The Bengals lost a game in Denver that I thought was a win. The two halves in Denver could not have been more opposite for Cincinnati. So, did the Bengals follow our five keys to victory and just come up short? Let's take a look.
Stop the run
The Bengals were very close to accomplishing this. After starting the game with two very long drives that put the Broncos in a 14 - 0 hole, the Bengals essentially made them one dimensional. Denver only ran the ball 18 times in the game. However, one of those runs was huge. C.J. Anderson took a handoff to the left and found room for a 39 yard touchdown run. If this run was removed from the equation (that would be nice, right?) the Bengals would have held the Broncos to 69 yards rushing on the night.
Make Brock beat you
The game saw no interceptions and the Bengals made the inexperienced quarterback in Denver attempt 39 passes. In the first half, Cincinnati defended them well. In the second, the Broncos receivers made some outstanding plays that allowed Denver to come back and eventually win the game.
Brock Osweiler had almost 300 yards passing and most of that was in the second half. Did the Bengals defense tire out? Were there better adjustments from the Denver sideline? Who knows, but the issues the Bengals had in shutting down the Denver passing game are what ultimately lost this game.
Take what the defense gives you
This game could not have started any better. The Bengals took the opening kickoff and held the ball for seven and a half minutes. They marched 80 yards and scored. They then scored again to put the Broncos in a two touchdown hole. The offense clicked and looked to exploit a defense that was allowing the outside receivers to play against single coverage.
The problem was when the Broncos' defense adjusted, the Bengals' offense did not.
Run the ball
Once again we saw an overall lackluster performance from the running game. Sure, there were times early when Jeremy Hill was moving the ball in the rushing attack, but once Denver knew the Bengals were protecting instead of attacking, the run game stalled.
As this season winds down, the major thing the Bengals lack (other than a healthy quarterback) is a run game that can carry the offense. We have not seen it against good or bad teams and it may be a major detriment to this team in the postseason.
Weather the storm
Nailed it. The Bengals not only limited Denver's first half offense, they brought some fire of their own. This game could not have started any better for a Bengals team fighting for a bye on the road. Cincinnati just failed to finish it.
What did you think? Did this game turn out how you expected? How did the Bengals falter in your eyes? Sure, there will be fingers pointed at the AJ McCarron fumble, or the adjustments by the coaching staff. And, some of you will find a way to continue to poke at Andy Dalton somehow (yeah, I see you in the comments section) but in this game, what sealed the deal for the Bengals?