When I went back and read the 5 keys to a Bengals victory post from last week, I wanted to pick apart some of my thoughts. In the Raiders game, the Bengals were dominant to the point that it didn't really matter what the keys were, everything worked. The Chargers game was a different animal. Cincinnati didn't coast to an easy victory and could have lost that football game. So, was I close in my pre-game assessment?
Pressure Philip Rivers
The Bengals gave Rivers all he could handle in terms of pressure. The Bengals finished the day with four sacks and collapsed the pocket around Rivers all day. This caused the quarterback to force throws and miss on some balls that he couldn't step in to. As hot as Rivers was coming into this game (20 straight completions and 400 yds last game), the Bengals made him uncomfortable and disrupted his passing game.
No lock on Offense
Andy Dalton completed touchdowns to A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert. Eight different players caught passes including rookie lineman Jake Fisher. No one player caught more than four passes. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback did an excellent job of distributing the football, checking down and not making mistakes. By not forcing the football to any particular player, he was able to keep the Chargers guessing and the Bengals were successful because of it.
Run the football
The Bengals combine for 175 yds rushing on the day. Running the football was a big part of what the team needed to do to come away with the win. Giovani Bernard stepped up huge when he was relied on to carry the load for the team. He became the bell cow back for Cincinnati and made people miss in the open field. Being able to rely on a backup like him when Jeremy Hill was struggling was key to the win.
This is a miss. The Bengals did have two turnovers. Jeremy Hill was benched for his inability to hold onto the football. Had the Bengals lost, this would be the reason. (Although I am sure there are a few of you that would point the finger at Dalton anyway) What countered this was the fact that the Chargers also had turnovers that the Bengals were able to capitalize on.
Play solid corner
I love watching the player that Dre Kirkpatrick is becoming. Beyond his coverage, the one thing that stands out is his speed. He flies around the field and has saved the Bengals a few times in making tackles on players that probably would have scored without his effort. I also remember the play of Leon Hall, when needed he stepped up and played solid defense for Cincinnati. Except for the miscommunication and breakdown on the Malcom Floyd touchdown, the secondary had a good day.