The Buffalo Bills' defense couldn't bail out the offense again this week.
Despite forcing three turnovers, the Bills lost 20-16 to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. Andy Dalton threw for 328 yards and a touchdown to lead the Bengals. Tyrod Taylor had 166 passing yards and a touchdown, but he was sacked six times in the loss.
The Bills fall to 3-2. The Bengals improve to 2-3.
Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 5 report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
Quarterbacks - F
Tyrod Taylor didn't have a good game. It didn't help that his offensive line played like garbage. He had 166 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked six times. He wasn't much of a factor in the run game either. He was held to one carry for 3 yards.
Taylor's biggest problem: His lack of receiving options. The Bills dressed four wide receivers and none of them shined against the Bengals. It didn't help that Charles Clay left with an injury.
Running backs - D-
It's clear that the Bills won't return to their 2016 glory. The league's top rushing attack is a shell of its former self. LeSean McCoy struggled again and finished with 19 carries for 63 yards. His longest run was a 14-yarder. Mike Tolbert had three carries for 16 yards.
The problem stems from the offensive line struggles. McCoy is a great player on his own, but he's not getting the blocking in front of him to get additional space.
Receivers - F
Charles Clay's injury hurt. There's no doubt about it. The Bills have two true weapons for Taylor: Clay and McCoy. With Clay out, it's easier for teams to key on McCoy in the passing game. McCoy caught six passes for only 26 yards.
Brandon Tate caught two passes for 25 yards and had the Bills' lone touchdown. Zay Jones, who was targeted six times, only had one catch for 9 yards. The rookie has been a disappointment in his first five games this season.
Offensive line - F
The Bills' offensive line had a terrible showing against the Carolina Panthers. This game was reminiscent of that performance. The Bills' rushing attack struggled again and Tyrod Taylor didn't get a lot of time to throw the ball. The Bengals deserve credit because their defensive line is one of the best in the NFL. They outplayed the Bills' offensive line Sunday.
Defensive line - B
The Bills' front four had a nice game against the Bengals. Marcell Dareus recorded the team's only sack and the Bills stymied the Bengals' rushing attack. The Bills could've pressured Dalton more. The Bengals quarterback threw for more than 300 yards.
Linebackers - B+
The Bills' linebackers play a key role in limiting the Bengals' rushing attack. As a team, the Bengals had 27 carries for 65 yards. The team's longest run went for 12 yards. The Bills didn't get a lot of tackles for a loss, but they did limit the Bengals to several short gains.
Defensive backs - B
The secondary had a good game. It wasn't great. Tre'Davious White got beat clean on Dalton's 77-yard touchdown pass to Green. He got beat again on another long pass to Green later in the game. Plays like that will happen in the NFL, but you hope to minimize them. Giving up two long gains in one game isn't ideal, especially when they result in touchdowns.
White finished with three passes defensed, which reflects just how much Dalton threw his way. Micah Hyde had an interception. Jordan Poyer had an interception and a fumble recovery.
Kicking and punting - A
Great performances by Steven Hauschka and Colton Schmidt. Hauschka kicked three field goals and converted his lone extra point attempt. He now has 11 field goals through the first five games.
Schmidt was busy. He had seven punts for 315 yards — an average of 45 yards per punt. He had three punts inside the 20, two touchbacks and a long of 51 yards.
Returns and coverage - B
A solid game for both units. Brandon Tate had a 40-yard punt return that was the highlight for the return game. He had one kickoff return for 17 yards against his former team. The Bengals didn't get much out of their return units. Alex Erickson had three kickoff returns for 77 yards and four punt returns for 4 yards.
The Bills had their opportunities to win this one and the coaching staff put them in a position to win. Sean McDermott, the Bills' head coach, has to be pleased that his team is 3-2 heading into the bye. But he may be frustrated that his team missed chances to beat the Bengals, especially after forcing three turnovers. The Bills' red zone offense needs to be better.
OVERALL TEAM PERFORMANCE
The defense's score is higher, but the unit gave up two big passing plays that cost them. You can't make mistakes against a good quarterback like Andy Dalton, especially when he's throwing passes to A.J. Green, one of the NFL's best receivers. The Bills' offense is what brought this overall grade down. Hopefully Rick Dennison can take the extra week and get things figured out for the offense.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: Nick O'Leary. Not a lot of good moments for the offense Sunday. O'Leary was a bright spot. He caught five passes for 54 yards. He became Taylor's favorite target after Clay left the game with a knee injury. If Clay misses a significant amount of time, O'Leary could become a key piece of the offensive puzzle.
DEFENSE: Jordan Poyer. Poyer had three tackles (three solo), an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass defensed. He's been a great addition to the defensive backfield this season. Along with Micah Hyde, they have provided stability in the secondary.
Offensive line. What an abysmal performance, whether it was the mediocre rushing attack or the equally mediocre pass protection. During the bye week, the Bills need to get this figured out. The offensive line has been the biggest liability this season. In games against tough defenses (Carolina and Cincinnati), the line was outplayed.
STAT OF THE GAME
3. The Bills had three takeaways against the Bengals. The defense made plays. The problem was how the offense executed after those takeaways.
STAT OF THE GAME II
6. Tyrod Taylor was sacked six times in the loss to the Bengals. You could critique his performance and question why he didn't get rid of the ball sooner. But it doesn't help that his offensive line has struggled this season. The Bengals' front four is a stellar unit. The Bills' offensive line didn't have a good game against this tough Bengals defense.
The Bills (3-2) are off next week. The team returns to action at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game will be televised on FOX.