The word "fluke" is defined as: an accident or chance happening. After the game on Sunday, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is quoted as saying the fourth quarter was fluky to him. Based on the way this defense has played this season, there was no fluke in the fourth quarter.
See, the Bengals only have four losses on the season (and the tie, that damn tie). All in all, this is an acceptable spot to be in with three games left. Based on what we have seen this season, the Bengals could easily win two out of three, end the season with 5 losses and wear the AFC North crown. We as fans however are not convinced this is a possibility. The reason is exactly why the performance in the fourth quarter against the Steelers was not "fluky".
When the Bengals have lost this season, man, they have really lost. To say the L's on the Bengals' record were not competitive games is an understatement. The Bengals helped to breathe life into a struggling New England team. They failed to put a dent in the defense of the Colts and Andy Dalton along with the rest of the Bengals offense were absolutely terrible against the Browns.
So to look at what transpired in the final period of the game on Sunday and call it a fluke is a little disheartening. Especially when it comes from the guy in charge of the unit that has seen this happen all season.
The Bengals don't have a pass rush. They struggle to stop the run. At times, the coverage of the secondary is non-existent. These are common factors we've seen even when the Bengals are winning. Would it surprise you if I told you that the Bengals are the only winning team in the AFC where they have been outscored in total on the season? The Bengals have scored a total of 281 points. They have given up 289.
Guenther should know this. In fact, he should know this more than anyone. Instead, he gives us quotes like this:
"I felt great and then all of a sudden, 12 minutes later, I'm in my car going home wondering what the hell just happened, I told my wife it happened like that, boom, boom, boom."
It did kind of happen like that, but to hear that from the guy that holds the keys to the door that allowed that to happen is discouraging. I can't imagine Mike Zimmer (or any number of defensive coordinators) describing a quarter like that.
Again, was it a fluke that the Bengals gave up 500+ yards? Nope. This is the third time this season the defense has allowed that. This can't happen with the Bengals.
So to drive the point home, we know what we have in this defense. No more should a pass be given to the unit. As much as we talk about Andy Dalton and the "Good Andy / Bad Andy" debate, the same could be said about this season's defense. There is a good defense that shuts down the running game and holds teams to under 11 points a game. Then there is a defense that has shown a tendency to get gashed for 500+ yards. As important as it is that we need Andy Dalton to step up in the final games of the season, this defense needs to step up, too.
In this, Guenther and I agree. After the loss he challenged his players by saying "It's a man's f**king game. You have to be able to man up regardless the situation."