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Week 11 Bengals vs Cardinals: Pro Football Focus grades, analysis from Bengals' loss

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Our friends from Pro Football Focus shared some interesting highlights and statistics from the Bengals' close loss in Arizona on Sunday. We break it all down and provide analysis on the best and worst players of the week.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The high from the Bengals' 8-0 start is now over. At 8-2 this is certainly still a team to be feared, as long as they can get back on a winning streak. Some of the highest graded players by our friends at Pro Football Focus from the Bengals game against the Cardinals include: Geno Atkins (+7.5), Michael Johnson (+3.3), Kevin Zeitler (+2.9), Emmanuel Lamur (+2.5), and Carlos Dunlap (+1.9).


For years the narrative has been that Andy Dalton can't make deep throws. It's a bit of an unfair assessment because he does make plenty of them in crucial situations, but he struggled this week in a key area of the field. He attempted six deep throws on Sunday and found his receiver exactly zero times. You could argue that the Cardinals' DBs were playing well, but ultimately that's a black mark on his efforts on the day. On these passes, he received a grade of -3.7 from Pro Football Focus.

It wasn't all bad from Dalton, though. He received a positive overall grade (+1.1). That was mainly due to his ability to get the ball in the receivers' hands 66 percent of the time when throwing inside the 20 yard lines. He also threw for 315 yards for two touchdowns, and no interceptions despite very poor pass blocking from the offensive line as a whole.

Speaking of the Cardinals' DBs playing great coverage, Patrick Peterson, covered A.J. Green for the majority of the night and Green was reduced to two catches for 24 yards in those situations. Green played fairly well when not covered by Peterson though. When covered by Jerraud Powers, Green was targeted three times and hauled in two of those passes for 55 yards. That said, he received the most average possible grade for his efforts on Sunday night (0.0).


Jeremy Hill only averaged 3.5 yards per carry on his way to the same overall grade as Green (0.0). But, his ability to create yards after contact was a bright light in an otherwise dimly lit tunnel. 33 of his yards came after contact, and that included two forced missed tackles. Giovani Bernard's six carries for 18 yards (3.0 yards per carry) added to the Bengals' poor night of rushing.

But, the running backs contributed in ways other than just yards. Hill continued his trend this year of averaging a low number of yards per carry, but still punching the ball in the endzone when given the opportunity. Hill's seven rushing touchdowns on the season put him behind only Devonta Freeman (9) on the ground and behind only Tyler Eifert, DeAndre Hopkins, and Freeman in terms of touchdowns scored by any non-quarterback. Giovani Bernard contributed as a receiving back this week in a very substantial way, catching eight passes for 128 yards, leading all receivers.

Offensive Line

It was a bad week for most members of the offensive line, other than Kevin Zeitler (+2.9). Zeitler was the highest graded member of the Bengals' offense due mainly to his run blocking (+2.3). He also received a decent grade in pass blocking (+0.4). Zeitler's passing grade was only surpassed by Andrew Whitworth (+1.4), if that tells you anything about how bad it was most of the day for Andy Dalton in the pocket.

Andre Smith was, by a wide margin, the worst offender on the offensive line. Smith's penalties not only resulted in a Mohamed Sanu touchdown called back, but his poor pass blocking caused Andy Dalton to fumble the ball deep in the Bengals' territory late in the game, allowing the Cardinals to kick a field goal and go up by 10. The three points the Cardinals received from that fumble ended up being the difference in the game. Smith also gave up four quarterback hurries, causing him to be graded very poorly as a pass blocker (-3.7), which is his fifth negatively graded pass blocking performance this year.


In a game where the opposing team scored 34 points, it's hard to find much good to say about the defense. But, certain members of the defensive line played great this week. Geno Atkins received the best grade on the team (+7.5), due to his proficiency at stopping the run (+4.4) but also due to playing fairly well against the pass (+2.9). His two tackles for losses, one sack, and one quarterback hit helped him become the second highest graded NFL player this week, behind only Aaron Donald (+12.5).

Michael Johnson's grade against the run game (+3.3) came in second to Atkins, which was his highest since Week 3 of the 2013 season. Finally, Emmanuel Lamur didn't play a lot (14 snaps), but he played well while he was in the game (+3.0). He recorded a pass defensed, only allowing two completions for nine yards. Throw on that a quarterback hurry and a stop against the run game and Lamur's involvement was something the Bengals would like to see every week.

Domata Peko only recorded a single quarterback hurry and one stop. His overall grade was the second worst on the defensive line (-1.2) ahead of only Brandon Thompson (-1.5). There was also the Bengals' secondary, of which only Josh Shaw (+0.7) and Chris Lewis-Harris (+0.2) recorded positive grades and they each played for a combined 20 snaps. Unfortunately, the young tandem of Dre Kirkpatrick (-4.0) and Darqueze Dennard (-0.4) played far more snaps and played generally poorly. In the process, Dennard suffered a shoulder injury that will require surgery and keep him out for the rest of the season.