The agony of defeat. Up until the A.J. Green fumble, I was still confident the Bengals were going to win the football game. They were outplayed, out-coached and out-efforted, but in the final minute, they had a chance to win. We once again take a look at our keys to victory to see where the Bengals fell short. I will say, this post is much more fun to write when the Bengals win, but we've made it to Week 10 with this being the first non-winning reflection.
Counter the pass rush
It wasn't just J.J. Watt, although he was a dominating force up front for the Texans, the Bengals' offensive line failed to keep a clean pocket for much of the game. Part of this was because of the Bengals offensive lineman. Other reasons were questionable play calls and receivers not getting open. At times it seemed like Andy Dalton held onto the ball for a bit too long, but when looking at the play, receivers just weren't open.
Establish the run
Cincinnati ended the game with 73 rushing yards. Thirty of those yards were from Andy Dalton. I think it is time to question why the Bengals can not get any production out of Jeremy Hill. The Bengals starting running back finished the day with 20 total yards. Fifteen of them came in the running game, five were from a pass. Can the Bengals continue to trot Hill out as the starter when he is not showing any signs of production? Giovani Bernard finished the night with 79 total yards. All in all, it was a poor rushing effort from the Bengals.
Keep an eye on Nate Washington
Nate Washington did not blow up the stat sheet, but he was on the receiving end of some key passes for the Texans. In fact, the Texans spread the ball around in this game. Seven players finished the night with at least one catch and four of them had more than 30 yards. The Texans' number one receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, made a spectacular catch to score the game's only touchdown. While the Bengals defense did an admirable job, they were facing a backup quarterback in T.J. Yates for that touchdown and most of the second half of the game.
Feed Tyler Eifert
Well, they tried. There is no way around it, Tyler Eifert had a bad game. Really, this is his first bad outing of his young career and can be excused. It doesn't change the fact that when your offense heavily utilizes a player, and that player fails to do his part, it is going to be bad news. Had Eifert not had the drops, the outcome of the game could have been drastically different.
This team didn't seem hungry. Last night was more cute than hungry. I don't like the scripted off balance and unique line shifts. There is a reason tackles in the NFL don't typically line up wide. I would prefer to see the Bengals stick to their offense. Notice how when the script ends, the funky play calls also disappear. Stick to your bread and butter.
It is not the end of the world. The Bengals are still in a great spot to land a first round bye in the playoffs. Hopefully this was the wake-up call they needed.