In a game that started ugly and ended even uglier, the Bengals drop their seventh straight game of the season to the Jaguars 27-17. The Bengals’ defense actually performed quite admirably, only to be let down by a totally incapable offense.
Andy Dalton and the offense scored 17 points, while they gave up 18 points off of turnovers. The turnovers crippled both the offense and defense, contributing to the Bengals’ 27-17 loss to the Jaguars.
Gardner Minshew got his first crack at the Bengals defense, and he took advantage of the Bengals’ lack of depth in the secondary. He connected with Dede Westbrook twice for 57 yards and got to the one-yard line. The Jaguars went for it on fourth down, and Preston Brown jumped over the line and stopped Leonard Fournette short of the goal line. The Bengals kept the ball on the one-yard line with 10:39 to go for their first possession.
The Bengals and Jaguars exchanged four punts apiece, but the Jaguars were the first to take advantage of the field position they got. Jacksonville slugged out a couple first downs, and Minshew used his mustache magic to produce a 33-yard third down conversion for the first red zone trip by either team since the game’s opening drive. Fortunately for the Bengals, the defense stood strong and forced a field goal from Josh Lambo. The 21-yard kick was good, and the first points were on the board six and a half minutes before halftime, with the Jaguars up 3-0.
The Bengals started their next drive with only 20 yards of offense when Dalton found Alex Erickson twice for a combined 60 yards. That pushed Erickson to 83 yards on the day, which eclipsed his previous career high be 20 yards. He would add another long catch to get the ball to the one-yard line for a first-and-goal. Andy Dalton to his first pass to a receiver not named Erickson on a short slant to Mixon to give the Bengals their first lead in since their Week 3 game in Buffalo. With Randy Bullock’s extra point, the Bengals were up 7-3 following their first first-half touchdown since the season opener in Seattle.
At the half, the Bengals had a total of 128 yard of offense, with 110 of them going to Erickson and 87 going to Erickson in one drive.
Minshew, not to be outdone, tried to get more points on the board for the Jaguars before the half. He had a 29-yard pass to Chris Conley, and had a 33-yard pass to Westbrook to set up Lambo for a short field goal to give the Jaguars another three points. The 29-yarder was good, and the 7-6 score would hold going into the intermission.
Desperately needing someone else to step up on offense, the Bengals did what they did against the Ravens: throw it up to Auden Tate. He hauled in a 33-yard catch, but self inflicted wounds killed the drive. A chop block on Giovani Bernard backed up the Bengals, and Tyler Boyd coughed up the ball trying to fight for extra yards. After what looked like a turn in the positive direction, the Bengals’ defense was back out near midfield.
The turnover resulted in a 37-yard field goal from Lambo for his 40th straight made field goal, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. With 6:52 remaining in the third quarter, the Bengals conceded their lead, now trailing 9-7.
The Bengals tried to get Boyd the ball later in the game, and he had three catches for 30 yards in one drive. After starting on the nine-yard line, thanks in part to Boyd, they were able to get in field goal range where Bullock knocked through a 38-yard field goal, and the Bengals were back up 10-9 with 31 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The Jaguars came out wanting to answer, and they did with a couple of explosive plays. D.J. Chark broke out a 20-yard reception, and Conley broke out a 47-yard reception. Minshew finished off the drive with his first touchdown of the day, a shallow floater to Keelan Cole. The Jags topped it off with a two point conversion to Conley, with both plays targeting backup cornerback Tony McRae. With 12:41, the Jaguars had taken 17-10 lead.
Looking for an answer, the Bengals found life on a couple third-and-long conversions. Dalton scrambled for 17 yards on one, and he connected for 19 yards on the second. Tate caught a short pass and ran it for 12 yards on a third-and-four, and suddenly the Bengals were in striking range. But Dalton short-armed a pass aimed at Boyd and because it was behind the receiver, Myles Jack caught up to the pass and got the interception.
The Bengals’ self inflicted damage kept stacking up, and Dalton threw his second pick of the game. He threw the ball over the offensive line as if there was a running back there to receive a screen. But instead of a running back, Yannick Ngakoue caught the ball in stride and returned it for a touchdown with 4:10 left in the game. The Jaguars led 21-10 after Lambo’s extra point.
On the next drive, Dalton didn’t even half to wait one play before throwing his next pick, squandering a 61-yard kick return from Brandon Wilson. Targeting Boyd again, Ronnie Harrison hauled in the interception and returned it to the Bengals’ 37-yard line. With Harrison’s pick, Dalton had three interceptions in the fourth quarter in three consecutive drives.
Fournette ran the ball all the way down to the Bengals’ 12-yard line, where Lambo nailed a 26-yard field goal with 1:50 to increase the Jaguars’ lead to 27-10.
The Bengals scored once more during garbage time, letting Dalton sneak it into the end zone with 23 seconds left in the game to cut the deficit to 27-17. They failed to recover the onside kick, so that was all the scoring they could muster. The Jaguars kneeled it out to seal the 27-17 victory.
Cincinnati drops to 0-7 on the year and will travel to London this week to face Zac Taylor’s former team in the Los Angeles Rams.