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Wayne Post
  • REPORT CARD: Blown punt coverage costs Buffalo Bills again in loss to Bengals

  • Brandon Tate's punt return led to the game-winning field goal.
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  • Quarterbacks: Thad Lewis certainly exceeded expectations for someone coming off the practice squad. In his second NFL start, Lewis completed 19 of 32 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a short score. He completed a pair of gorgeous deep throws too. Lewis did check the ball down a few too many time though and showed poor ball security on the fumble. Grade: B
    Running backs: C.J. Spiller looked like he was far from 100 percent, but still ran well (10 carries, 55 yards). Tashard Choice performed well in limited playing time (four carries, 24 yards), while Fred Jackson picked up a few tough yards (10 carries, 35 yards). A total of 114 rushing yards from the running backs isn't a bad day against the Bengals, who were a top-10 rushing defense going into the contest. Grade: B+
    Wide receivers: The Bills clearly missed Stevie Johnson, as none of Buffalo's wide outs could get open consistently. T.J. Graham caught four passes for 74 yards, including a 47-yard completion to set up the game's first touchdown. Marquise Goodwin caught his first NFL touchdown on a 40-yard reception against DB Terence Newman, and Scott Chandler caught two long passes, including a 25-yard score. Robert Woods and Chris Hogan both struggled. Grade: B-
    Offensive line: The big guys paved the way for 130 rushing yards and 216 passing yards against a tough Cincinnati defense. The Bengals did sack Lewis five times, but at least two of those were due to the quarterback leaving the pocket unnecessarily. Cordy Glenn committed the unit's only penalty (false start). Grade: B
    Defensive line: The line really struggled early, but stepped up its play late in the game. Marcell Dareus recorded one sack and Mario Williams and Kyle Williams split one. Kyle Williams committed a pair of 15-yard penalties. Alan Branch led the unit with six tackles, including one for a loss. Cincinnati rushed for 165 yards and passed for 337. Grade: C+
    Linebackers: The legend of Kiko Alonso continued to grow with 22 total tackles. Nigel Bradham performed surprisingly well in pass coverage against the Bengals' tight ends. The defense was caught out of position on a few screens, swing passes to Giovani Bernard and a reverse. Grade: C+
    Secondary: Stephon Gilmore didn't look healthy enough to shed blocks and be physical with receivers. Da'Norris Searcy led the group with 16 total tackles, three for a loss and a sack, and Jairus Byrd made a quiet return to the lineup. Jim Leonhard picked off one pass, but Andy Dalton still had his best game of 2013 with 337 yards and three touchdowns. Grade: C-
    Special teams: Brian Moorman was outstanding in his return to Buffalo, getting plenty of hang time and dropping two punts inside the 20. Brandon Tate's 28-yard return to set up the game-winning field goal wasn't the punter's fault, as Marcus Easley missed a tackle at the start of the runback. Shawn Powell clearly wasn't the only problem. Dan Carpenter's strong season continued with a 51-yard field goal. Grade: B
    Page 2 of 2 - Coaching: Mike Pettine deserves criticism for how poor the defense looked early on, but he did make good adjustments at halftime to help the Bills get back in the game. Nathaniel Hackett managed to get 24 points out of a practice-squad quarterback playing without his No. 1 receiver. I liked Doug Marrone's decision to go for it on fourth down at the goal line, but three runs up the middle may not have been the best decision on the first three plays. Despite all the inexperience and mistakes, Buffalo took a strong Cincinnati team to overtime. Grade: B
    Follow Dan Goldman on Twitter at MPN_Dan Goldman

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