ORCHARD PARK — There certainly weren’t high expectations for Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis going into Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Six days after being promoted from the practice squad, Lewis helped the Bills engineer a comeback to force overtime.
Ultimately, the third-year pro couldn’t get the offense going in the extra period, as the Bengals escaped Ralph Wilson Stadium with a 27-24 win. The same Cincinnati defense held New England to six points last weekend.
“I thought Thad played great,” Buffalo center Eric Wood said, “He’s a confident player, and I knew he wouldn’t get down if we got down, so credit him for making plays and getting us back in the game.”
In his second National Football League start, Lewis completed 19 of 32 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and a short touchdown run.
After the game, the quarterback was wearing a walking boot on his right foot. While he didn’t know when he sustained the injury, Lewis said it was a foot sprain and x-rays were negative. “We checked it out,” he said. “I should be fine.”
Lewis’ first possession as the Bills’ starter went well, leading the team on a six-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. He threw a perfect deep ball to T.J. Graham down the left sideline to pick up 47 yards and later scrambled into the end zone from three yards out to put Buffalo in front, 7-3.
The next time the Bills got the ball, Lewis led another long drive down to the Bengals’ 2-yard line. Buffalo failed to punch the ball in on three runs by Fred Jackson and Lewis’ scramble attempt came up short on fourth down. The turnover on downs swung momentum in the game with Cincinnati going 98 yards for a touchdown.
The Buffalo offense continued to move the chains, getting a 51-yard field goal on their third possession.
Lewis’ struggles started after Jim Leonhard’s interception gave the offense good field position at the Cincinnati 38. The quarterback threw a screen to Jackson for a loss of three yards, took a sack for a loss of seven, and threw an incomplete pass, forcing the Bills to punt.
At the start of the third quarter, Lewis fumbled the ball away while trying to scramble away from Carlos Dunlap on third down. The turnover led to a Bengals touchdown. The Bills’ next two possessions ended with punts.
“I was happy except for the turnover,” Buffalo coach Doug Marrone said. “I thought he was trying to do too much; he just has to put the ball away and not turn the ball over.”
With the Bills barely hanging on, Lewis rebounded by finding tight end Scott Chandler open over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth down near the start of the fourth quarter.
Page 2 of 2 - With the Bills backed up at their own 14-yard line with 2:40 to play, the quarterback showed poise in leading the team on a game-tying touchdown drive. Lewis found Chandler open for a 25-yard gain, then hit Marquise Goodwin in stride with a perfect deep ball for a 40-yard score.
“I see cornerback (Terence) Newman peeking in the backfield and he peeked for a second,” Lewis said. “Marquise released inside. You want to get the ball to one of the fastest guys on the field. I threw the ball and he made a great catch.”
Buffalo went three-and-out on its only possession of overtime and Cincinnati’s Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal to win the game.
The Bills (2-4) will look to end their two-game losing streak when they visit Miami (3-2) on Sunday.