After a pair of tough losses and some close wins that caused a lot of stress inside and out of Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals finally looked to be in control of a game this weekend. That is of course until the Buccaneers found a bit of magic offensively. A bit of Fitz-magic.
After rookie safety Jessie Bates returned Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston’s fourth interception for a touchdown, the visiting team benched him in favor of former Bengal and Harvard Crimson (anyone’s guess which he brings up more often at dinner parties) Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Buccaneers offense took off and quickly cut down the Bengals 18-point lead. Although the Bengals held on for the win, the defensive play has been alarming to say the least. “We’ve got to be truthful about the situation,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said post game. “We gave up 500 yards. It’s a win, but it’s not a great win.” When asked about giving up this kind of yardage in two straight weeks Kirkpatrick said, “It’s something we’ve got to fix.”
Yards don’t determine winners and losers in the NFL. Unfortunately the Bengals have given up too many points defensively as well. They rank near the bottom of the league in this statistic and have given up 29 points per game. The differentiating factor early in the game was turnovers. The Buccaneers were able to get movement on the Bengals early in the game, but it was the turnovers that kept them mostly off the scoreboard. Winston was all over the place and a created a lot of turnover opportunities for the Bengals. Fitzpatrick’s magic was simply not being careless with the football.
The Bengals go into their by week with an obvious area that needs to be improved upon and Kirkpatrick knows it. “Today was a ‘Whew.’ One of those games. But it ain’t pretty. I didn’t like it. I’m not satisfied with it. At the end of the day, we can do better. I know we can.”
Kirkpatrick has his head high, but knows the unit has a lot of work to do before they play the NFL’s all-time leading passer Drew Brees and the Saints in two weeks. “I wasn’t pleased with how we played in the second half and gave up (500) yards. But at the end of the day, that’s my game (to be positive). That’s how I approach it. I try to flush everything out and reset every week. No matter what the outcome was this week, I’m going to be the same person next week.”