For the second week in a row, the Bengals survived against a tough opponent to tack on another win to their early season record. This week, it was the Baltimore Ravens who fell victim to the Bengals' high octane passing attack and staunch defensive pressure. With the win, the Bengals move to 3-0 on the season and record their first win against a division oppoenent, allowing them to sit comfortably atop the AFC North and enjoy the early advantage.
Quite a few players for the Bengals played very well this week. Some of the best include Andy Dalon (+5.8), Michael Johnson (+4.3), A.J. Green (+2.8), Andrew Whitworth (+2.8), Geno Atkins (+2.6) and Adam Jones (+2.6).
Unfortunately, it wasn't all good. Some of the Bengals' less impressive players this week played a strong part in the team's inability to put the Ravens away, despite a comfortable 14-0 lead at the half. Some of the worst players this week included Russell Bodine (-8.3), Andre Smith (-6.6), Tyler Eifert (-5.7), Emmanuel Lamur (-3.9) and Dre Kirkpatrick (-3.4).
Andy Dalton has been absolutely playing out of his mind lately. A touchdown to interception ratio of 8:1 pretty much says it all, and he really showed how great he can be against the Ravens. Dalton's received a very high grade in the passing game alone (+5.6), and his overall grade (+5.8) is good for the third best score by a quarterback in the NFL in Week 3.
It's also great to see A.J. Green (+2.8) playing at the top of his game. According to PFF, of all deep pass catchers in the NFL (passes over 20 yards), A.J. Green scored the highest, catching all three of his targets for 158 yards and a touchdown.
While Green struggled early with fighting for balls and being in position, he got things going eventually in the second half just in time to join Steve Smith Sr. for one of the most incredible wide receiver battles that we've seen in quite a while as the two players did everything they could to answer the other and give their team the advantage. Although Smith received the most attention, largely due to his comments on the sideline, it was Green who came out the winner both in terms of stats and the final score.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for Tyler Eifert, who received an extremely poor score for his efforts (-5.7). This was mostly a result of his pass blocking (-1.5) and run blocking (-1.8) grades, but his score in the receiving grade also left much to be desired (-1.6). Eifert's two most glaring miscues came on a dropped pass (that was thrown right to him) and a false start penalty. Other than that, very little was seen of the star tight end.
Once again, Jeremy Hill (-1.5) looked less than stellar. Against the Ravens, he was only able to record 1.8 yards per carry. Giovani Bernard (+0.3) didn't fare much better in Baltimore, but his 3.8 yards per carry looks great next to Hill's meager number. That said, no one fumbled, so that's a positive thing to take away, right?
If there was any excitement to be had from the running game, it came from Andy Dalton. Despite being sacked twice, Dalton received a positive score in the running game (+0.6) as a result of picking up 21 yards on three carries and a touchdown. Those two sacks for -11 yards total hurt his running stats quite a bit, but you can still see just how much the Bengals' success this week was a result of Dalton's play.
After a fantastic performance from just about everyone on the offensive line against the Chargers,the unit was much less effective in Baltimore. Of the five starting offensive linemen, Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft (-0.8), and substitute Jake Fisher (-0.4) only Andrew Whitworth received a positive grade (+2.9). Along with Fisher (0.0), Whitworth was also the only traditional blocker to avoid a negative grade as a run blocker.
With such a poor effort from the offensive linemen blocking for the run, it's no wonder that Jeremy Hill couldn't get anything going at all, and that Giovani Bernard was much more effective as a pass catcher (11.3 yards per catch). This week was also the first week that Andy Dalton had been sacked by the opposing defense's pass rush since the 2014 season. Eifert (-1.5), Bodine (-1.9) and Andre Smith (-6.3) all scored extremely poorly as pass blockers this past week.
Eifert was responsible for one of the two sacks on Dalton this week, which was the one that resulted in the fumble recovery for a touchdown. Had that call not been overturned and the Bengals lost the game,he would be seen as the player most responsible for this week's loss. The goat of the week, if you will.
After three weeks, Carlos Dunlap (+1.7) is the sixth most highly graded 4-3 DE by PFF. That said, it helps that the rest of the defensive line is playing well around him. One of the Bengals' biggest problems with the defensive line last year was the fact that Dunlap was the only legitimate threat with Geno Atkins struggling to return to form and Michael Johnson in Tampa Bay.
Speaking of Michael Johnson, his four QB hurries and one QB hit helped him to receive the second highest grade on the team (+4.8). That is a significant improvement from last week, when he struggled rushing the pass (-1.2) and only managing to be effective against the run. He was good against the run this week (+1.8), but it was his effort rushing the pass that helped him make his mark this week (+2.8).
Unfortunately, it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Bengals' defense. Rey Maualuga (+1.5) had a pretty good game, but he was the only linebacker to really play well. In particular, Emmanuel Lamur (-3.9) was extremely inefficient in the passing game, missing multiple tackling opportunities on only 30 snaps. Furthermore, Kirkpatrick (-3.6) proved to be no match for Steve Smith who went off for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the air. One of those touchdowns was a blown assignment from Kirkpatrick.