This was certainly a step forward from the debacle we saw last week in Dallas, but it still ended in a painful defeat that leaves Cincinnati at 2-4 heading into its Week 7 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
Here is a look at the winners and losers from this game.
Andy Dalton has been playing great this season, and that continued in New England with a hot start to the game. Dalton opened the game completing his first 10 passes and 13 of 14 while leading the Bengals to leads of 7-3 and 14-10.
He finished the game 21-of-31 passing with 254 yards and one score with 17 yards rushing and another score on two carries.
As much as the offense is struggling, Dalton is doing everything in his power to carry the unit.
The Bengals once again went to Giovani Bernard as the starting running back, and he responded with another good game. Bernard finished in New England with 49 yards rushing on 15 carries while catching four passes for 45 yards, marking the fourth time this season he’s topped 90 all-purpose yards.
It also gives him 99 yards on 24 rushes with 91 yards receiving on 10 catches over the past two games. It’s clear Bernard is the better back for this offense right now, so expect him to keep starting while Jeremy Hill works through his chest injury.
The offensive struggles have been due in part to not having a clear-cut slot receiver to help take pressure off of A.J. Green, but Tyler Boyd is slowly working into that role.
Boyd came up with several big catches in New England, including an acrobatic grab in traffic to set up a field goal.
In fact, the Bengals got into the red zone on every drive in which Boyd caught a pass, and they drove into New England territory on the another drive in which he caught a pass. That really speaks to how much the Bengals’ offense needs another receiver to step up, and how big of an impact Boyd can make if he does.
The Bengals finally saw enough from their embattled right tackle. Ogbuehi was benched in the third quarter after a bad holding call on him backed Cincinnati up to their own goal line. The very next play saw Andy Dalton sacked for a safety off a blitz up the middle, and that effectively was the ballgame for this one.
Ogbuehi hold led to safety— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) October 16, 2016
Dre penalty led to TD
Jones penalty led to FG#Bengals
Veteran lineman Eric Winston, who has been working as a backup guard and tackle this season, came in for Ogbuehi. This is bad news for Ogbuehi going forward. He may have a bright future ahead of him, but he’s making too many mistakes for the Bengals to keep starting him.
You can no longer deny that the Bengals are in a downward spiral, which really began last season. After starting 8-0 in 2015, the Bengals have since gone 6-9 (including the playoffs).
Marvin Lewis built this franchise into a winner, but there’s no question they’re in a slump that has him inching towards the hot seat, though he’s still a ways away from actually being on it.
This team clearly has the talent to win, or at least stay within one score of a team even as good as New England, but Lewis’ Bengals continue to make too many mistakes and miss on too many easy plays to beat any halfway decent team.
Russell Bodine has had his share of issues through his first three seasons, but durability hasn’t been among them. Bodine has not missed an NFL game since he entered the league in 2014, but went down with a right leg injury in the third quarter of this game and was carted off the field.
It didn’t look good for Bodine, who could be set to miss time for the first time in his NFL career. T.J. Johnson, the Bengals’ backup center entered the game to start the fourth quarter with the Bengals trailing 25-14.
You never want to see anyone get hurt, and you also can't help but see the irony of the Bengals being so quick to bench Ogbuehi, and then have Bodine, who they stuck with even when he was playing far below par, get hurt soon after.