Any Bengals fans that figured the Bengals would dominate the Rams in their Week 15 matchup are surely disappointed. The Bengals have driven down the field on offense somewhat easily, especially in the first quarter, but when they got in the red zone, the drives stalled. The Rams, luckily, have only been able to score six points against the Bengals, but those six points are enough to give them the lead at half time. The Bengals are allowing the Rams to be a dangerous team right now and that can become disastrous for the Bengals in the end.
Here is how the first half of the Bengals Week 15 matchup against the Rams played out.
The Rams got the ball first to start the game. After they were able to move the ball 20 yards down the field on six plays, most of them runs by Steven Jackson, they were stopped and forced to punt to the Bengals.
The Bengals' first drive was their best. Thanks to a roughing the passer penalty and a 55-yard bomb to from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green, the Bengals had the ball on the two-yard line with a first down. While that seems like good news, it was just the beginning of the team's red-zone woes. The Bengals were unable to punch the ball into the end zone after trying to run once and pass twice. They settled for a field goal to take a three-point lead.
The Rams got the ball back and had a chance to answer the Bengals' opening drive. They drove 58 yards down the field on 10 plays. A balanced attack of Jackson carries and passes from Kellen Clemens took the Rams from their own 15-yard line to the Bengals' 27-yard line. The Bengals were able to stop the Rams there. Josh Brown came out to attempt a 45-yard field goal but missed wide right.
On the Bengals' next drive, they moved the ball down the field 35 yards on seven plays but on the drive's eighth play, Dalton was looking downfield for his receiver, Andrew Hawkins. He threw the pass to Hawkins, who was heading towards the left sideline, but it was picked off by Rams cornerback Josh Gordy. Gordy could have turned the interception into a pick six but Dalton was able to stop him after 30 yards.
After that interception, each team had two straight three-and-outs. The Rams drove eight yards before they were stopped and forced to punt. The Bengals also only mustered eight yards before they punted as well. The Rams got the ball back and only moved the ball one yard before they punted after three plays and once again, the Bengals were forced into a three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Rams.
On the Rams' next possession, which started in the Bengals' side of the field thanks to a punt that was tipped by rookie defensive end Robert Quinn, they were able to move 31 yards down the field thanks to a couple tough runs and a mysterious face-mask penalty on Adam Jones. They were stopped at the Bengals' eight-yard line and Brown sent his next attempted field goal through the uprights, tying the game at 3-3.
The Bengals tried to answer back. On six plays they moved the ball 31 yards down the field. During that drive, rookie wide receiver A.J. Green injured his shoulder when he was tripped up chasing a ball down. He left the field and was taken to the locker room. With Green out, the Bengals attempted to go for the first down on a fourth-and-one play, but the Rams met Cedric Benson in the backfield and stopped him for a loss. The Bengals turned the ball over on downs.
The Rams took advantage of the Bengals' turnover. They drove 32 yards down the field on six plays into Bengals territory before they were eventually stopped on third down. Again, the Rams called on Josh Brown to kick a field goal and again, he sent the kick through the uprights. The Rams took a 6-3 lead with less than a minute left in the first half.
The Bengals will need to look like a completely different team in the second half. They're not playing like they have to win to go to the playoffs and if they continue to play the way they have throughout the rest of the game, they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.