CINCINNATI (WIVB) — Sunday night’s matchup with the Bengals was a measuring stick game and the Bills came up short; really short.

The offense struggled and the defense failed to make big plays against a Bengals team that’s now won four games in a row. The Bills record falls to 5-4; all four losses have happened away from Highmark Stadium.

Here are my 4 observations from Cincinnati:

  1. The offense put together a very good-looking opening drive. They went up-tempo, drove 85 yards for a touchdown and it looked like the start of a good night, but it fizzled out quickly. They tied the game 7-7 with 6:03 left in the 1st quarter. Their next touchdown came with 3:32 left in the 4th quarter. The only way to beat teams like the Bengals is by scoring, and the offense looked broken once again. Josh Allen finished 26/38, 258 yards, TD, and an interception. He also ran for 44 yards and a score.
  1. The defense needs to make splash plays to beat the top teams and they came up empty against the Bengals. The Bills didn’t force a turnover and only had one sack. After the game, Sean McDermott pointed out the inability to impact the quarterback. The lack of turnovers is becoming a trend. The Bills have forced one turnover in the past four games and their last interception was October 1 against the Dolphins. The Bengals hit the Bills with nine explosive pass plays of 15+ yards. Joe Burrow finished with 348 yards passing and two touchdowns.
  1. Dalton Kincaid is the real deal. For the third straight week, the rookie tight end stepped up and was a reliable target for Josh Allen. He finished with 10 receptions on 11 targets and 81 yards. Kincaid has already developed into the offense’s second best weapon in the passing game. His stats over the last three games show 23 receptions on 26 targets for 221 yards. He did have a costly fumble, but Kincaid is good and only getting better. Kahlil Shakir hauled in all four of his targets for 51 yards and has caught all 14 of his targets in the last three weeks. I would like to see him even more involved going forward. Meanwhile, Gabe Davis was MIA — just two targets and no receptions. The ground game was also non-existent — James Cook with six carries for 20 yards and Latavious Murray with two carries for four yards.
  1. Injuries keep piling up on defense. Terrel Bernard left the game in the 2nd quarter with a concussion and didn’t return. Tyrel Dodson slid over to middle linebacker and rookie Dorian Williams entered the game at outside linebacker. I thought Dodson did a nice job, finishing with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss. Cornerback Christian Benford came down with a hamstring injury late in the week at practice and it ended up knocking him out of the game. Micah Hyde left the game with a stinger in the 2nd half. After the game, Von Miller said it’s the best he’s felt since returning but didn’t record a tackle in the game.

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Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more here.