Depleted Bills offense outclassed in loss to A.J. Green, Bengals

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- There was not much difference between the quarterbacks, Tyrod Taylor and Andy Dalton, for most of Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

But between the teams' pass-catchers? That was a different story. The Bengals escaped a rainy afternoon with a 20-16 win because of their big-play ability on offense, specifically from A.J. Green. In contrast, the Bills entered Sunday with perhaps the NFL's worst depth chart at wide receiver and lost their top tight end, Charles Clay, to a knee injury in the first quarter.

Green finished with seven receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown, taking the top off the Bills' defense with a 77-yard score in the first quarter and setting up the Bengals' go-ahead score with a 47-yard grab to end the third.

It was the most receiving yards by a player against Buffalo since the New England Patriots' Wes Welker gained 217 yards on 16 catches in 2011. Green's average of 27 yards per catch was the second-most against Buffalo for a player with at least seven catches. Miami's Mark Duper averaged 28.9 yards per catch (seven receptions for 202 yards) in a Bills loss in Oct. 1983.

The Bills had no such answers offensively Sunday, and that buried them even when Green's miscues gave them chances.

Green had a well-thrown Dalton pass bounce off him in the third quarter, landing in the hands of Bills safety Jordan Poyer. Buffalo's offense then lost 10 yards on its ensuing drive and punted.

On the Bengals' next possession, Green caught a 20-yard pass before he took a jarring hit from Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. The ball came loose and was recovered by Poyer. The Bills only came away with a field goal.

"We didn't make enough plays on offense, and I take full responsibility for that one," Taylor said after the game. "We had a bunch of opportunities. Left some plays out there on the field. Just didn't convert on a couple of turnovers that the defense had done a good job of getting the ball back. Just a sour taste after this."

With running back LeSean McCoy generally bottled up for a fourth consecutive game -- he finished with 63 yards on 19 carries and has not reached 100 rushing yards since Week 1 -- it was up to Taylor to move the Bills' offense. That proved an almost impossible task given Buffalo's depleted personnel at wide receiver and tight end.

"I think it's true of any offense -- if you become one dimensional, that's not good," coach Sean McDermott. "We've got to make sure we can run the football, and run our style of offense. There have been times that we've done it, and there have bee times we haven't. We've got to continue to grow and get better there."

After August's trade of Sammy Watkins and the surprise retirement of Anquan Boldin, the Bills had gotten by so far this season with Jordan Matthews and rookie Zay Jones at receiver. But Matthews injured his thumb in last week's win over the Atlanta Falcons and was ruled out in Cincinnati, leaving Jones as the top wideout opposite a mix of Andre Holmes, Kaelin Clay and Brandon Tate. At tight end, Buffalo was down to Nick O'Leary and Logan Thomas after Clay's injury.

The Bills gained only 36 net yards in the second half, which is tied for their lowest second-half output in any game since 2001. They also gained 36 yards in a 2009 loss to the Jets.

Taylor entered Sunday with a 1-10 record when throwing 30 or more times. He attempted 37 passes Sunday, completing 20 for 166 yards. His final attempt of the game was his worst: a badly overthrown pass to Jones that was intercepted by Cincinnati to seal the win. Taylor's 63.6 passer rating was the third-worst of his Bills career.