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What we learned from the Bengals’ Week 8 victory over the Colts

It took a fourth quarter pick six from a defensive lineman to outscore the Colts on Sunday. What did we learn from the Bengals’ ever-so-slight victory?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

When your team is fighting to stay alive, you take wins whenever and however you can get them. The Bengals’ win on Sunday was a strange one, but it was a win nonetheless. What did we learn from the Bengals’ one point victory over the Colts?

The offensive line is still bad

Now that we got that one out of the way...

Marvin Lewis is starting Jeremy Hill as a formality

Jeremy Hill only played in the first offensive drive of each half. Because, reasons. He carried the ball four times for a grand total of 11 yards. If you take away his longest run of the game, he would have gained one yard on three carries. Why Marvin Lewis is wasting his time with Hill is beyond me, especially when he has no role in this offense 88 percent of the time they are on the field.

Marvin Lewis doesn’t want John Ross to touch the ball for some reason

The big news of the week was that the speedy rookie John Ross was making his first appearance since Week 2. This turned out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors as Ross only logged six snaps, most of them on run plays. Even on passing plays, Ross never looked like he was actually going to get the ball. Lewis would even go on to say, “he was not part of the plan.”

In my opinion, if your team is 3-4 and your offense is struggling, why not add another weapon into the mix? What’s the worst that could happen? Let Ross go out there for more than six snaps.

In Marvin’s defense, maybe Ross is still healing up. Or maybe he doesn’t want to coach anymore, so he’s pulling an Office Space and is trying to get fired. Either way, he needs to stop dangling Ross in front of us. Get him ready to play and get him on the field.

The Bengals should consider letting the young guys play more

Fans wants to see what Ross does when he finally gets the ball. Ross is only one among a growing list of young players that have shown flashes of playmaking ability.

Let’s start with Alex Erickson. Yes, he muffed a punt that resulted in a Colts’ field goal. But this actually proves how well he can do when things aren’t going well. Erickson put the mistake behind him and didn’t struggle after that. Despite the fumble, he ripped off a 14-yard rush. Again, in a struggling offense, it might not be a bad idea to throw to a player who has more yards per target (12.0) than A.J. Green (8.8).

Josh Malone is another player who proved what he can do. Even though he only had two catches, his 25-yard touchdown was impressive. Andy Dalton was hit as he got the ball off, so the pass was under-thrown. Malone did a great job of going back to the ball and grabbing his first career touchdown. Overall, he did well for only receiving 19 snaps, which was third most behind Green and Brandon LaFell. Given the questionable decisions LaFell made on Sunday, perhaps Malone should vulture some of his playing time.

Finally, the Bengals need to make the most of their second-year cornerback who is buried on the depth chart. William Jackson is a player that has been building hype since training camp. Over the last two weeks, he has had some huge plays against a couple of the NFL’s best receivers. The play that sticks out from this week is a game-saving deflection where T.Y. Hilton initially beat Jackson. But Jackson ran Hilton down in the red zone and kept the ball out of his hands. This, among everything else he has done this season, warrants more paying time. As it is, he only played about half of the defensive snaps on Sunday. He probably would have played less if Dre Kirkpatrick didn’t step off the field for a few plays because of an injury.

The Bengals’ phenomenal pass defense has an Achilles’ heel

The Bengals have only given up 1,282 passing yards, which is third fewest in the NFL (Jacksonville, the Bengals’ Week 9 opponent, ranks second). Cincinnati continued their trend of excellent pass defense by keeping all opposing wide receivers to 57 yards and no touchdowns. Despite the stout defense, most of Indianapolis’ passing went to their big tight end Jack Doyle.

The Indianapolis native caught 12 passes on 14 targets for a total of 122 yards and one touchdown. Doyle’s impact was unmistakable as he made timely catch after timely catch. There’s no doubt that the Colts would have hung with the Bengals for as long as they did without Doyle. Once again, the Bengals’ inability to block tight ends hurt them and Doyle had his best game of the season, by far.

Even though he isn’t exceptionally fast, he is big. He used his frame to box out the safeties and made it nearly impossible for them to defend the ball. The 6’6”, 262-pound target exposed a critical weakness in the Bengals’ secondary. Kyle Rudolph, David Njoku and Eric Ebron could have themselves a day when they go up against the Bengals down the line.