By Chuck Pollock, Sun Senior Sports Columnist
Well, it’s official, if the season ended today the Buffalo Bills would miss the playoffs for only the second time in seven seasons.
That was assured last night at Cincinnati’s Paycor Stadium when the Bengals, 4-4, hung a 24-18 defeat on coach Sean McDermott’s team.
In dropping to 5-4, Buffalo now ranks ninth in the AFC, two spots out of a playoff berth and its hopes of getting 10 wins are bleak.
Coming up are games against both of last year’s Super Bowl teams — Kansas City and Philadelphia — both on the road, as well as the Chargers and Dolphins. Visiting Highmark Stadium will be Dallas, New England, which beat the Bills in Foxboro, the resurgent Broncos, which dominated the Chiefs, who have the conference’s best record, by two touchdowns in Denver, and the Jets who toppred Buffalo in the season opener at the Meadowlands.
And all we’ve heard persistently during the last five-game malaise is “we have to play complementary football” and “we have to get in rhythm on offense.”
The season is nine games old … only eight remain.
What’s certain is this, Buffalo is in third place in the division, and has a 1-2 record in the AFC East and 2-4 in the conference. Those last two numbers are concerning if playoff berths come down to tiebreakers.
In fairness, Sunday night’s game was not one the Bills were expected to win but the same could be said of the Chiefs, Eagles, Dolphins, Chargers and Cowboys.
And the reality is, the Bills will have to beat at least three of them to make the postseason.
SOME OTHER notes from the Bills loss at Cincinnati:
— Cincinnati’s first takeaway came when a Josh Allen pass intended for wideout Gabe Davis was picked off by cornerback Cam Taylot-Britt, his third of the year, tying him for the team lead. It was Allen’s ninth interception of the season.
For the record, Davis, ostensibly the No. Two receiver had no catches on Sunday night.
The second came when Dalton Kincaid, the rookie tight end taken in the first round of 2023 draft, fumbled when he was upended and had the ball knocked out by linebacker Germaime Pratt.
— The Bills lone sack of Bengals QB Joe Burrow was shared by end Leonard Floyd and tackle Jordan Phillips. Floyd has a team-leading seven sacks while Phillips has two.
–Cincinnati’s only sack of Allen was logged by defensive tackle BJ Hill, his fourth of the season.
The Bills ran only 16 times for 68 yards but Allen accounted for eight carries for 44 of them.
— Kincaid was targeted eleven times and caught ten balls
— Inactive for the Bills was safety Damar Hamlin, who almost died of a cardiac event last January at Cincinnati. Hamlin is fully recovered and made Buffalo’s 53-man roster this summer but has been active in only one of nine games, playing on special teams.
Also inactive were linebackers A.J. Klein (back) and Baylon Spector (hamstring), leaving Buffalo with four linebackers against the Bengals: Terrel Bernard, Tyrel Dodson, Dorian Williams and special teamer Tyler Matakevich. Bernard left the game with an injury and Dodson took over at middle linebacker.
The other inactives were offensive tackles Germain Ifedi and Alec Anderson and defensive tackle Poona Ford.
However three recent acquisitions were active: cornerbacks Rasul Douglas (trade) and Josh Norman (free agent) and free agent defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Norman and Joseph had been on the practice squad.
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.)
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