After Marvin Lewis’ worst coached game in as long as I can remember, the Bengals head coach was obviously frustrated after his team fell to the New York Giants by a one point margin.
Lewis’ clock and game management have come under fire after he let the first half of the game slip away without really trying to score on the closing drive of the second quarter. This is nothing new and should even be expected by Bengals fans, but, doesn’t the team and its fans deserve more? A Hail Mary was seemingly the plan from the start of the drive, which doesn’t make much sense when you have the time available to string together a respectable attempt at scoring.
“There was an opportunity there in the football game to win the football game,” Lewis said following the loss. “I look up there, and I think first off, third down, on the two sides of the football – offensively we didn’t do very good today. We didn’t get enough done on third down, and it makes a huge difference.”
Bengals fall to Giants in primetime, 21-20
The Giants gave the Bengals every chance to pull out a win, but Cincinnati couldn’t do it. The Bengals are now 3-5-1 on the season and on the outside looking in.
The Bengals were a pitiful 2 for 11 on third down. That’s almost shockingly bad, especially considering the boost Tyler Eifert is expected to give the offense on third down. You don’t convert 18% of your third down attempts and expect to a win a football game. On the other side of the ball, the Giants converted 43% of their third down attempts and 50% of their fourth down attempts, one of which came in the red zone and resulted in a touchdown. The passive Bengals didn't attempt any fourth down conversions during the game.
“I thought defensively, again, the same thing. They converted some that we can’t let conversions happen. But we played at times together, played right, did things right, but we have opportunities on offense to put more points up,” Lewis said.
It’s interesting that Lewis is defending his defense that allowed the Giants to score the fourth most points of they’ve scored this year. The defense also allowed the Giants' 31st ranked rushing offense, which has averaged 74.2 yards per game, to rush for 122 yards. Lewis had excuses ready for the poor run defense.
“They hit the one run in the fourth quarter, they got down before they scored the touchdown there, then they hit the run at the end of the game,” Lewis said. “You probably had 40 yards on those two plays, but they did give us a few different looks at runs they hadn’t necessarily majored in prior to the game, but I would say that probably two of those, probably 40 of those yards came on those couple plays. Then, the quarterback had a run that was a 10 yard run.”
Manning netted four total rushing yards, and a long of six. So, I'm not sure what Lewis is recalling. On top of that, is he is trying to rationalize the number of rushing yards the Bengals allowed by saying that 40 of the yards came on two plays? I’m not sure if this is news to Lewis, but, those yards matter in the game, regardless of how many plays it takes to achieve them. Rashad Jennings had a 5.8 yard per carry average while rookie running back Paul Perkins had a 3.4 yard per attempt average. I wonder how Lewis wants to rationalize that, considering these are players who had 255 and 102 yards respectively coming into this game and finished the game with 342 and 133 yards on the season respectively. The Bengals certainly have a way of making sub-par players look impressive. Just take Giants tight end Will Tye who had his best game of the season on Monday night and was the Giants' second leading receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr. with 53 yards on 5 receptions.
As for the Bengals’ offense, the recurring issue of red zone inefficiency was again in the spotlight. Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted an Eli Manning pass and brought the ball all the way back to the Giants’ seven yard line, but, the offense was unable to capitalize and scored just three points on the ensuing offensive drive.
“We end up having to kick field goals, and that ended up probably being the difference in the football game,” Lewis said. “If we get touchdowns, especially from the 7-yard line, there’s an opportunity there. Did good things on offense, but not enough, and obviously, we’ve still got to protect the quarterback better all the way through.”
A big reason why the offense is unable to score is because of how unsuccessful the offensive line has been at protecting quarterback Andy Dalton who was sacked three times on Monday night, twice on sacks that saw nearly the entire Giants’ defensive line attacking the quarterback.
Here’s what the Bengals’ offensive line looked like for much of Monday night:
“He got some plays where he got forced out,” Lewis said of Dalton running for his life throughout the game. “Different people, responsibility-wise, they got up the field some on us, so we’ve got to have some things to counteract those things at times.”
This might be Lewis’ most perplexing comment of the postgame press conference. Yes, different people, “responsibility-wise” played a hand in the offensive line collapsing and causing Dalton to have no time to throw. Maybe next week against the Bills and their impressive front seven the Bengals can “counteract those things at time”... maybe.