Halloween night was certainly terrifying for the Cincinnati Bengals. They’ve fallen to 4-4 on the season and 0-3 in the AFC North after suffering a brutal fifth-straight loss to the Cleveland Browns. Joe Burrow suffered a plethora of hits, and Cincinnati’s playoff chances plummeted dramatically while Cleveland’s odds simultaneously were kept alive.
Predictably, there were many more duds than studs in this one.
Vonn Bell: It doesn’t matter that he was late coming over the top on Amari Cooper’s 53-yard fourth quarter reception, Bell provided the two of the biggest moments for the Bengals. His interception and strip sack kept hope alive in the first half as hope proved to be a nonrenewable resource for the team in stripes.
The Ja’Marr Chase-less game plan: This isn’t so easy, but it’s worth noting. Zac Taylor and his staff had to have known Chase wasn’t going to play early in the week of planning for this game. They knew they would have to change things up to compensate for his absence, and it simply wasn’t enough. Even without Chase, the Browns’ defense has been a liability this year. The Bengals made them look like a juggernaut. That can’t happen, no matter the context.
Jonah Williams: The game plan in question didn’t really have a chance because of how the offensive line played, and my God, what a truly awful game for the left tackle. Offensive lineman are judged by their worst moments in real time. That doesn’t always tell the full picture, but Williams was completely outmatched in too many critical moments. He’s now given up more sacks than any offensive lineman in the league.
The defense’s historic streak: It had to happen at some point, so why not in a lost game? The Bengals allowed not one, not two, but three second-half touchdowns after going seven games without allowing one. It was simply an all-around bad night for Lou Anarumo’s unit, who also lost two cornerbacks in the game.
The whole pass rush: It simply didn’t show up. Aside from Bell’s sack on a zero blitz, Cincinnati couldn’t penetrate Cleveland’s offensive line and gave Jacoby Brissett all the time he needed to pick apart a battered secondary. Trey Hendrickson’s apparent back injury likely factored into this, but any quarterback in the league is going to look good when given clean drop back after clean drop back.
Cam Taylor-Britt: Not a great first start for the rookie. Taylor-Britt allowed the Browns’ first explosive play of the game after being late out of his break and got lost on another big play. The good news he’ll likely get another shot next week with Chidobe Awuzie’s injury making the cornerback room thinner than ever.
Evan McPherson: Nothing was allowed to go right apparently as the usually reliable McPherson missed his lone field goal and his first extra point attempt. Zoinks!