This week's MVP article is going to be a little different. Since the Bengals' Week 13 loss to the Steelers was so ugly and one of the worst games the team has played so far this season, we're unable to come up with many MVPs. So, each contributor, Joe Goodberry, Anthony Cosenza and Dave Wellman picked two Goats instead. That doesn't mean you won't get to see our MVP pick, which will be provided by me.
It's A.J. Green. There's your MVP and here's why: he was literally one of the only guys on the team who had what you could call a good game. He caught six passes for 87 yards and the team's only touchdown and he also had one carry for 15 yards.
Now that we got that out of the way, here are your Goats.
We'll start with Joe Goodberry's Goats:
"Special Teams: Where do we start? Delay of game; blocked kicked; fumble kickoff return; block in the back; allow punt return for TD. That pretty much sums up the worst special teams disaster I have ever seen. How can can special teams directly impact 17-points in one game? To name a few players who sucked the most; Nate Livings, Jeromy Miles, Brandon Tate (again), and Kevin Huber."
- Not only did the Bengals special teams unit allow the Steelers to score on a punt return but the Bengals fumbled on a kickoff return which set up the Steelers for their third touchdown. That's a huge swing and while it might not have been the difference in this game, it would have much closer of a game if the special teams unit stepped up.
"Bengals Management/Scouting: I know the secondary has been ravished with injuries, but when you actually believe that Chris Crocker can cover slot WRs in man coverage, you're not evaluating your own talent correctly. It's not Crocker's fault. He can only do his best in the situation coaches put him in. No safety in the NFL can cover WRs on a consistent basis. The Bengals had a former 3rd round pick (Ghee) sitting on the bench instead. What makes all of this worse is a player not even on the team anymore; Jonathan Joseph. The Bengals couldn't/wouldn't/didn't re-sign him in the off-season. He's still playing light-out and there's no doubt he's the 2nd best CB in the NFL. We haven't brought his name up this season because the Bengals haven't missed Joseph. Hall and Clements have played well. But when both of those guys are out of the lineup and Joseph is locking-down Pro Bowl WRs, it doesn't look good for the front office."
- There's no question that Johnathan Joseph is missed, especially now that Leon Hall is out for the season. There are quite a few positions that could use an upgrade and it will be interesting to see what they do with the two first-round picks they have in 2012.
Anthony Cosenza's Goats:
"The Bengals Offensive Line. They looked horrible Sunday--particularly the interior. Nate Livings allowed a punt to be blocked, Andrew Whitworth let James Harrison get three sacks of Dalton, Kyle Cook had a holding penalty and Andre Smith got injured. On top of all of that they struggled in the run game mightily. Horrible performance by each one in this group."
- The Bengals' offensive line looked terrible through much of the game on Sunday. The Steelers have a good defense, we know that, but that defense completely dominated the Bengals offense in the trenches. Cedric Benson didn't ever really get any room to run and Andy Dalton barely had time to get set to pass. The Bengals play another very good defense on Sunday when the Texans come to visit and the line needs to be in much better shape to get the win.
"The referees. I've given this nod to an officiating group in the first Ravens game a couple of weeks back and I hate to point to them as an excuse for a loss. However, an obvious missed call on a block in the back on the back-breaking punt return was missed and another one was not called on a Mike Wallace TD reception. Even the 45-yard Chris Crocker pass interference penalty was questionable. There were a couple of other times that offensive holding wasn't called as well. It became a frustrating day in which it seemed the refs were picking on the Bengals."
- Anthony is running the risk of being "the refs screwed us again" guy (just kidding, Anthony). There's no question that penalties killed the Bengals, especially on their first offensive drive. There's no way to know which way the referees' calls will go and ultimately it's the Bengals responsibility not to put themselves in a situation in which the refs can really hur them, but they definitely didn't do the Bengals any favors on Sunday.
Dave Wellman's Goats:
"Marvin Lewis. For the first time all year, we saw this Bengals team fold its tent well before the end of the game. To date, they had always scratched and clawed no matter the situation, but down 28 points, they gave up. Now, far be it from me to blame them. Hell, at 28 points down *I* shut this stinker off. But I'm not getting paid to play the game, and they are. So I'm looking at you, Marv. Your team was undisciplined, unprepared and ultimately uninspired. In the biggest game of the year so far, they came up small. Here's your shovel. Do your job."
- Hopefully Marvin Lewis gets the Bengals ready for the next three games because they are must wins. They don't want to be in a situation in which they need to beat Baltimore to make it to the playoffs. The team that showed up on Sunday was the team that many analysts and fans expected the Bengals to be in the preseason. Hopefully that team doesn't show up again and it's the Bengals that won five games in a row that show up on Sunday to play the Texans.
"Everybody Else. Really, I think this seems to be the theme of all our goat picks this week. It's difficult to single out any one player because everybody, in all three phases of the game, took turns laying an egg. By the end of the game you could have stocked a grocery store's dairy aisle. No, the poor officiating didn't help, but neither did the dropped passes, poor blocking, missed tackles and all the rest. Were they pressing yesterday? Looked like it to me. Hopefully they settle down and play better against a banged-up Texans squad next week."
- This is probably the best pick for the team's goat. Everybody. The entire team looked bad. Like I said earlier, A.J. Green was the only player on the team that had somewhat of a good game but at the same time he's responsible for the Bengals first touchdown to get called back because of a false start penalty. There wasn't a player on the entire team that really had a flawless performance on Sunday.