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Bengals running backs struggle against Tampa Bay defense

Combining their performances, running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill posted 89 yards rushing on 23 carries. It was a matter of Tampa Bay focusing on shutting down Cincinnati's running game.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill finished Sunday's game with a combined 23 carries and 89 yards rushing. If we factor the five completions (four by Hill) for 16 yards receiving, the Bengals running back duo combined for 105 yards from scrimmage during Cincinnati's 14-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But it was tough sledding for the one-two combo.

"They game-planned it pretty well," Hill said via "They brought a safety down. Whenever we caught them in a two-(safety)-high, we ran the ball pretty well. When Andy made his checks, they kind of brought the safety down."

Hill finished Sunday's game with 40 yards rushing on 13 carries for a 3.1 yard/rush average. It's the lowest rushing yardage output for Hill since 25 yards rushing against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8.

Coming into this weekend, Hill had generated 448 yards rushing (112 yards rushing per game), three rushing touchdowns, and a 5.5 yard/rush average over the last four games. Hill added four receptions (Jermaine Gresham was the only player with more) for 12 yards against Tampa Bay, giving him 52 yards from scrimmage on the day

After missing three games with a hip and clavicle injury, Bernard has generated 94 yards rushing in two games with a 3.5 yard/rush average. More importantly, his contribution to the passing game has dwindled. After posting 11 receptions for 141 yards rushing in the opening two games this season, Bernard has accumulated 14 receptions for 64 yards receiving in the last seven games he's played.

Against the Buccaneers, Bernard had impressive runs in the first half (especially a 15-yarder after Cincinnati was stuck at the one-yard line), posting 44 yards rushing on five carries by half time. Bernard collapsed in the second half, posting five yards rushing on five carries... three second-half carries resulted in negative yardage, no-gain or just one yard.