Fans were just waiting for the Cincinnati Bengals to realize they were losing and to turn the jets on and start playing true Bengals football. It finally happened but with only 2 minutes remaining in the game.
To open the game, the Bengals took the ball first, drove right down the field, threw a 30-yard dime to Trenton Irwin, and then did almost nothing until the fourth quarter.
For a solid two and a half quarters, the Bengals were non-existent. The offense couldn’t gain a first down, and the defense seemed to be playing blind.
Where do we start on offense? Dropped passes? Overthrown passes? Turnovers? Or a nonexistent run game (again)?
Drive after drive, we were stalled for a three-and-out. If we can find any positives, there were about a million “4th and short”. At one point, do they say screw it and go for it on 4th and 3. Let’s say they go for it and they get it. That is a huge momentum swing, and then who knows what the outcome is.
Defensively…wow. If it weren’t for a few forced turnovers, this would’ve been a blowout. CTB came in the clutch once again, allowing the offense a chance to get back in the game.
But, besides those turnovers, the Bengals didn’t know who to cover or where to cover. Normally, you see one of the opponents always open, but on Sunday, three of them were always open…wide open.
The only other positive for the Bengals offensively was Burrow scrambling, extending the play, and finding Chase between two defenders for the touchdown. This was only one of two times (Taylor-Britt interception) where the Bengals could have taken control of the game.
Hats off to the former Buckeye. CJ Stroud channeled his inner Burrow, came into the Queen City, and showed up. He never showed nerves and continued making plays until the final whistle.
Luckily, the Bengals aren’t blind. They are very aware of the impact of the Thursday Night game in Baltimore. A handful of players immediately after the game admitted they played badly and took responsibility, which is a great sign.
"Win or go home, man. (Bleep), I don't want to go home. Gotta go make that happen."— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) November 13, 2023
The #Bengals are back in familiar spot where every game feels like a season-on-the-line game.
This challenge might be their toughest yet. @fox19 pic.twitter.com/ZbCeWpp5fQ
Anarumo said he received a ton of text messages from players following yesterday’s poor performance. Started with DJ Reader only an hour after the game. The willingness to correct is apparent.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) November 13, 2023
“On me to get guys to play better. We’ll do that Thursday.”
They aren’t mathematically out of the playoffs yet, obviously, but that loss didn’t help. If fans thought the Bengals win in San Fran was a statement win, imagine the win in Baltimore.
It’s clear from Sunday the Bengals need to clean some things up, but let’s remember what team we’re talking about: A Bengals team led by Joe Burrow. Anything is possible. But for the second week in a row (well, technically, the second game in a week), Cincinnati is still dealing was some huge injuries.
To be blunt about it, whether fully injured or just banged up, there are Tee Higgins, Sam Hubbard, and Trey Hendrickson, all key players. This is the perfect time for the younger guys to step up and prove themselves. Time for a big game out of Joseph Ossai, Myles Murphy, Yoshi, and maybe Charlie Jones, as well as Trenton Irwin and Tyler Boyd. It would be a huge factor if Mixon had his breakout game of the year.
With a strong offense, especially a run game, the Bengals defense needs to show up and fix the issues from Sunday.
Like most other people are saying, this is essentially a playoff game in November. Two heavyweight teams are going head-to-head. To say it’s a guaranteed win for either team is an overstatement.
Let’s remember when Burrow is an underdog, he can make almost anything happen, and he’s a mastermind.
Let’s also remember what happens when the offense rolls out trick plays and unpredictability. If this Bengals team shows up ready to play, it's going to be a shootout. If the Bengals pull out a primetime road win, this tightens up the AFC North even more, especially after the Browns beat the Ravens (in Baltimore) last week.
Can the Bengals go into Baltimore in primetime and get back on a winning streak? We’ll find out soon enough.