Oh my god... The Cincinnati Bengals have the worst pass rush in the NFL. Those were the creeping thoughts that invaded your otherwise serene perspective, wasn't it? How frustrating was it to watch Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger navigate his receivers through act of pointing, text messages, and even old school mail delivered via the good folks at the United States Postal Service. And still... the Bengals had no pass rush.
It was all season with the Steelers all pro offensive line too. Of 82 called passes, in both games combined, the Bengals failed to sack Ben Roethlisberger and generated only three hits and 16 pressures.
In fact, the Bengals statistically have the worst pass rush in the NFL, accumulating a league-worst 20 quarterback sacks -- their lowest number of sacks since 2008 (17). In the preceding three seasons ('11-'13), the Bengals averaged 46 quarterback sacks. Last year the Bengals had nine games with three quarterback sacks or more. There were only two this season.
To put this under a different light, though no less insane, there were 22 players in the NFL that accumulated more quarterback sacks than the eight that Carlos Dunlap generated, the team's leading sacker. Or... if we combine the base salaries with roster and workout bonuses, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry made $14.5 million this season... or $1.16 million per sack.
On the other hand, while the number of sacks was embarrassingly low, their overall pass rush didn't take that much of a nose dive.
Still none of that matters.
What matters is that in Cincinnati's most recent game, their overall pass rush was awful. Heading into wild card weekend against one of the league's top quarterbacks, this performance bodes dangerously ill.
For instance, the Steelers have 8:23 remaining in the second quarter from the Bengals 14-yard line. The Bengals offered no pass rush with Robert Geathers and Margus Hunt at defensive end and Domata Peko and Brandon Thompson at tackle. Roethlisberger is hangin', pointing and doing things that NFL quarterbacks shouldn't the time to do. Yet...
We have first and ten with 9:45 remaining in the third from the Steelers 40-yard line. Seven-step drop.
Third quarter with 5:43 remaining from the Bengals 44-yard line.
And when they actually generated a pass rush, they'd forget to cover one of Ben Roethlisberger's biggest weapons in Health Miller.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals five-worst pass rushers were all on the defensive line.
If there is one caveat about Cincinnati's pass rush this weekend, it's that the Bengals generated two quarterback sacks in week seven against the Colts (Peko had one, Dunlap and Atkins had a shared sack) with eight quarterback hits and 10 additional pressures.