clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Week 8 Redskins vs Bengals: The Good, the bad and the ugly

The Bengals left London with an unsatisfied feeling, as the team tied with the Redskins in Week 8. Here are the best and worst aspects of the contest as Cincinnati heads into its bye.

Washington Redskins v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals left England with a familiar feeling of dissatisfaction. For the third time in his NFL head coaching career, Marvin Lewis’ team ended a contest in a tie. Cincinnati heads home with a disappointing 3-4-1 record going into the bye week, and, to be blunt, the team has a lot of work to do if it wants to make the postseason for the sixth straight season.

Here are the best and worst aspects for Cincinnati from the Week 8 tie with the Redskins.

The Good:

Tyler Eifert: In his second game back this year, the Bengals’ tight end appeared to be back to last year’s Pro Bowl status. He made a number of tough catches, be it in traffic or hauling in a high throw in the end zone. It’s no coincidence that Cincinnati has scored the most points of the season in the past two games since his return. Eifert finished the day with nine catches for 102 yards and a touchdown reception.

A.J. Green dominates Josh Norman: The Redskins’ corner is a great one and though the Fox broadcasters gushed over his abilities, Green took it to Norman. Green finished with nine catches for 121 yards, including a 40-yard bomb as he beat the Pro Bowl defensive back. Norman did have tight coverage often times, but he also had an incredible four illegal use of hands to the face penalties on Green and dropped two possible interceptions. Unfortunately, instead of tipping the cap to Green, Norman decided to trash-talk the officials after the game.

The Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard duo: The Bengals’ running game finally seems to be getting back on track. After Hill and Bernard torched the Browns for 248 rushing yards and a touchdown each last week, they followed it up with another solid performance in London. Hill had 76 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Bernard had 52 on 11 carries and a touchdown run of his own. Getting that balance on offense is a much-needed aspect with new receiving weapons still acclimated to things. Also, if you re-watch the game, note Bernard’s excellent pass-blocking on the day.

Offensive efficiency rates: Cincinnati’s offense has struggled in the red zone and on third down this year, but it was excellent in those areas on Sunday. The Bengals were 4-for-4 in red zone efficiency, including 2-for-2 in goal-to-go situations. Additionally, they had a 53% efficiency rate on third down, converting on 8 of 15 tries.

Alex Erickson’s 65-yard kickoff return: After the Redskins marched to a touchdown on a 15-play opening drive, Erickson finally provided a special teams spark that the team has been missing all season. The blocking was superb and Erickson channeled his preseason form about 40 yards into the return as he weaved away from would-be tacklers for 25 more yards. It set up a tying touchdown drive by the offense.

Geno Atkins: The Pro Bowl defensive tackle has been a bit more inconsistent in 2016 than he was last year, but he was the only player making noise up front. He had a sack, two tackles, two quarterback hits and six hurries on the day. Unfortunately, part of the reason for his inconsistency is the lack of help he has received from some of his line mates.

The Bad:

Pass blocking by the line: Bernard may have been the most solid pass blocker on the day for the Bengals. The line struggles continued, as the Redskins racked up three sacks in London. That makes 25 through eight games and every player up front is culpable. Because of the issues, Bernard was asked to help with blitzing players, disallowing him to contribute as a receiver where he also excels (just one catch for 14 yards on Sunday).

The defensive line: If the offensive line and secondary have been two of the biggest disappointments for the Bengals this year, then the defensive line isn’t far behind. Atkins had a good day, but the rest of the line under-performed greatly. Carlos Dunlap didn’t get to Kirk Cousins, Domata Peko had four tackles, but none were greatly impactful, while Michael Johnson might has well not have even been in the lineup (one tackle). In fact, Johnson’s disappearing act this year has been so glaring that he is ranked as the 53rd 4-3 defensive end out of 54 players by Pro Football Focus’ metrics.

Shades of “Bad Andy” return: Andy Dalton made a share of plays on Sunday, including a touchdown pass, a sprint into the end zone for a score and a nifty 14-yard scramble, but poor plays were prevalent. Pressure given up by the line didn’t help matters, but two inexplicable turnovers in the fourth quarter and overtime rallied the national critics.

Seeming to channel his inner-Philip Rivers, Dalton shot-put a throw toward Eifert that was intercepted by Will Compton while the Bengals were at the Redskins’ 20-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter. Then, late in overtime, a quarterback sneak was dialed up at the Bengals’ 46-yard line on a third and one. Dalton didn’t take care of the ball and the fumble ultimately led to the tie.

The Ugly:

Pass defense: The Bengals invested heavily in the secondary this offseason, giving new contracts to Adam Jones, Shawn Williams and George Iloka, as well as using their first round pick on cornerback William Jackson III. Blame isn’t just on the three veterans, but Cousins recording the second-most passing yards in Redskins history with 458 along with two touchdowns is inexcusable.

Along with issues in the secondary, the Bengals tried to remedy the pass defense by bringing in the rangy Karlos Dansby in free agency. Though he leads the team in tackles, he’s been more of a chase-and-tackle player, rather than a playmaker and both Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict have their limitations in pass defense as well.

Tight ends continue to gouge the defense: This could be tied into the previous facet, but Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis ran wild on Sunday. Reed had nine catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Davis had five grabs for 93 yards. Dansby, Iloka, Williams, Maualuga and Josh Shaw were all responsible for covering those two and utterly failed.

Mike Nugent’s second straight week of problems: Cincinnati had a good enough lead on Cleveland last week where they could get past the veteran kicker’s first poor game of the season, but more issues loomed even larger in the tie. Nugent again proved he isn’t reliable from beyond 50 yards, as he missed a 51-yard attempt, and a missed extra point is an obvious area to point at for the team leaving London with a sour taste in their mouths.

The Tie: It isn’t a loss, but it feels pretty much just as bad as one. Had the Bengals won, they would have entered the bye week at .500 with a stretch of winnable games ahead. However, with the Bengals unable to beat a pretty decent Redskins team, it doesn’t necessarily look good for their playoff chances going forward. From a player’s perspective, getting a tie is bad enough, but having that result after traveling such a far way has to make it much worse.