The Bengals went into Sunday's game in Chicago with a lot of hype. Unfortunately, when the last seconds fell off the clock, the hype didn't help them get a win. That's not to say the Bengals looked terrible, though. For much of the game they looked like the team that pundits and analysts believed they would be.
Here's seven points from the Bengals' Week 1 loss to the Bears
|Point One: Andy Dalton looked sharp|
Dalton's third year in the league is going to be a big one. More than ever, the team's success rests on his shoulders, and fans, as well as the coaches, should know if he's the right guy behind center moving forward. In Dalton's first game of the 2013 season, mistakes were made, but for the most part, he looked better than ever. Dalton finished the game by completing 26 of 33 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 97.7. His 78.8 completion percentage was a career high and his 8.5 yards per completion percentage is the seventh best in the league.
Dalton's two interceptions may count against him, but they weren't necessarily his fault. Charles Tillman, who intercepted both passes, cut in front of A.J. Green on a slant route early in the game, picking Dalton off, and then caught a pass that went right through Green's hands later in the game. Green could have prevented both of those picks.
If Dalton continues to play at this level, the Bengals offense will be in good hands.
|Point Two: The play calling was impressive|
The Bengals added a lot of weapons in the offseason and were able to maintain most of the roster from 2012. With guys like Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard added to the mix, it was nice to see them on the field and producing in Week 1. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had both Jermaine Gresham and Eifert on the field at the same time often, which seemed to give the defense fits and also opened things up for Green. Bernard also played well and made some things happen when he had the ball.
Gruden called a lot of good plays, including some play-action passes that completely fooled the defense. It's clear that defenses are going to struggle with covering all the weapons the Bengals have at their disposal in 2013.
|Point Three: Vontaze Burfict was everywhere|
Vontaze Burfict is the man in charge on defense now and he didn't have a backwards slide in his sophomore year. He led the Bengals in tackles. Even on plays where he didn't make tackles, he was around the ball. That's the mark of a good linebacker. His interception was just icing on the cake.
Burfict has continued to show that he easily is a first-round talent from the 2012 draft and one of the best signings the Bengals have made over the last few years.
|Point Four: Green is still the man|
I mentioned that Green could have technically prevented both of Dalton's interceptions on Sunday, but that doesn't mean he didn't play well. Once again Green was a beast, catching nine passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He continues to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and with the extra receivers added to the mix, defenses are having a tougher time dedicating more than one defensive back to covering him.
|Point Five: Stupid mistakes|
It was a loss so every point can't be good, right? The Bengals beat themselves on Sunday with stupid mistake after stupid mistake. Whether it was penalties (eight of them) or turnovers (three of them) the Bengals seemed to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. If you take away one of those turnovers, either Mohamed Sanu's fumble of one of Dalton's interceptions, or reverse a key penalty, the Bengals come away with a Week 1 win.
Luckily, those are the mistakes that are easy to fix.
|Point Six: Anthony Collins|
Collins started at left tackle in place of the injured Andrew Whitworth and went up against Julius Peppers all day. Collins was able to keep Peppers, a future hall of famer, out of the game, keeping him from a single tackle. When asked about going up against Peppers after the game, Collins said, "I'm a grown man too."
It's nice to have that kind of depth at the offensive tackle position. Most teams aren't so lucky.
|Extra Point: Other stuff|
I say other stuff because seven points isn't enough to cover everything I want to. So here's some other stuff:
- Every team in the AFC North lost in Week 1. The Bengals are still tied for first place in the division.
- The Steelers, who come to Cincinnati for Monday Night Football in Week 2, looked bad on Sunday.
- Rey Maualuga may have made a stupid play at the end of the game that allowed the Bears to run out the clock, but he played well for the most part, both in run support and pass protection.
- This was one of the more encouraging losses I've seen since I've been a Bengals fan.
- It's going to be a fun season.