Last week, we addressed the five keys for the Bengals to leave the west coast with a win on Sunday. To be fair, the Bengals did almost everything right in this game. What we saw was a team that was prepared and executed their gameplan well. Sure, some things could have been better, but for a season opener on the road, this game was a welcomed sight.
I said it was important for the Bengals to come out of the gate sprinting. On paper the Bengals were the better team and if they allowed Oakland to hang around, it could have been a recipe for disaster. The Bengals needed to set the tone early and dictate the pace of the game.
Did it happen?
Cincinnati started the game by kicking to the Raiders. The Bengals forced Oakland to a 3 and out on their first drive and then answered with an 11 play touchdown drive. Andy Dalton was crisp and Jeremy Hill converted a big 4th and 1 as the Bengals opened the game in perfect fashion. The fast start didn't end there as the offense and defense combined to crush Oakland in route to a 33 - 0 lead at one point.
Head coach of the Raiders, Jack Del Rio spoke about his team's performance after the game:
"That's a very disappointing, embarrassing effort"
Eliminate the big plays on offense
The Raiders lost their starting quarterback to a hand injury in the second quarter. However, it did not seem to matter who was slinging the ball for Oakland as the Bengals' defense was ready. The largest play of the game for the Raiders was called back on a holding penalty. The weapons everyone (including myself) feared were rendered useless as the Raiders didn't take a snap in Bengals' territory until the first play of the fourth quarter.
The longest plays from scrimmage for Oakland were:
- 12 yard run
- 24 yard pass
Temper the Mack
While there may have been focus on Khalil Mack for the Raiders, the front of this defense was scary. The Bengals seemed to have no problems with Mack, or the entire Oakland defense. There were only two tackles for loss the entire game and no sacks of Andy Dalton. Mack was held to 4 tackles.
Run the ball
The Bengals running backs combined for 126 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. I had anticipated that most of the running duties would be handled by Jeremy Hill, but Giovani Bernard tied him for yards in the game. We saw Hill get more touches, but both backs had success running the ball. Hill punished the Raiders for two scores though.
Other than a George Iloka foot injury (which looks to be ok), the Bengals came out of the game healthy. Last season we all remember the promise of Tyler Eifert being erased by an ugly arm injury. The Bengals avoided this and look to be at full strength when facing the Chargers next week.
I think I was pretty spot on in my keys and it showed as the Bengals exited Week 1 with the win.