In their 49-31 victory over the Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bills became the first team in NFL history to win by 18 points after trailing by at least 17 points at halftime. Down 31-14 at the half, former Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick engineered the biggest Bills road comeback since 1987 in the Bengals' worst half ever. Never before Sunday had they been outscored 35-0 in a half.
SECONDARY DECIMATED: As the Bengals try to regroup from one of their worst folds in history, it is believed they won't have safety Chris Crocker (knee) for the rest of the season and may not have cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle) for Thursday's night's game against the Jets.
But word is that safety Roy Williams (concussion) might be able to play Thanksgiving in New Jersey (8:20 p.m., Cincinnati's Channel 12).
Joseph said he reaggravated his high ankle sprain while returning his 21-yard interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter. As he met the media, he held his MRI in his hands and gave it to trainers to have it examined.
After rookie cornerback Brandon Ghee reaggravated his groin problem early in the second half, the Bengals were down to five defensive backs. Quarterback Michael Johnson said there was talk on the sidelines that wide receivers Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby could have been tapped for duty.
The key loss was Crocker because he also plays slot corner. The Bengals were left with starting cornerback Leon Hall and backup safeties Chinedum Ndukwe and George Iloka. Rico Murray, a transplanted safety playing in his eighth NFL game and third this season, became the other corner. Safety Tom Nelson played the slot corner for the first time since the 2009 preseason.
T.O UNPLUGGED: Terrell Owens said he wasn't going to give the media any sound bites in his postgame news conference in the rubble of Sunday's 49-31 loss to the Bills at Paul Brown Stadium.
It was the only time he kept it close to the vest and delivered the epitaph of a seven-game losing streak topped off by one of the biggest collapses in club history.
Owens took off his glasses, put them down beside the microphone, and said, "Let me look you in the eyes. We're just terrible. That's just plain and simple. When I say we, that's me included. We find ways to lose the game. You would think that, having a lead going into halftime, we could capitalize and build off of that. We may go 2-14 at the rate we're playing.
"I don't blame the fans for booing us. I don't blame people for not wanting to come and see the performance we've put up the last six ballgames. I don't blame them."
RED ZONE PICK: It was a heck of a time for Palmer's first red-zone interception this season and the first pick by a Bills defensive back this season. It came with 3:11 left in the third quarter and the Bengals leading, 31-28.
It was the 13th play of the drive and Palmer said the Bengals had the look they wanted - a zone - up until about the middle of the play. Then safety George Wilson suddenly shot under Owens in the back of the end zone.
* *"He definitely surprised me," Palmer said. "I knew where he was, and I tried to fit the ball in, and I shouldn't have thrown it. I should have tucked the ball in and not thrown it."
Wilson said he knew Palmer was reading him as the Bengals broke out of what Wilson called a bunch set anchored by tight end Jermaine Gresham.
"He ran what we call a crease route, trying to go up the chute, which is what we've been hit with the last couple of weeks," Wilson said. "I saw it, and I took a step down for Carson to read me because he's throwing it off of me. I took a step down on the seam, up the chute on the Mike linebacker and then I jumped out on the post. They ran a double-post right there on the goal-line. They ran a quick seam and I stepped down on it, and then I saw Carson looking outside and I jumped it."
SLANTS AND SCREEENS
» Bills cornerback Drayton Florence said the Bengals quit. Running back Fred Jackson said his Bills wanted it more. The Bengals denied it. The last Bills touchdown, a 30-yard ole' run by Jackson with 1:52 left, didn't look good.
"Nobody is going to quit in here," said right guard Clint Boling and Palmer said, "People might think I'm (crazy)," but the Bengals will be ready for Thursday.
"I've played against teams that turned it in and have quit and I've been on teams one time where that was the case, but I don't believe that's the case with this team," Palmer said. "At the end of the game, the long touchdown run, the last couple of plays, but for the most part we're fighting to get back in the game when they took the lead, and we just didn't make enough plays, or the right plays when the time came upon us."
» Owens' juggling 31-yard touchdown catch that would have given the Bengals a 38-28 lead with 4:55 left in the third quarter got erased by left tackle Andrew Whitworth's holding call. Whitworth said it was a "terrible call" because he had his legs pinned under him and he says Buffalo's Kyle Williams simply fell on top of him.
"He didn't think it was a hold," Whitworth said. "He said, 'Great catch,' and ran down the field. I didn't know it was on me until I got to the sidelines."
» Fitzpatrick did Sunday what Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan couldn't do against the Bengals in 2010.
The former Bengals quarterback pitched for 300 yards, 316 to be exact, despite throwing three interceptions on his first nine passes. One got eliminated by Bengals right end Michael Johnson's hit to Fitzpatrick's helmet, but one got returned for a touchdown by Joseph.
"You have to shrug it off," Fitzpatrick said. "Quarterbacks have short memories, just like everyone else has to. I wasn't going to stop thowing."
Joseph said the Bengals blitzed a linebacker and a safety on his TD and Fitzpatrick said when they ran the same blitz in the second half, cornerback Leon Hall slipped as Bills wide receiver Lee Evans took both safeties deep and wide receiver Steve Johnson shook loose for the last of his three touchdown catches, a 32-yarder that jacked the Bills lead to 42-31with 11:36 left in the game.
» Running back Clint Boling's fumble woes continued. He lost a fumble for the fourth time this season after losing one all of 2008 and 2009. This one, his fifth overall, was a killer on his first carry of the second half and the Bengals' second snap of the half. It ended up in the arms of Florence for a 27-yard return that cut the lead to 31-28 just 49 seconds after Fitzpatrick's strike to Steve Johnson.
Three of the fumbles have turned into touchdowns.
"They seem to happen at the very end of the tackle," said Benson, who was stripped by end Marcus Stroud as he was stood up on the left side for a loss of minus-one and Stroud came over from the right and poked it out just before Benson hit the ground.
"Close calls. I've never been a fumbler and I think largely it's a matter of trying too hard. Things aren't as smooth as they were last year. Granted there's no excuse. It's uncharacteristic of me and I need to correct it."
Benson says he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong mechanically.
"There's nothing more I can say," he said. "It's uncharacteristic of me and I need to change it. ASAP."
The Bills knew Benson had been struggling coming into the game.
"With our film study throughout this week, we saw the vulnerability and the inconsistency in the ball security with their running backs," Wilson said. "We all talked about the first guy that goes in, wrap up and hold him up, and the next two or three guys go in and rip at the ball. We had some great opportunities on some fumbles that weren't called fumbles, but we kept playing and kept hammering away and we were able to come away with the victory today."
Benson said he got hit in the head and had trouble with his vision right before he scored on a one-yard run with 10:59 left in the first half that made it 21-7, Bengals. He didn't come back until the fumble, but said his head was clear enough that the trainers let him go back into the game.