Much like their come from behind win over the Cleveland Browns, this game is winnable. At least that's what we're hoping the head coach Marvin Lewis screams at his players, who seem a little lifeless after the first half ended with the Broncos taking a 10-3 lead into half time.
And though Cincinnati's offense is struggling, they're not playing poorly. Andy Dalton is completing high percentage passes and running back Cedric Benson is nearing a five-yard run average. Yet when the Bengals need to convert on third-and-short, they've failed to do it three times. And on the drive that they were nearing into the Broncos Red Zone, Clint Boling sets the offense back with an offensive holding that stalls the drive, forcing the Bengals to settle for a 45-yard field goal.
The Bengals offense has posted a pedestrian 93 yards of total offense, failing to convert a single third down.
Of the team that was least ready to play early, it was the Bengals defense, who allowed a 15-play, 80-yard drive during the Broncos opening drive of the game. After the Broncos took a 7-0 lead, the defense settled in, limiting Denver to four yards on the next three possessions; the third a result of a Reggie Nelson forced fumble.
Yet towards the end of the first half, the Bengals defense disappointed once again. With 6:33 left in the first quarter, the Broncos ran a 64-yard drive on 16 plays. The Bengals defense eventually stiffened when the Broncos reached the Red Zone, forcing Kyle Orton to throw consecutive incomplete passes from the Bengals eight-yard line before Geno Atkins ended the scoring drive with a third down quarterback sack.
The Bengals defense has allowed 169 yards of total offense but most importantly, they've allowed five of eight third down conversations.