Determining the five keys to a Bengals victory is getting pretty tricky. With the way the game unfolded Sunday, there was a ton to point at and say "yeah, this is why the Bengals lost". However, there was a different narrative that played out. The Bengals didn't lose, they made an incredible comeback and now we are left to continually debate just how good this team is. It is a good problem to have.
So here, we take a look at what we thought the Bengals needed to do to ensure a victory and how it stacked up to the actual game.
1. Pressure Wilson
The Bengals ended the game with 4 sacks of Russell Wilson, but to him, I bet it felt like much more. The Bengals defensive line had a great day in pressuring Wilson and had him on the run the entire game. Wilson was able to make plays and extend drives with his feet, but the Bengals were able to disrupt him enough to not allow him clean throwing lanes.
The game never got away from the defense and the line was able to turn up the heat when it was needed the most. Sure, they were gashed by a backup running back, but the Seahawks couldn't accomplish much when they tried to put the game away. It was an outstanding job by the defensive line and it began with the pressure on passing games.
2. Cover Jimmy Graham
Graham had 3 catches for 30 yards with a long of 22 yards. I also remember him getting blown up by George Iloka, just like what happened with Graham and Iloka were matched up against in 2014 when Graham was on the Saints. Wilson finished the day with 213 passing yards, proving the pass defense as a whole was strong. In the past we've watched the Bengals get owned by tight ends and this defense was able to neutralize a pretty good one.
3. Make smart decisions
There was that one throw by Dalton to A.J. Green in the end zone that was just a flat out bad decision. Green was open, but not when Andy tossed the ball. This is a play where Andy needs to read the coverage. Usually when a corner is underneath, it is a dead give away there is help over the top. The safety even shaded toward Green before the snap so Dalton should have known the coverage. He missed and there was an interception.
4. Stop the run
Miss. The Bengals did not stop the run. A backup, undrafted running back ran freely against the Bengals for the first three quarters. Thomas Rawls (who?) took over for an injured Marshawn Lynch and gashed the Bengals for 169 yards including a 9 yard touchdown run. Had the Bengals lost the game yesterday, this would have been one of the key reasons.
5. Make kicks
How freaking fitting is it that I put this as one of the keys to the game? The Bengals put the fate of their Sunday on the foot of Mike Nugent at the end of regulation and then again for the win in overtime and he delivered. Huge props to the kid from Ohio State. Say what you want about the missed kicks this season, he scored six of the most needed points for the Bengals when it counted.
There it is. I am particularly proud of number 5.