CINCINNATI (AP) — A.J. Green had a hand in three turnovers that kept it close, but the receiver also pulled off a 77-yard touchdown and another long catch that set up a score Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Bengals to a 20-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a steady rain.
After losing their first three games, the Bengals (2-3) have salvaged their season by getting the ball to their playmakers at decisive moments. Green’s 47-yard catch set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Joe Mixon that put Cincinnati ahead to stay in the fourth quarter.
The Bills (3-2) got off to an encouraging start by relying heavily on kicker Stephen Hauschka and a defense that led the league, allowing only 13.5 points per game in the first four. The combination wasn’t enough this time. Buffalo’s depleted offense couldn’t take advantage of Cincinnati’s three turnovers.
Tyrod Taylor’s off-target pass was picked off near midfield with 2:14 left, clinching it for Cincinnati. Taylor finished 20 of 37 for 166 yards and was sacked six times.
The Bengals changed offensive coordinators after failing to get a touchdown in their first two games. Green complained that they weren’t getting the ball to their difference makers. He made the difference Sunday, catching seven passes for 189 yards.
He ran past rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White and caught Andy Dalton’s pass in stride for a 77-yard score on the Bengals’ second possession. Green also had a hand in the Bengals’ three turnovers that kept the Bills in it. Green had passes go off his hands and his chest for a pair of interceptions. He also fumbled after a catch.
Dalton twisted his left ankle in the first half and finished the game with a limp, getting it heavily taped at halftime. He was 22 of 36 for a season-high 328 yards.
The Bills got little out of an offense down to four healthy receivers because of injuries, managing only 221 yards. They’ve been held under 300 yards in each of their last four games.
A fan banner in the upper deck said: “Just Play Football.” A pro-Trump banner was displayed briefly criticizing players and owners, signed with #MakeAmericaGreatAgain. During the anthem, a fan held a cardboard sign that said “Cincy Stands For The Anthem.” It was the first game at Paul Brown Stadium since President Donald Trump tweeted that players should be fired if they protest during the anthem, prompting a pushback from players and some team owners. Bills and Bengals players all stood.
Bills: WR Jordan Matthews was sidelined by a broken thumb. TE Charles Clay hurt his left knee when he was tackled in the first half and didn’t put weight on it as he was helped to the bench. He didn’t return.
Bengals: The Bengals lost starting cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (right shoulder) and Adam “Pacman” Jones (lower back) to injuries in the first half. WR Tyler Boyd hurt his right knee in the first quarter and didn’t return.
Bills: Following their bye, the Bills host Tampa Bay and Oakland in the next two weeks.
Bengals: Following their bye, they play at Pittsburgh. The Bengals have lost four straight and seven of eight against the Steelers, including a first-round playoff game in the 2015 season.