The Cincinnati Bengals were coming off of their bye week looking to prove the nay-sayers wrong about their enigmatic 5-3 record. Unfortunately, as has been the case against the better NFL teams this year, Cincinnati fell on its face. Making it worse was that it came in front of a home crowd.
In the 37-point loss, their biggest of the season, the Bengals have a lot of fingers to point for blame. Here are our winners and losers following the Bengals’ Week 10 loss to the Saints.
John Ross: Cincinnati needed some guys to step up with A.J. Green out and it was great timing for the team to get Ross back from a lingering groin injury. Cincinnati’s defense out the team in an early hole, but the offense responded on their first drive.
Ironically, Ross has been a bit more of a short-yardage red zone guy than what his scouting report showed coming into the draft. Ross scored his third touchdown of the year on a two-yard floater from Andy Dalton. He added another big 37-yard pass from Jeff Driskel, finishing with 39 yards on two catches, including the score. Unfortunately, Ross may have gotten injured AGAIN in the loss. But, at least he had the score. Right?!
Joe Mixon: Even though most of the offense struggled on Sunday, Mixon ran well. Unfortunately, because of the lopsided score, he only had 11 carries on the day.
With the game out of hand, Mixon was still seen running hard and picking up chunk yardage, though. He finished with 11 rushes for 61 yards and a 5.5 yards per carry average.
Jeff Driskel: The backup quarterback came in relief of Andy Dalton in the blowout and played well. Early in the contest, he had a first down run, but added a nice bomb to Ross in the fourth quarter. He rushed for a late touchdown as well, showing his athleticism and making the loss a little less embarrassing.
The secondary: In the first half, Jackson allowed a touchdown catch to Michael Thomas, while Kirkpatrick was familiarly flagged for an interference penalty on Thomas. We also witnessed some poor play and effort from the safeties.
These guys were far from the only problems on the afternoon, but they put forth another interception-less performance when that was one of the keys for the Bengals to have a chance in this contest.
Teryl Austin: Another week, another abhorrent performance from Austin’s unit. We knew that this one would be incredibly difficult against the high-flying Saints offense, but their output was downright pathetic. Cincinnati’s 2018 defense has now broken a record for the most yards allowed by an NFL defense over four consecutive games.
Aside from effort looking to be lacking at times, tackling continued to be awful, and mass confusion was once again prevalent from the back seven of the defense. Zero sacks of Drew Brees, zero turnovers forced, a 7-for-7 start of conversions on third down and incredibly poor body language all around were the themes of the day.
So, the big questions are how long will Austin remain as the team’s defensive coordinator and who would even step up to replace him?
Matt Lengel: Is it possible for one five-yard penalty to completely change the complexion of a game? If so, Lengel’s false start on a 4th-and-1 with the game at 14-7 was the catalyst.
Regardless of the lack of depth at the tight end position and if Lengel truly has the talent to be deserving of being on an active roster, this is an unacceptable mental mistake. It’s especially frustrating that this crucial penalty happened on the home turf.
Marvin Lewis: “I don’t have time to be frustrated, I have to coach”. This was the long-tenured head coach’s words to FOX’s Pam Oliver at halftime. Tremendously inspiring words, coach.
Once again, Cincinnati fell on its face coming out of a bye. This is a theme in the Lewis era, as they now fall to 5-10-1 after the debacle against New Orleans. Furthermore, in four games to really gauge the viability of the team (Carolina, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, New Orleans), Cincinnati is 0-4 and has a minus-89 point differential (an average of 22.25 per game) in these important contests.
The biggest indictment of Lewis and his coaching staff, though? The looks of deflation, as well as the lack of effort and putting up a fight against a playoff team.
Andy Dalton: Even though his best target was out of the lineup, folks thought that Dalton would still be able to move the ball and put points up on the beleaguered Saints passing defense. Instead, he threw two egregious interceptions and missed an easy third down completion to Ross.
In fairness to Dalton, his targets had trouble getting open at times and the protection wasn’t the best. Still, Mixon created manageable opportunities for the offense with his running, so Dalton should have been sharper.
Bill Lazor: Cincinnati’s offense started off with two solid drives. Unfortunately, the Lengel penalty stalled the second one, but the Bengals seemed to have started with a solid game plan.
But, as has been the case throughout the season, once the team fell into a deep hole and was forced to go off of their script, the offense completely fell apart. The starting offense with their starting quarterback only mustered seven points against the 31st-ranked passing defense.
Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap: Cincinnati rightfully invested big money into their two great defensive players this offseason and they both got off to solid starts to the season. Unfortunately, they haven’t showed up in some of the biggest games of the season.
Sunday against New Orleans was no exception, as they didn’t have a notable statistic to aid the team. Could the afternoon have been any easier for Brees?
Bengals fans: There are a lot of facets to this, so stick with me here. From an officiating standpoint, the officials missed a helmet-to-helmet hit on a sack of Dalton, as well as a roughing the punter call. Was Michael Thomas’ first touchdown truly a reception? We’re still trying to figure out what a catch is in the NFL.
Even with the plethora of missed calls and the injuries, Cincinnati wasn’t winning this game. The squad looked as if they taken the week-long chatter of how they were going to get housed to heart and didn’t even put up a fight.
I feel sorry for Cincinnati fans who spent good money on tickets to watch this pathetic effort in person. And, unfortunately, these types of performances against quality opponents tell everyone just how far away the Bengals are from being true contenders this year.