I’m sure that this wasn’t how the script was supposed to go for the the new look Cincinnati Bengals as they limped home to a 34-3 beat down by the Detroit Lions at Ford Field Friday night. The bright spots though, the Bengals managed to stop the run effectively, ran the ball well, and avoided the big injury.
It started early for the Bengals when Leon Hall was beat for the game’s opening score by Calvin Johnson who was on the receiving end of a perfect back shoulder throw by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. On the ensuing kickoff, college free agent running back John Griffin out of Massachusetts fumbled away the ball giving the Lions great field position.
The Bengals defense thought they had gotten off the field though when a 3rd down pass was initially ruled incomplete by the officials. Replays clearly showed that Nate Burleson had gotten both feet in bounds with possession, with Lions head coach Jim Schwartz challenging the ruling successfully, the Bengals found themselves down 14-0 before the much anticipated debuts of Andy Dalton and AJ Green.
When the first two draft picks finally did make it onto the field, Dalton was picked off on his first play from scrimmage on a poorly thrown ball. The pass had been intended for AJ Green, though he did his QB no favors by not helping him out, Chris Houston had an easy pick for the Lions.
The defense though in the first half played well despite the lack of offense and it appears based on tonight’s performance that the move to MLB by Rey Maualuga should go well. He was all over the field and racked up 5 tackles, all of the solo variety.
Despite the shaky start, Andy Dalton settled down and got into a rhythm and ended up taking all of the first half snaps. In the 2nd quarter he led the Bengals on a 13 play 65 yard drive that ate up 7 minutes that ultimately ended on a Mike Nugent missed 42 yard field goal.
Given its first game in live action, Jay Gruden’s new West Coast Offense left a lot to be desired. The lack of OTA’s and an extended training camp, coupled with a rookie QB, a newly signed free agent QB certainly did the Bengals no favors, and the rust was very apparent. The only bright side from the offensive side of the ball was that Cedric Benson played well in limited action averaging over 6 yards per carry. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if this offense is to have any success, Andy Dalton and the receivers will need to get better, quickly because teams will just stack the box to stop Benson.
Despite losing rookie LB Dontay Moch in the first quarter with a foot injury, the Bengals avoided the major injury, something they haven’t been able to do historically in the Motor City, i.e. Ki-Jana Carter, Kenny Irons.
The bottom line is that it’s one game. It’s the first game of the preseason. Take from it what you will. The Bengals avoided a major injury, and had some signs of life in the 2nd quarter on offense once Dalton settled down and Benson got into a groove. The secondary of the defense was shredded by all 4 Lions quarterbacks. If you like hearing loud cursing and yelling, you may want to head down to Georgetown this week because Mike Zimmer will be putting on a show.
Enjoy your weekend folks. Just be glad there’s real football to watch on TV now.