CLEVELAND -- The Buffalo Bills had their chances to recover from a bad start against the Cleveland Browns, but kicker Stephen Hauschka missed a 53-yard field goal in the final minute to tie the game. Buffalo lost 19-16, dropping their first game on the road this season.
The Bills (6-3) defense got punched in the mouth again at the start of the game. The run game for the Browns (3-6) combined with some nice plays in the passing game led to an opening-drive score. The Bills took the lead in the second half on a Josh Allen rushing touchdown, but the Browns answered on the next drive
Cleveland won the time of possession battle 31:46-28:14 and ended up converting in the red zone when it mattered the most in the fourth quarter. In the first half, the Browns were stopped on eight straight plays inside the Bills’ 2-yard line on the goal line. That effort by the Bills defense changed the momentum of the game at the time.
Allen threw for a career-high 266 yards and didn’t throw an interception for the fourth straight game. But it wasn’t enough to lead the Bills to a win.
1. Slow start for run defense ... again, but what a second-half turnaround
It wasn’t as bad as the Philadelphia game, but the Buffalo defense was on its heels again as the Browns fed the ball to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the first half. They ran for 110 yards as a team one week after Washington running back Adrian Peterson went over 100 in the first half.
It’s not like it was some sort of surprise. The Bills knew all week they were going to face a heavy dose of running with Hunt back in the mxi after serving his eight-game suspension.
Like they did a week ago, the Buffalo defense got things figured out and put the clamps on Chubb and company in the second half. It was actually pretty dramatic how good the Bills run defense was in the second half. Part of the issue for the Browns was bad coaching by Freddie Kitchens; Chubb had just four carries through most of the second half.
2. Josh Allen’s day a mixed bag
Allen’s completion percentage looked like a flashback to 2018, but he was probably more effective than the box score indicates.
He went over 200 yards passing and made quite a few big throws throughout the game to keep the chains moving. The offense as a whole continues to struggle to execute consistently to sustain drives. Receivers dropped passes, and more untimely penalties continued to push the Bills offense back.
The Bills converted just 4 of 11 third downs through late in the fourth quarter. On the bright side, receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley were involved in the game plan and Allen seemed to be in sync with both playmakers. Brown went went over 50 receiving yards for the ninth straight game, becoming the first player in Bills history to do it. Beasley hauled in four catches for a team-high 74 yards.
Allen’s big mistake came late in the fourth quarter when he fumbled on a quarterback scramble near the goal line. Luckily for the Bills, right guard Jon Feliciano made a magical play to dive on the loose ball to get the ball back for Buffalo. That makes 11 fumbles on the season for Allen.
3. Tremaine Edmunds is a streaky player at 21
Tremaine Edmunds was a huge key for the Bills defense to get things turned around in the second half. He recorded a safety on a blitz early in the third quarter to tie the game at 9-9.
When Edmunds gets lost out on the field it’s apparent, and it’s usually when the Bills struggle the most against the run. Don’t get me wrong, his partner Matt Milano is usually deserving of equal blame and the defensive line breaks down at times, but the middle linebacker has to make plays in the run game.
Edmunds was supercharged in the second half and made a ton of big tackles and plays around the ball. He still managed just three tackles for the game and that was a result of poor tackling in the first half.
4. Devin Singletary usage a mystery
Bills rookie running back Devin Singletary only touched the ball three times in the first half and then had just eight carries for the game. This comes a week after Singletary shined with 20 carries in a Bills win over Washington.
Buffalo’s offense looked like it was starved for some consistent yards throughout the game. Singletary provided that a week ago. It was completely puzzling why Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll didn’t get the ball in Singletary’s hands even more in this one.
5. Robert Foster finally gets some run but not enough
Bills receiver Robert Foster made his first reception of the season and was out there on offense more than any game this season. The catch was for 20 yards on a third down play that set up the Bills’ first touchdown. He didn’t get targeted the rest of the game.
Score: Cleveland 19, Bills 16
Records: Bills 6-3; Cleveland 3-6
Total net yards, Bills: 344
Total net yards, Cleveland: 368
Team rushing, Bills: 84 yards
Team rushing, Cleveland: 147 yards
Team passing, Bills: 260 yards
Team passing, Cleveland: 221 yards
Penalties: Bills 7 for 40 yards | Cleveland 4 for 70 yards
By: Matt Parrino