The Bengals lost their second game in a row to another division rival, the Baltimore Ravens. They now sit at 6-4 and they no longer have control of the AFC North. However, if the season ended today, the Bengals would still be a wildcard team and, the way the Bills and Jets have been playing, they look like they can at least go to the playoffs as a fifth or sixth seed.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, though, here are our picks for the Bengals MVP and Goat in their Week 11 loss to the Ravens.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"Jerome Simpson: The Bengals needed Simpson to step into AJ Green's shoes and act like the go-to guy in this offense. Simpson stepped up in the biggest way. He created the initial spark with a juggling catch on the Bengals first scoring drive. He consistently made catches to move the ball during the game. Then, when the Bengals needed a big play to get into scoring range with less than two minutes remaining, Jerome Simpson caught a beautiful Andy Dalton pass in-stride to set the Bengals up at the Ravens seven yard line and down by seven points. Great effort by Simpson as he made fans forget about Green on a few plays."
- Simpson's 152 yards receiver is the most receiving yards he's ever had in a game. Joe is right: the Bengals needed Simpson to step up and he did. Big time. If Simpson plays the way he did against the Ravens on the opposite side of the field from Green, the Bengals may think about keeping him around after the season. Right now, I think he's on the bubble.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"Geno Atkins: On a day when the rest of the Bengals vaunted defensive line went AWOL, Geno Atkins was the only guy to get consistent pressure all game. Atkins finished the day with six tackles and the team's only sack."
- Atkins is one of my favorite players on the line. He isn't just a pass rusher, he's an every down player. Somehow, he's in the backfield all the time and with guys like Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson rushing the passer from the edge, a guy that won't allow the quarterback to step up in the pocket is invaluable.
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Andre Caldwell: It sounds weird to pick him, but he did have arguably the biggest play in the Bengals' comeback effort with a 49-yard touchdown reception. He also forced a red zone pass interference penalty that set up the team's first score. He and Simpson both stepped up in Green's absence, but it was Caldwell who had the only receiving score."
- Due to Green's absence against Baltimore, the Bengals needed both of their most experienced wide receivers to step up. Caldwell didn't have as good of a game as Simpson did, but like Anthony said, he had one of the biggest plays of the game. Hopefully Caldwell can continue to play on the same level (minus any mistakes) when Green returns to the lineup and Caldwell returns to the slot.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Andy Dalton: Even though Dalton was clutch when the Bengals needed him, the reason they were down by 17 falls on the hands of Dalton. Two of his three interceptions were back-to-back and one set the Ravens up on the two yard line. Until the fourth quarter, Dalton's deep accuracy was poor. He missed Simpson and Andre Caldwell for what could have been big gains or touchdowns. The receivers were open deep all game and if Dalton and the offense could've taken advantage, the game wouldn't have been close. He's a rookie and this game will prepare him for future Ravens games, but this was a winnable game. Andy Dalton gas to protect the ball better and punish the defense when they leave your receivers running all alone."
- If the Bengals didn't turn the ball over the way they did, there's a very good chance they head into Week 12 with a 7-3 record instead of a 6-4 record. The fact is that Dalton made a couple of rookie mistakes against the Ravens and he made those mistakes because he's a rookie. The downside is that the Bengals lost, the upside is they have a bright future with Dalton at the helm.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"The rest of the defensive line: Yo, guys, there was a game Sunday! Despite Baltimore's shaky offensive line, the Bengals much-praised defensive line gave Joe Flacco all kinds of time last weekend. As a result, Flacco was able to attack Cincinnati's undermanned secondary and hit several big passing plays. The Bengals' tckles and ends will need to pick it up -- and fast -- or it's going to be a long last six weeks."
- With Leon Hall out for the season, the Bengals will need their defensive line to not allow opposing quarterback sit back and pick apart the team's weak secondary. They didn't do that on Sunday against the Ravens. Joe Flacco had a lot of time on the majority of the times he dropped back to pass to sit there and find an open receiver. That cannot happen.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"The officiating crew: Let the record show that I absolutely HATE using "the refs screwed us" as an argument supporting a loss. Sunday was just full of strange calls and such from the group. Most notably, the referees took what looked like a clear touchdown grab away from Jermaine Gresham. This proved to be one of the biggest plays/calls of the game and has since garnered much national debate on the rule. There was also a possible blow to Dalton's head/horse collar tackle on a play late in the game that went uncalled. The one that's going unnoticed though, is on a play where both an interception from Dalton and a fumble by cornerback Jimmy Smith ensued. After Smith fumbled, Head Referee Ron Winter was in the way and briefly eclipsed both Andre Smith and Dalton from re-recovering the ball and starting with a new set of downs. Instead, the Ravens got the ball inside the Bengals' 5-yard line and scored a touchdown putting them far ahead."
- I, like Anthony, hate blaming refs for a team's loss. While I understand why the officials overturned Gresham's touchdown, I hate the rule on which they based their call. The Calvin Johnson Rule is terrible and needs to be changed. If Gresham's play was ruled a touchdown, the Bengals could have at least tied the game in the final minutes and gone to overtime where they could have won.