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It's All About Defense Today, Boys: Bengals Hold On With A Three-Point Lead At Half Time

Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton started the game firing surgical passes, following up an impressive second half during Cincinnati's 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos last weekend. During the first drive of the game on Sunday, Dalton completed five of six passes, pushing the Bengals offense 76 yards on 12 plays. The drive eventually stalled (thanks to ineffectual runs by Cedric Benson inside the 49ers 10-yard line), forcing the Bengals' place kicker Mike Nugent to convert a 22-yard field goal.

After that the Bengals offense has stalled. During their next four possessions, the Bengals offense ran 17 plays for 32 yards, all resulting in punts. And Dalton has completed five of nine passes for only 29 yards passing. Bengals running back Cedric Benson, though a large part of the team's gameplan, has run the football nine times for a pedestrian 26 yards rushing. Andre Caldwell is clearly the team's best receiver, and most targeted, haling in five passes for 45 yards receiving.

Yet ineffectual is an understatement. Additionally stalling after the team's game-opening field goal, the Bengals resume their ineffectual offense that went 1-11 on third downs against the Broncos last week. This week the Bengals have failed to convert their first five third down opportunities against the 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers offense didn't promote offensive efficiency either; largely thanks to an effective pass rush that included two quarterback sacks and defensive line play by Domata Peko and Geno Atkins. The 49ers first four possessions posted 19 plays for 43 yards, all ending with punts. San Francisco did pick up yards close to half-time on a nine-play, 29-yard drive that ended with a Pat Sims swim move, dropping Frank Gore for a one-yard loss. You tricky 49ers, you. That's five possessions by the San Francisco offense, all resulting in punts. Andy Lee punted the football to Cincinnati's 15-yard line with one minute remaining in the first half and all three timeouts remaining. It didn't matter .A Bernard Scott down the left sidelines picked up eight yards, as the Bengals were content to end the half with a knee.

This is a defensive struggle between two teams with a stalling offenses. You just never know when or if points will be scored again. The 49ers will take the second half opening kickoff.