April 20, 2014

Second Take: 5 Thoughts on Bengals/Steelers

1. If the Bengals and their fans want to be taken seriously this season, they have to win a big game at some point. To date, Cincinnati has lost every game they’ve played with upper-echelon teams. It also didn’t help that today’s game was a national broadcast. The lopsided loss will do nothing to help Cincinnati’s perception around the league. Fortunately, the team will get a chance to change that somewhat with Houston in town next week, even if the Texans have rookie T.J. Yates under center.

2. Cincinnati’s defense desperately needs Carlos Dunlap. Desperately. Without him, Pittsburgh’s lackluster offensive line kept Ben Roethlisberger relatively clean and protected in the pocket. Dunlap’s absence also hurts a secondary that is depleted due to injuries, considering the backups will have to cover longer  and better on most passing plays.

3. Perhaps Cincinnati can make the playoffs even if they lose one more game, but I don’t see it happening. The Jets and Broncos seem to be gaining momentum and the Bengals are backsliding. The team should approach every game like it’s a playoff from now on. There’s zero room for error. Zero.

4.  A.J. Green is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, but I bet he’s also among the most penalized. Green seems to be responsible for at least one penalty every game and yesterday’s infraction cost his team a touchdown that could have changed  the whole complexion of the game. Instead, Cincinnati’s six points evaporated into nothing when the team’s field goal try was blocked. Barf. Shortly after that, the rout was on. Green seems like a nice kid and his talent is obvious, but he needs to clean up the penalties to master the position.

5. I’ll keep campaigning for Andrew Hawkins as much as I can. Hawkins had another nice catch and run yesterday and he adds some electricity to the Bengals’ offense. He’s too fast for linebackers and dangerous in open space. The Bengals would be wise to use him even more in the final four games.

Extra Point:  It’d be nice to see a full stadium for next Sunday’s game against Houston, but I have a feeling the Bengals could be facing a blackout once again. This Bengals team has exceeded expectations and deserves a raucous home crowd to help them drive toward the playoffs. Unfortunately, too many people are withholding their support due to the sins of the owner, Mike Brown. It’s time to put those vendettas aside and root for the home team.

Let’s go!