The Bills lost by a field goal in overtime.
Another close call for the Buffalo Bills, but still just another loss.
Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-24 win over the Bills on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Andy Dalton threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns as the Bengals piled up 483 yards of offense, but blew a 14-point lead with just over 10 minutes left.
Thad Lewis, elevated from the practice squad to make his second NFL start, threw a 40-yard touchdown to rookie Marquise Goodwin with 1:08 left to tie the game. Lewis previously connected with Scott Chandler on a 4th-and-8 for a 22-yard touchdown to cut the Cincinnati lead to 24-17.
"(Lewis) got an opportunity to take us down the field, score some points and send this thing into overtime, and he seized that moment," said Bills running back Fred Jackson. "We just came up short. That's not on him, that's on us as a team. We have to make a few more plays and give us a better chance to win the game."
In overtime, both teams punted on their first possession but a 29-yard return by Brandon Tate gave Cincinnati the ball at the Buffalo 33. Three plays later, Nugent booted the game-winning field goal to send Buffalo to its second consecutive loss.
"It stings that we're so close and we could be on the other end of some of these games," said Bills center Eric Wood. "You wish you could go back and change something, but you can't. All you can do is change it the next time it comes, and hopefully next time we will."
Lewis finished 19 of 32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and also had a four-yard TD run in the first quarter which gave the Bills a brief 7-3 lead.
"It's never good when you don't come out with a W," said Lewis. "That's the reason you play this game, to win."
After the game, Lewis had an X-ray on his foot, but said he expects to be fine. The Bills also played without leading receiver Stevie Johnson, who missed the game with a back injury. However, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jairus Byrd both their season debuts and Goodwin played for the first time since a broken hand suffered in the season opener that required surgery. Gilmore suffered a wrist injury in the preseason and Byrd had been out with plantar fasciitis. Gilmore played the game with a cast on his hand.
"It was very hard, but I mean it is what it is," said Gilmore. "I just wanted to be out there with my team."
A.J. Green caught six passes for 103 yards and his 18-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter gave Cincinnati (4-2) the lead for good.
The Bills responded with a drive in which they converted third-and-1 three straight times before failing on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Dalton then drove the Bengals 98 yards on nine plays, capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Giovani Bernard. Green had a 54-yard reception on a screen to set up the score which gave Cincinnati a 17-7 lead.
"We knew, based on the situation that we were in, we were going to rely on our defense and we didn't answer the call," said Byrd. "No one area was exempt, it was all three phases we have to get better, and it showed at the end."
Marvin Jones had 105 all-purpose yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch following a Lewis fumble to give the Bengals a 24-10 lead early in the third quarter. Bernard finished with 72 yards receiving and 28 yards rushing and BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran 18 times for a season-high 86 yards for the Bengals, who have won four out of five.
"We knew we shouldn't be in overtime," said Bernard. "We just had to stay poised no matter what the situation is and continue to keep girding, and play fast and hard."
Lewis' first pass attempt was a 47-yard throw down the left side to T.J. Graham — the Bills' longest pass play of the season. Three plays later, Lewis dove into the end zone for his first career rushing touchdown.
Graham also had the best day of his NFL career with four catches for 74 yards.
"It's hard to stand up here and try to talk about a positive because at the end of the game you win and that's what you want to do, to be able to win," said Bills head coach Doug Marrone. "We did some things that are encouraging, but at the same time we didn't do enough things to win the game."
Cincinnati had a chance to extend its lead late in the third quarter when Dalton hit Dane Sanzenbacher for 23 yards to convert a fourth-and-15. Nugent followed with a 24-yard field goal, but a holding call negated the score and Nugent missed his next attempt from 34 yards to keep the score 24-10.
Of course, Nugent got his shot at redemption in overtime.
"I kind of felt like it was my responsibility," said Nugent. "I feel like I put us in overtime in a bad way, obviously. You can't miss a kick like that."
C.J. Spiller rushed for 55 yards on 10 carries for Buffalo (2-4), which goes back on the road Sunday at Miami.
Punter Brian Moorman received a warm ovation in his return to Buffalo after being re-signed last week. Moorman, a two-time All-Pro during his 12 years with the Bills, was cut last September but returned when the Bills cut Shawn Powell. Moorman's first punt went 57 yards and rolled out at the 1-yard line to loud cheers and chants of his name.
"It felt good to get back out there, it was like riding a bike," said Moorman. "The timing is there, everything is there."
Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso had 22 tackles and safety Da'Norris Searcy had 16 stops (13 solo).
Notebook: Bills LB Manny Lawson (hamstring) and safety Jonathan Meeks (knee) both left the game in the first half and did not return … The Bills announced the attendance as 67,739 … Bills safety Jim Leonhard set a new career high with his third interception of the season.