Things were going well for the Bengals at the beginning of their Week 15 matchup with the Patriots, but mistakes soon snowballed and the game got out of hand. Loss No. 13 on the year for Cincinnati featured a second half meltdown that further proved a sobering fact about one side of the ball.
The Bengals’ offense struggled to recover from penalties which ended many drives. They also failed to rebound from the momentum swing caused by turnovers and in the end it was turnovers and that put this game out of reach.
Here is a breakdown of the Bengals offensive turnovers and penalties and how they responded.
The Bengals turned the ball over five times against the Patriots. That makes it nearly impossible to win, but to make matters worse the offense failed to respond on their next possession.
The first turnover came on special teams when Alex Erickson muffed a punt. The defense responded well. They held the Patriots offense and even pushed them back with a Carlos Dunlap sack on 3rd down. Unfortunately, the Patriots were still able to get 3 easy points off of the drive.
The offense did not have a chance to respond before half time.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw his first interception in the third quarter. This time, the Bengals defense was not able to hold and gave up a touchdown.
The offense came out and turned the ball over again on the next drive. This time Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore took the interception back for a touchdown,
The offense went three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
After the Bengals third interception, the defense once again held and eventually forced a punt. The offense was able to put a drive together on their next series but came away with only a field goal.
The Bengals did not get the ball back after Dalton’s final pick.
Earlier in the game the Bengals turned the ball over on downs. The defense had stopped the Patriots on fourth-and-one on their previous possession and the Bengals decided to give it a try on a fourth-and-one of their own.
Unfortunately, the Bengals were not successful. This swung the momentum that they had gained by stopping the Patriots on fourth down right back in New England’s direction.
The Patriots moved the ball, but were held to a field goal. When the Bengals got the ball back, they went three-and-out.
The first penalty of the game was a false start on tight end Cethan Carter called on the Bengals second drive. The team had driven down into the red zone and faced second-and-eight before the penalty pushed them back to second-and-13. A four-yard run and an incomplete pass later, they were forced to settle for a field goal.
In the thirrd quarter, John Miller was called for ineligible man down field moving the Bengals from first-and-10 to first-and-15. A play later Dalton through a pick-six.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Bengals were trailing by 17 and driving down the field, but the drive was stalled by a delay of game penalty.
This is inexplicable given that the Bengals were under a time constraint. It led to first-and-15, and a couple incomplete passes later they kicked another field goal. This was essentially game-over for the Bengals, who not only failed to recover their onside-kick, the kick didn’t even go past the 10-yard minimum.
One of the keys to winning games is playing mistake-free football. That means avoiding assignment errors, penalties, and especially turnovers.
Obviously it is hard to win a game when you commit five turnovers that lead to 17 points. When an offense does make a mistake, they need to be able to recover and make up for it on the next drive.
Penalties will happen, but they can’t derail drives. The Bengals ran the ball effectively, but struggled greatly in the passing game. Penalties forced them into long yardage situations which forced them to pass.
They need to be more effective passing the ball in order to make up yardage when they get caught behind the downs.
The defense is not flawless. They still have assignment errors and give up big plays, but they are better at fighting through tough situations than the offense is. The defense only allowed one touchdown and one field goal after the five turnovers and given the field position, the field goal was actually a win.
The offense needs to develop a passing game that can win in long yardage situations and they need to learn to overcome adversity on the drives following turnovers.
While a change at the quarterback may help with the first issue, the Bengals offense should be learning resiliency already.