If you're one to believe that you think the defense should be blamed for the Bengals 12-7 loss, let us give you some things to think about. On the first nine drives of the game, the Bengals punted seven times, botched a Field Goal attempt and threw a second-quarter interception. Furthermore, of the first five possessions, the Bengals drove to the Denver Broncos side of the field and twice drove inside the Broncos 40-yard line. They didn't score any points. In the second half after the first punt, the Bengals offense went three-and-out in three consecutive possessions, recording only 24 yards total in the first four possessions of the second half. Stinkin' second half adjustments, who needs them?
Before the Broncos scored on the 87-yard touchdown to win the game, the Bengals defense held the Broncos offense to only 215 yards of offense. They forced eight punts, five three-and-outs, three sacks and on only three possessions did the Broncos offense record more than one first down. Rey Maualuga recorded eight tackles, including two on special teams. Antwan Odom recorded two sacks, and two additional hits on the quarterback along with three total tackles for loss. Fanene had a sack and a tackle for loss while Pat Sims recorded another hit on the quarterback. Roy Williams led the Bengals defense with nine tackles.
It's easy though. The Bengals defense gave up an 87-yard touchdown. Therefore, they're to blame. If one wishes to over-simplify things and point to one moment in a 60-minute game in which saw 114 snaps, I can't persuade them. Of the other 59-plus minutes, the Bengals didn't do enough of the little things to assure themselves that a loss wouldn't come down to one fluke/lucky play (sorry Broncos fans, but you'd feel the same way). This Bengals offense can not wait 59 minutes before scoring their first points in the game. Asking the defense to hold the opposition to less than a touchdown each week isn't just unfair, it's impossible. So what happened? Did having Carson Palmer out for three preseason games kill whatever rhythm they could have had?
But it's hard to sit here and actually blame the defense.
After giving up successive runs to Correll Buckhalter for 22 yards rushing to start the game, the Bengals defense allowed a one-yard run, two incomplete passes before the Broncos punted the football. After Knowshon Moreno picked up five yards up the middle on the following possession, Keith Rivers stuffs Moreno for no-gain and Antwan Odom swats a pass at the line of scrimmage. Broncos punt. The story continues. On the third possession, Jonathan Fanene sacks Kyle Orton, Marshall picks up eight yards on a pass and Odom sacks Orton. Broncos punt. On the next possession, the Broncos go three plays, four yards, punt. On the next possession, they go three plays, eight yards, punt. With 1:48 left in the first half, the Broncos did kick a field goal with :04 left in the half after a nine-play drive. Fine. Three points. Blaming the defense yet? Not even close. At this point, there's no way the Bengals should be losing the way this defense is playing. But the Bengals offense assured it.
In the first play of the second half, the Bengals defense dropped Knowshon Moreno four yards behind the line of scrimmage. After a false start, the Broncos picked up12 yards on two plays. Punt. On the second drive of the second half, the Broncos would pick up two first downs. After picking up their second, Denver was left with a second-and-one at the Denver 40-yard line. Buckhalter was stuffed and the Bengals forced an incomplete pass. Punt.
After allowing a field goal to take a six-point lead, and after the Bengals continued to look terribly offensively, the Broncos had the ball at their own 35-yard line with 13:23 left in the game. Nine plays later, Denver's offense lines up at the Cincinnati 35-yard line on third-and-16. Already in position to kick a field goal, if Denver picks up yards on third down, it's that much easier to take a nine-point lead. With this offense, there's no chance that the Bengals could overcome a two possession deficit with seven minutes left in the game. Antwan Odom, lined up at the left defensive tackle spot, sacked Orton for a seven-yard loss. No way the Broncos attempt a field goal. So they punted, which gave the Bengals more than enough time to drive the length of the field, to take the lead with less than 40 seconds remaining in the game.
I believe the Bengals defensive performance was more than good. It gave Cincinnati every opportunity to win the football game. If the Bengals offense shows up, the 87-yard touchdown pass to end the game, isn't important. And if you want to blame the defense for the loss because of that one play, then you're not going to get me to agree. I'll grant as much that they may have made a mistake. The offense made many, many more. Offensive holding, offensive pass interference, Anthony Collins' two sacks allowed, the execution (and/or play calling) to start the second half, dropped passes by Laveranues Coles, a tipped pass that turned into an interception, missed blocks (or missed assignments) on rushing plays around the edges. We could go on.
But our job isn't to pile on -- yea, right. But it doesn't really matter how one side of the football does when it's a loss, does it? That's all that matters. And the Bengals head into week two against the Green Bay Packers 0-1.