Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow gives a game ball to a fan after the Bengals beat the Bills. “I don’t need any more of those balls, so I thought I’d make somebody’s day.”

Ryan Meyer/

By Dr. John Huang

(CINCINNATI, Oh.) – You knew this one would be close. Whenever two of the top teams in the NFL meet in a gargantuan clash on Sunday Night Football, the game’s most likely going down to the wire.

Buffalo versus Cincinnati did not disappoint the 66,965 “striped-out” patrons ringing the stands of Paycor Stadium. The Bengals (5 – 3) held on to defeat the Bills (5 – 4) 24 – 18 in a marquee heavyweight showdown between two stud quarterbacks.

In one corner stood the Bills’ Josh Allen. The sixth-year pro out of Wyoming is a freakish dual-threat signal caller with a rifle arm, powerful legs, and a physique built to kick sand in your face at the beach.

In the opposite corner stood the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, a bit more physically diminutive by comparison. Four years removed from his Heisman Trophy days at LSU, Cincinnati fans now refer to Burrow as a resilient “Joe Cool.” He’s a medical Superman of sorts—having already recovered from a blown-out knee (2020), a bout of appendicitis (2022), and a ripped calf muscle (2023) while leading the Cincinnati franchise into the rarified air of Super Bowl contention.

Two possessions into this one, we thought we were headed for that proverbial shootout. Both quarterbacks spearheaded impressive marches down the field for opening-drive touchdowns. When Burrow did it again on his second straight possession to give the Bengals a 14 – 7 lead, fans wisely buckled up.

It was then that Allen blinked. Or was it the Cincinnati defense that threw the uppercut? The Bills had to punt. Then Cam Taylor-Britt intercepted an errant Allen throw, and Lou Anarumo’s unit held the NFL’s fourth-highest scoring offense to just seven points, 122 yards, and a massive 21:09 to 8:54 edge in time of possession for the rest of the half.

Burrow, meanwhile, continued to jab. With the Bills’ defense predictably keying in on Cincinnati’s wideouts, Joey Franchise started throwing to his backs and tight ends. A 22-yard touchdown to Drew Sample suddenly staked the home team to a 21 – 7 halftime lead. The second largest crowd in Paycor history was ready to party.

Not so fast, my friend.

The Bengals’ offense stalled a bit in the third quarter, and the Bills battled back. Tyler Bass added a field goal cutting the deficit to 21 – 10. Then early in the fourth quarter, the Bills were driving again when Allen hit his rookie tight end, Dalton Kincaid, at the Cincinnati 13-yard line. Cincinnati safety Nick Scott flipped Kincaid while tackling him mid-air while linebacker Germaine Pratt punched the ball loose and Scott recovered.

It was a momentum-changer for sure as an Evan McPherson field goal that followed would extend the Bengals’ lead to 24 – 10 with just 8:08 to play.

Right on cue, however, the Bills came roaring back. At the 3:32 mark, Allen hit Stefon Diggs for a 17-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion—also to Diggs—made it 24 – 18 as everyone held their collective breaths.

Fortunately for Bengals fans, this was no horror movie. On the first play after the two-minute warning—on third-and-three—running back Joe Mixon hit the edge for five yards, and the Bengals subsequently ran out the clock.

“I was happy our offense was able to go and finish it out,” Coach Zac Taylor said immediately afterwards in his postgame presser. “That was a big run by Joe Mixon in the last play of the game. We have to pride ourselves in finishing with the ball, and we did that today.”

What should be even more prideful was the way the team started. The Bengals are 21 -2 since 2021 when scoring first. They’ve found the endzone on their opening possession in each of the past four games. Cincinnati simply doesn’t lose when leading at halftime.

“It’s proven if we can start fast and get a lead, our defense pins their ears back and gets after the quarterback and creates turnovers,” Taylor explained. “It’s easier to call the game with a lead as well. Our guys responded the right way to that.”

For the night, Allen completed 26-of-38 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown. Burrow was 31-of-44 for a season-high 348 yards and two scores.

As expected, Joe Cool responded to the team’s fourth straight win in his usual matter-of-fact manner.

“This was only Game 8. We still have nine games left. We’re 5 – 3 right now. We’re in a great spot. We just have to continue to get better.”

Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist, military veteran, and award-winning author. He currently covers the Bengals’ beat for Sports View America. He is the author/coauthor of five books—Cut To The Chase, Kentucky Passion, From The Rafters Of Rupp, and Serving Up Winners. Check out his just-released new book, They Call Me Mr. Secretary, here  





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