Bengals 44, Bills 31
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)—Chad Johnson got his first touchdown this preseason. The Bengals receiver’s bid to celebrate, though, was denied.
It didn’t matter much, because there was enough high-scoring entertainment in Cincinnati’s mean-nothing 44-31 win over the Buffalo Bills on Friday night.
Johnson and the defense led the way, helping Cincinnati produce the third-most points in a preseason game in team history—and most since a 45-0 win over Tampa Bay in 1977.
The always-colorful receiver, hard to miss sporting a new golden mohawk he debuted last weekend, had five catches for 73 yards and a 9-yard touchdown reception.
The only thing missing was a TD celebration after he caught Anthony Wright’s pass in the left corner for the Bengals’ go-ahead score 8 minutes into the second quarter. Johnson’s request to put on a show was turned down by an official because of the NFL’s new rules limiting celebrations.
“I asked the ref if I could celebrate,” said Johnson, who pleaded with the official immediately after the catch. “I offered to pay his fine. He said, `No.”’
At least Johnson made a contribution after being held without a catch in a 19-3 win against Washington last weekend.
“Great play by Anthony. Great scramble. Great focus. Great throw,” Johnson said of starter Carson Palmer’s fill-in. Palmer has practiced in training camp but is still recovering from a severe left knee injury.
Wright finished 9-of-19 for 99 yards and a touchdown in the first half, which ended with the Bengals ahead 27-17.
Cincinnati’s defense played a big role, forcing four turnovers in the first half, returning two of them for touchdowns on Dexter Jackson’s 72-yard fumble return and Keiwan Ratliff’s 26-yard interception return.
The Bills (0-2), coming off a 14-13 loss at Carolina last weekend, had a mixed outing. The 44 points they allowed is the fifth-most by a Bills team in preseason, and most since a 45-14 loss at Chicago in 1985.
Willis McGahee was the bright spot with nine rushes for 88 yards, including an electrifying 61-yard touchdown run on a power sweep to the left. The touchdown made up for McGahee’s miscue on the previous possession, when his fumble led to Jackson’s touchdown.
Quarterback J.P. Losman, however, had an up-and-down outing in his first preseason start, and after coach Dick Jauron named him the front-runner for the No. 1 job this week.
Losman finished 7-of-11 for 134 yards passing, but lost two fumbles and an interception, leading to 13 Bengals points. His worst pass was a quick out intended for Josh Reed, which was intercepted by Ratliff, who jumped the route with 6 minutes left in the second quarter.
Losman responded on the next possession, hitting Lee Evans in stride up the right sideline for a 46-yard touchdown.
“He’s got to protect the football,” Jauron said. “We’ve got to be forcibly patient. We’ve seen him perform. He’s got a strong arm. … Sometimes, he holds the ball too long. But we’ll just keep working and moving forward.”
“It was unacceptable,” Losman said.
The Bills played minus former Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes, held out as he continues to recover from a torn right Achilles’ tendon he hurt in Week 3 last season. Veteran safety Troy Vincent was rested while rookie cornerback Ashton Youboty was excused because of a death in his family.