It truly is difficult finding positive things to say about the Cincinnati Bengals. 29 games into the post-Marvin Lewis era, this franchise has proven capable of looking embarrassed against good and bad teams.
Here are the winners and losers from the Bengals’ 30-7 defeat to Andy Dalton and the Cowboys.
Jessie Bates III: Another week, another carry job by Bates. On the second-half kickoff, Bates prevented a Tony Pollard touchdown on special teams and followed it with a near interception and sack on Dalton later in the half. His case for being not only a Pro Bowl safety, but an All-Pro safety, gets stronger every single week.
A.J. Green: At the conclusion of the first half, Green had exactly as many receptions (four), yards (41), and touchdowns (1) as he had in the previous three weeks. Green hauled in two more catches and finished the game with 62 yards.
Brandon Allen: Let’s be clear: Allen was not exactly lighting the world on fire and the Cowboys’ defense is simply not good, but Allen deserves credit for at least being efficient throughout the day. Early in the fourth quarter, Allen was clearing limping and favoring his right leg after taking a couple hits, but he still managed to stay in the game and keep the offense afloat up until that fourth down throwaway. Toughness needs the spotlight sometimes, even though Ryan Finley probably should’ve came in the game a bit earlier.
Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, and Alex Erickson: The offense’s first two drives featured four first downs and two fumbles. First, Bernard put the ball on the ground as a rusher for the first time since he was a rookie. On the ensuing drive, Williams came in for Bernard and created what shall forever be known as Butt Fumble 2.0, and that fumble was returned for a touchdown. It was the first time two Bengals running backs have fumbled in the same game since 1994. Williams ended up having a solid game overall, but that fumble-six was devastating.
On the third drive, the Bengals were a fourth-and-one conversion away from entering the red zone and it was Erickson’s turn to lose the ball and the offense’s third drive of the ended in a third fumble. The last team to do this was the New England Patriots in an overtime victory over the Denver Broncos in 2013. The Bengals weren’t so fortunate as the 17 points the Cowboys scored off the trio of fumbles helped them drop the Bengals to 2-10-1.
Hakeem Adeniji: The butt that was featured on Butt Fumble 2.0 was Adeniji’s butt, and his butt found the bench right after that as Fred Johnson came in for Adeniji at left tackle. We did not hear anything about Adeniji getting hurt on the play, so the assumption is that he was benched.
Mackensie Alexander: Alexander suffered a knee injury in practice this week, and he didn’t look 100% out there. The Bengals’ slot cornerback allowed multiple third down conversions in coverage on the Cowboys’ first offensive scoring drive. He was also called for defensive holding on a big pass late in the fourth quarter.
Zac Taylor: No one is saying his job has been easy, but goodness gracious, when the quarterback is limping out there and clearly can’t put any strength in his throws, get him out of there. Taylor was frustrated at the first-half fumbles stopping promising drives, yet the offense failed to score a single point in the third quarter for the seventh time in nine weeks. Even when the world is throwing everything it has at the Bengals’ head coach, he fails to make the right decisions that everyone else can see.