are the grades for the Bills' players in the game against Cincinnati.
Thad Lewis: B+
Entering this game it was not looking good for whoever was going to start for Buffalo at quarterback. The Bengals defense was coming off a game where they kept Tom Brady out of the end zone, ending a 52-game streak.
This didn't seem to bother Thad Lewis, who went out and threw two touchdowns and rushed for a third with only one turnover. Lewis did a great job managing the game and even connected on two deep passes, something that EJ Manuel has struggled with.
Lewis showed he is more than capable to run this offense, and the team has found a suitable backup once Manuel returns.
C.J. Spiller: B
C.J. Spiller deserves credit for the toughness he has shown the past few weeks by playing clearly at less than 100 percent. He has not been the same running back this season that he was last year but still has been effective. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry against the Bengals and finally got involved a little bit in the passing game with two receptions.
Fred Jackson: C
The veteran running back struggled finding running lanes to get through but was a good complementary back against the Bengals. He finished the game averaging 3.5 yards per carry and contributed in the passing game with four receptions.
Tashard Choice: B+
In my opinion, Tashard Choice was the best running back on the field for the Bills against the Bengals. He looked to do the best job of finding running lanes and picking up chunks of yards whenever he got the chance to run the ball. It would have been nice to see him get more than four carries considering he finished with a six-yard-per-carry average.
T.J. Graham: B
With Stevie Johnson inactive due to a back injury, T.J. Graham finally got involved in the team's offense with season-high totals in receptions, yards and targets. He finished the game with four receptions for 74 yards, averaging 18.5 yards per reception.
Marquise Goodwin: B+
The rookie wide receiver has missed the majority of the season and didn't waste any time making an impact. He was on the receiving end of Lewis' touchdown pass that forced overtime at the end of the fourth quarter. He showed his elite speed and could be a great weapon for this offense.
Robert Woods: C
Robert Woods had a very quiet game and was neutralized for the most part by the Bengals. He was targeted six times by Lewis but finished the game with two receptions for only nine yards.
Chris Hogan: D
With the injury to Johnson, Chris Hogan was bumped up the depth chart and finished the game with only one reception for two yards.
Scott Chandler: B+
Scott Chandler is looking healthier each passing week as he comes back from having ACL surgery last December. Chandler only had two receptions, but one was a key play in the fourth quarter. His touchdown reception came on fourth down and pulled the Bills within one score.
Pass Protection: C-
The results from this game did not change for this group even with Doug Legursky starting at left guard. Lewis was sacked five times and hit 11 times. When Lewis had time, though, he was able to make plays, connecting on two passes of 40 yards or more.
Run Protection: C
The run game has been this offense’s bread and butter but could not get it going against a tough Bengals front seven. The team did average four yards a carry, but it was not easy for the Bills' running backs who had to earn every yard they got.
Alan Branch: B+
Alan Branch had a solid game and was a disruptive force against the Bengals' running game. He finished the game with six solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.
Marcell Dareus: B
Marcell Dareus has continued his streak of strong performances with a four-tackle, one-sack game against the Bengals. He did a good job of taking on blockers and pushing them back to disrupt Andy Dalton's pocket.
Kyle Williams: B
Like Dareus, Kyle Williams did a good job of disrupting Dalton in the pocket and finished the game with half a sack and two quarterback hits.
Mario Williams: B-
The Bengals made a conscious effort to try to neutralize Mario Williams and for the most part was successful. He did get to Dalton, though, a couple of times and finished with half a sack and one quarterback hit.
Kiko Alonso: A+
Kiko Alonso played nearly flawless and seemed to be involved in nearly every tackle. He finished the game with 22 tackles, which accounted for nearly 20 percent of the tackles. It is easy to forget that Alonso is still a rookie and only five games into his professional career.
Jerry Hughes: B+
Manny Lawson's injury provided Jerry Hughes the opportunity to see extended playing time, and he had arguably his best game as a Buffalo Bill. He finished the game with 11 tackles and one pass defended. If Lawson is out for an extended period of time, Hughes wouldn't be a bad replacement.
Nigel Bradham: B-
There were high expectations for Nigel Bradham entering the season, but he has seen limited playing time to this point. Against the Bengals, he had a productive day with seven tackles, which is a season high.
Arthur Moats: B-
Arthur Moats has continued to develop into a solid backup and adds to linebacker depth that has been lacking. He finished the game with three solo tackles and seven total.
Manny Lawson: Incomplete
Lawson left the game early in the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return. He finished the game with three tackles.
Da'Norris Searcy: A-
Da'Norris Searcy was all over the field against the Bengals, finishing with 16 tackles, three for a loss and one sack. Searcy did a great job playing near the line of scrimmage and limiting the passing game. With the return of Jairus Byrd, Mike Pettine now has four options at the two safety positions to match up best with opposing offenses.
Jim Leonhard: A-
Jim Leonhard was able to force the only turnover on the Bengals with an interception of Dalton in the second quarter. He has filled in nicely for Byrd the first part of the year and should continue to see playing time even with Byrd returning.
Jairus Byrd: C
Byrd showed some rust and at times looked hesitant playing in this new defensive system. Both these issues will work themselves out as Byrd gets back into game shape. He finished his first game back with four tackles and one pass defended.
Aaron Williams: F
Aaron Williams struggled at times against Dalton, and the Bills offense was cut up for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Now that the secondary is getting healthier, it would not surprise me to see Williams moved between safety and cornerback depending on the situation.
Leodis McKelvin: F
Leodis McKelvin struggled against the Bengals wide receivers and had one of his worst games this season. McKelvin gave up two of Dalton's three touchdowns to receivers he was covering.
Stephon Gilmore: Incomplete
I am not going to give Stephon Gilmore a grade because he was at a huge disadvantage with one hand wrapped in a cast. He showed some rust but did have some good plays and finished with three tackles.
Brian Moorman: A-
Fan favorite Brian Moorman returned this week and replaced Shaun Powell as the team's punter. He had a good first game back with two of his five punts being downed inside the 20. He finished the game with a punt average of 48.8 yards per attempt.
Dan Carpenter: A+
Dan Carpenter was perfect on the day with a 51-yard field goal and three extra points. He has now hit 12 of 13 field-goal attempts this year and a perfect 12-of-12 on extra points.