The Bengals played a very good Cardinals team on the road in primetime. At different points in the game there were either extreme highs, or extreme lows. It ended on a sour note as the Cardinals sealed the win with a field goal and only a few seconds remaining. So did the Bengals follow the blueprint we laid out for a victory? Let's take a look back at what we thought the five keys to victory would be.
Establish the run
Nope. At times it looked like the Bengals were going to be able to create success in the running game. The first few runs Jeremy Hill had in the game were great. An extremely stupid penalty derailed a drive and the run game never really found life. 99 yards on 28 carries for the team is not getting it done.
The Cardinals boast a great defense and if the Bengals could have moved the ball on the ground, they would have kept a very good Cards offense off the field. Based on the way the Bengals fell behind in the game, the running game suffered to the passing game.
Injured. The Bengals, it seemed, couldn't catch a break in the secondary. The game once again started in favor of Cincinnati. At the end of the first quarter, Carson Palmer had as many completions to the Bengals as he did to the Cardinals.
Whether it was scheme or injury, the secondary was a major let down in the third quarter and then on the final drive. Allowing the Cardinals to easily move the ball down the field to be in position for the winning field goal was a low point in the game. That drive was just too easy.
Other than the third quarter, the Bengals did an excellent job pressuring Palmer. While the defense only ended up with two sacks, the front four of the Bengals disrupted the passing game and hit Palmer many times to force throws. I was happy with the pressure Cincinnati was able to create with just the lineman.
Involve A.J. Green
Listening to the commentators, you would have thought Patrick Peterson shut A.J. Green out of this game. The Bengals did not look his way at times in the game and opted to get the ball to some of their other playmakers. This does not mean that Green was shut down.
Green had a couple of drops that he should have caught. There was a deep pass that he was just short on and a little over thrown by Dalton, but Green had a decent day with 79 yards receiving. The biggest play to Green had to be the third and two with a minute left in the game. An under-thrown ball was still almost caught for a touchdown. That could have been the difference.
In the past couple of weeks, Kevin Huber has had some questionable punts. On Sunday, Huber was back to his old, reliable punting ways. He averaged over 48 yards on the five punts he booted. The problem was that it didn't matter the field position, the Cardinals were going to move the ball on offense.
So what were your takeaways? I think the Bengals showed a lot in a loss to a very good football team. I would have preferred the win, but the Bengals still have a huge opportunity to control their own destiny.