The following is the ripped off title The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. We add five of each category, although you could probably add more to the bad and ugly considering the Bengals suffered their worst preseason loss, losing by 31 points; they lost by 30 points (44-14) to Atlanta in 1972.
Andy Dalton Poise: Dalton's first three possessions were about as rough of an introduction for a quarterback as possible; throws an interception on his first pass attempt (more below) and on the follow possession, on third-and-two, Dalton overthrows an open Chris Pressley out of the backfield. He was sacked on a poor Nate Livings pass block and Bobbie Williams failed to slow Ndamukong Suh, who ripped off the quarterback's helmet and driving him into the turf. By this time Dalton had only completed three of six passes for 16 yards passing with an interception.
When he could have folded, shipped it in and called it a night, Dalton did exactly the opposite. The offense took the field with 9:12 left in the second quarter, down 21-3. Dalton would complete eight of nine passes on the drive, settling down with short, high-percentage passes we've largely expected this offense would employ, evident by his 53 yards passing. Yet on the drive Dalton would impressively convert two third down passes; one to A.J. Green on third-and-five and another to Jordan Shipley on third-and-six. Unfortunately Bengals place kicker Mike Nugent would miss a 42-yard attempt after the two minute warning, ending the drive without any points scored.
Offensive Penalties: Cincinnati committed 100 penalties last year with 22 of them being false starts; something that's hurt the Bengals in the past. The Bengals offense didn't commit a false start against the Lions on Sunday and were only penalized twice. This might seem like a minor thing, but Cincinnati has had issues with penalties during previous seasons. However, one of those penalties, a Nate Livings holding that negated a 10-yard Brian Leonard screen pass, stalled a possible scoring drive as the game approached the two minute warning. The Bengals as a team committed four penalties.
Rey Maualuga: The team's starting middle linebacker was a beast. With five solo tackles during three Lions possessions, two were tackles for loss. He was the highlight of a linebacker unit that struggled in pass coverage all night.
Geno Atkins: While he didn't have the numbers to show for it, Atkins was impressively disruptive during running plays. With 11:22 left in the first quarter, Jahvid Best received the handoff and because Atkins pushed his offensive lineman deep into the backfield, was forced to make a cut three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Rey Maualuga penetrated the line of scrimmage by this point, forcing Best to lose a yard on the run.
Clinton McDonald: Bengals defensive lineman Clinton McDonald posted a team-high eight defensive tackles and forced a fumble.
Honorable Mention: Cedric Benson and the offensive line on rushing plays, DeQuin Evans, Morgan Trent, Dan Skuta on running plays.
Andy Dalton's Interception: The Bengals rookie quarterback didn't take his first snap of the game until 9:53 remained in the first quarter. A.J. Green, lined up wide right, runs vertical when Dalton takes his drop. The defensive lineman Bobbie Williams was designated to, cuts inside forcing Williams to miss the block. Dalton's two choices were to take the sack or get rid of the ball. The ball was under-thrown, largely because Dalton wasn't able to step into the throw, allowing cornerback Chris Houston inside position to intercept the pass.
Andy Dalton's Start: Here's how Dalton's first three called passing plays went down. Interception to Chris Houston. Incomplete third down pass to Chris Pressley out of the backfield that was badly thrown. Corey Williams quarterback sack on Dalton. In fairness to Dalton, two of those plays (the pick and sack) are largely blamed on the offensive line (more on that later).
Leon Hall: With over 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Leon Hall lined up tight against Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on first down. Stafford takes the snap, looks right at Johnson running a vertical route down the right sidelines. Stafford targets Johnson's back shoulder, allowing the receiver to turn around and haul in the touchdown pass. In Hall's defense, the cornerback was attached to Johnson's hip, largely beaten because of an underthrown pass that the receiver expected; which has beaten so many cornerbacks around the NFL.
On fourth-and-one with just under ten minutes in the first quarter, Stafford takes the snap and throws the football midway to the right side of the endzone. Hall tries to dive his outstretched hand to deflect the pass. Yet the pass was just perfectly thrown, only allowing Burleson a chance to haul in the touchdown pass that was originally called incomplete. We hate to say that Hall's performance was bad on both plays, rather believing that he was asked to cover two impossible plays. However the net results is two touchdowns allowed and that's just not acceptable.
Mike Nugent - Nugent missed a 42-yard field goal; his first since training camp began.
John Griffin On Kickoff Returns: After the Detroit Lions scored the game's opening touchdown in the first quarter, the Bengals' John Griffin returns the ensuing kickoff out of the endzone. Griffin loses the ball and the Lions recover, scoring a touchdown four plays later on fourth-and-one.
Pass Protection: Dalton's interception was largely the result of a failed Bobbie Williams block. Nate Livings missed his block on Corey Williams that led to a quarterback sack. With 1:28 left in the first quarter, Ndamukong Suh easily shed off a Bobbie Williams block that led to Suh hitting Dalton as the quarterback released the pass. Suh ripped off the quarterback's helmet and threw him to the ground generating a 15-yard personal foul. Overall pass protection was a struggle all night.
Offensive Possessions And No Touchdown: The Bengals only scored three points Friday night and their offensive possessions went: fumble, interception, punt, missed field goal, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, interception and punt.
Offensive Guards: As we listed above, the Bengals starting offensive guards had a terrible time during pass protection early in the game.
Turnovers Early In The Game: John Griffin lost a fumble that led to a Nate Burleson touchdown. Dalton threw an interception during his first pass of the game; the turnover didn't lead to any points.
Passing Defense: Matthew Stafford, Drew Stanton and Shawn Hill combined for 19 completions on 24 attempts for 205 yards passing and two touchdowns in the first half. Detroit quarterbacks posted a passer rating of 125.8 against the Bengals throughout the game, including three touchdowns, a 12.2 yard/completion average and 14 first downs through the air.