Sunday saw a fitting end to the Bengals’ slim playoff hopes.
A lot of good was overshadowed by too many mistakes, and no matter how close the Bengals got, the team failed to make the one further play that could have been the difference in a 19-14 loss to the Ravens.
Here is a look at our winners and losers from the game, which is more like a stock report, as everyone on the Bengals is a loser after that game.
Flopping aside, Vontaze Burfict had himself a game in Baltimore. He finished with 13 stops (10 solo) and a pair of tackles for loss. He was a big reason why the Ravens’ running backs rushed for just 97 yards on 26 carries (3.7 average).
Burfict has looked great in three straight games now after a slow start to the year. He’s been one of the few bright spots on a defense that has struggled throughout the season. You know Burfict will never give up and that’s what this Bengals defense needs, players who care.
The Bengals’ secondary came into this matchup depleted, and it only got worse as the game wore on. That’s why it was critical for the defensive line to step up, and Carlos Dunlap answered the call. He finished with a sack, two pass deflections, three tackles, and one QB hit in addition to several more pressures.
That helped the Bengals limit Joe Flacco to just 234 yards passing on 36 passing attempts. Dunlap is now sitting at 6.5 sacks going into the final five games, so he’s got a good shot at getting to double digits for a second-straight season.
The Bengals are now 3-7-1, while the Ravens and Steelers are both 6-5. Cincinnati is not mathematically eliminated, but the team has no realistic shot of making the playoffs. They’d need to win three or more of their final six games and have the Steelers and Ravens both lose out.
That’s not happening, and is even more true because the Bengals don’t look capable of winning three of their remaining games.
The Bengals’ biggest downgrade from last year undoubtedly is at right tackle. Cedric Ogbuehi’s play alone has cost the Bengals in multiple games this season, the latest being in Baltimore.
While the loss can’t be pinned on Ogbuehi, his mistakes prevented a comeback from being possible. He allowed two strip sacks in the game and was repeatedly beaten badly, allowing Andy Dalton to be under siege throughout the game. He was benched for Eric Winston during parts of the game, but Winston also played poorly in this contest.
Even if it was just for a brief time, the Bengals did the unthinkable and put Russell Bodine on the bench where he belongs. In the second half, Bodine was sent to the bench in the middle of the third quarter and was replaced by T.J. Johnson.
Bodine didn’t have an injury. He was just flat-out benched, which is what should happen when you’re among the league’s worst centers.
Bodine was also responsible for an early snap when nobody was ready, which Andy Dalton fumbled and post to Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil, in his first game back after six weeks spent out due to injury.
Sure, Bodine is not the only problem with this team, but he’s a big part of it. Even though it’s hard to see Johnson being any real upgrade here, it’s still time to see what he and others can do at center.
It’s worth noting that the Bengals trailed 16-3 with Bodine at center, only to go right down the field for a touchdown on the first series during which Johnson took over, but the Bengals still put Bodine back in and lost 19-14 (2 of the Bengals’ points came from a game-ending safety).
Fitting, if you ask me.
Even in his 14th season with the Bengals, Marvin Lewis continues to look dumbfounded and lost in far too many situations. Between the timeout in the first half that allowed Baltimore to challenge a spot (which they won), not pushing the Ravens back on a holding call on third-down to push them out of field-goal-range, or the decision to punt at the Baltimore 37-yard line on fourth down, Lewis had far too many errors and no NFL coach should slip up that much in one game.
It’s time for Lewis to go.
Nugent did something that no NFL kicker has done since 1991. He missed three straight point after the touchdown kicks. Two of those missed extra points came in the Bengals’ Week 11 loss to the Bills, the third came on Sunday against the Ravens.
We're at the point where Nugent simply must go. He is a liability to keep on the roster.