Another disappointing Sunday has the Bengals down-right reeling. After losing at home to the 1-3 Dolphins, (and a week of talk about how “angry” they were about it), the Bengals proceeded to go to Cleveland and lose to an 0-5 team (on an 11-game losing streak) by 10 points.
And it was ugly. Not San Diego ugly, but pretty close.
The Bengals had a 7 point halftime lead, and pretty much dominated the half aside from one completely boneheaded play in the secondary. Had they managed to get the safeties to play with discipline, and got one second on the clock they were entitled to, they could have headed into the locker room up 17-0, but as it was 14-7 wasn’t bad.
Then the roof caved in. Despite longer time of possession, more yards by over 100, and a better-quality football team, the Bengals lost thanks to a comedy of errors that rivaled some of those Dave Shula teams of the early 1990’s.
And now they must get ready for an equally-desperate Steelers team, coming off a loss themselves, with 4 extra days to prepare. It makes me shudder.
We’ll examine the mental state of the team, Marvin Lewis, and Who Dey Nation later. In the meantime, here’s this week’s Hit List:
Goats—These Guys Let Us Down
- Andy Dalton: 381 yards is a career high, but a lot of that came in garbage time after Cleveland got up by 17 points in the fourth quarter. 3 touchdown passes is also nice, but the 3 picks were bad—particularly the pick-six to Sheldon Brown. Andy also held the ball too long generating a fumble in the red zone that ultimately doomed the comeback. Look, I like the kid. I still have high hopes for him, but he clearly has some growing left to do.
- BJGE: I’m sure he’s a great guy in the locker room, and a real pal in the huddle. I’ll even concede that he has a fantastic work ethic, is coach-able, and has a ton of heart. That’s all fantastic in the Rudy Ruettiger kind of way, but it doesn’t gain four yards against apparently ANY defense. We need to try something else.
- Brandon Tate: Not only does this receiver not come back to the football, allowing things like pick sixes, but he’s also an underwhelming return man. Twice on Sunday he took the kick-off out from deep in the end zone. Both times he was stopped well short of the 20 yard line. I honestly don’t see the fascination with the guy as a returner or receiver. He runs too high, seems careless with the football, and just looks tentative out there. How about Adam Jones returning kick-offs? How about Marvin Jones taking more of Tate’s snaps at receiver? Who’s with me?
Heroes—These Guys Went Down Swinging
- A.J. Green: 135 yards on 7 catches, and two touchdowns. The second one was almost Jordan-esque. He seemed to say, “Just throw it deep and let’s get back in this thing.” He beat double coverage on the 57-yard touchdown that, momentarily at least, breathed new life into the team. I’m convinced at this point that he cannot be covered—even when opponents scheme to take him away with double or cloud coverage. Even with no one else catching passes. The dude is money.
- Michael Johnson: The Bengals need to get his agent on the phone about an extension before he hits the market. Johnson added an interception to his 2012 resume, while again playing nearly all the snaps at DE. The Bengal defense was bad to start the game, and Johnson’s pick helped calm the Bengals down and set up their first score—a 55-yard pass from Dalton to Jermaine Gresham.
- Cedric Peerman: After spending the last two years as a special teams contributor, Peerman was forced into action with Brian Leonard getting injured (again). The former Virginia Cavalier responded with 76 yards receiving on 8 catches. He also had one carry for 8-yards, but proved he could be the guy to spell BJGE going forward. His speed is deceptive, his hands are good, and his pass protection is solid. I think Sunday he made the statement that he’s earned more PT on offense, and he just might get it.
MVP: A.J. Green.
Green now leads the entire NFL in receiving yards with 628, and is second in receiving touchdowns with 6. This, despite being a one-man gang out there against double and triple coverage. He’s playing better than guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Calvin Johnson.
Random Observations—No Haikus
- Maualuga didn’t suck quite as bad this week. Vontaze Burfict still outplayed him though.
- Where’s the Carlos Dunlap effect? Despite leading the NFL in sacks, it doesn’t look like there’s much of a pass rush going on.
- Is it just me, or should the next 2 WR’s after A.J. be Baby Hawk and Marvin Jones?
- After being solid as a rock on coverage teams, and a history of containing Josh Cribbs, they let him bite them Sunday. That being said, I agree with Jeromy Miles that it looks like Cribbs called fair catch.
- For all the preaching Marvin Lewis does in every press conference about 3rd downs, his team is terrible at them–on offense and defense. They converted 5 of 14 on offense (35%) which was actually better than the last few games, but still vomit-worthy. Defensively, despite a stretch of forcing 4 3-and-outs, the Browns finished with a 41% 3rd down conversion rate for the game.
- With all the above being true, this stat above all proved to be the difference: Turnovers: Bengals 4, Browns 1.