Passing for over 400 yards isn’t always a good thing. In fact, it is usually more about desperation than it is about success.
From the NFL/AFL merger until November of 2014, the last time these stats were compiled, quarterbacks had a record of 105-144-2 in games in which they passed for at least 400 yards.
Sunday afternoon, Andy Dalton recorded the first 400-yard game of his career, finishing the day with 35 completions on 51 attempts for 418 yards and two touchdowns. It marked the third-highest number of attempts in Dalton’s career, and the fifth time he has gone over 50 attempts in a game. All five efforts resulted in a loss.
Dalton also lost a pair of fumbles at crucial junctures, one after Dre Kirkpatrick recovered a Chris Carson fumble and returned it to the Seahawks 28 yard line. The other came with 9 seconds left on the clock and sealed the 21-20 win for Seattle.
“There are opportunities there that we feel like we left out there,” Dalton said in an interview with the Washington Post. “There are going to be things that we’re going to look at and think, ‘man,’ but there were a lot of positives from it. Just got to make the play to win.”
Those opportunities included a missed 43-yard field goal by Randy Bullock that would have provided the winning margin. But that was only a part of the problem. Cincinnati nearly doubled Seattle’s offensive output, out-gaining the Seahawks by a margin of 429-233. The Bengals rolled up 22 first downs to only 12 for Seattle, and held nearly a 12-minute edge in time of possession.
And in the one stat that has proved Cincinnati’s downfall in recent years, the Bengals converted 6-of-15 third downs while holding Seattle to 4-of-12.
Unfortunately, the running game was all but nonexistent. Joe Mixon exited early in the third quarter with an apparent sprained ankle after having produced just 10 yards on six carries. Giovani Bernard did a little better, but still only managed 21 yards on seven carries.
After an offseason in which head coach Zac Taylor continually preached an increased reliance on the run, the Bengals fell back into the same pattern that haunted them in the preseason. Dalton did his best to pick up the slack, but it was not quite good enough.
“We did a lot of good things, from an effort standpoint, the way we fought the whole game,” Dalton said. “Very pleased with everybody and it’s unfortunate that we came out with a loss in this one because there are a lot of good things that happened in this game. But in the end we just didn’t make the play that got us over the top.”