Tampa Bay didn't play much better in terms of execution and discipline (14 penalties), but they played with a high level of effort and preparedness, which the Bengals simply did not match. That's what decided the game, and the regular season will offer similar results if the type of lack of effort happens again during the regular season.
The good news is the Bengals know they were complacent and didn't approach the game the way they should have, as Jeremy Hill told Bengals.com.
"I think we were kind of complacent out there," Hill said. "After playing the way we did against the Giants, I think we just thought it would happen and you can’t do that. You have to go out there with the same intensity and the same respect you have for every opponent."
Adding to that, Hill told the Cincinnati Enquirer he's glad what happened on Monday came to pass, as it gave the Bengals a much-needed wake-up call.
"I'm glad it happened," Hill said. "It kind of put it in perspective. We were getting praise, especially after the Giants game. It put it perspective that we still have a lot of work to do."
Having a bad game in the preseason happens. Cincinnati need not look further than the other two perennial playoff teams within the division. Last week, Baltimore was shellacked in what looked like an ever worse effort as they lost to Philadelphia 40-17.
Going back to last year, Pittsburgh lost to Philly as well in a preseason game in which they trailed 31-7 going into the fourth quarter and ended up losing 31-21. That was actually their third preseason game, which is almost always used as the dress-rehearsal game for teams, yet they bounced back from it to go 11-5 and win the AFC North.
Needless to say, Monday's debacle won't determine what the Bengals do this year. Let's just hope they look a little better on Saturday against the Bears.