It was a cold day in The Queen City and the struggling Chicago Bears put up a bigger fight than some may have expected. Cincinnati never held the lead for the shortest of times in Week 14 and played totally uninspired football, as their season appears to finally officially be over.
Here are some of the Bengals players who had good and bad performances in Week 14.
Giovani Bernard: The fifth-year back is a winner because he was the feature back in a game for the first time in a long time. However, No. 25 answered the bell and had a number of hard-fought runs.
Bernard had 11 carries for 61 yards and another six catches for 68 yards—both led all receivers. The problem wasn’t with his production, but the team’s ability to stay on the field and regularly feed him the football.
Michael Johnson: The veteran had a very nice day, including two tackles for loss on run plays and two sacks. For one of the two sacks on which he brought down Mitchell Trubisky, he navigated through three would-be blockers.
The Bengals’ linebackers: Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard ran wild, as the Bears’ exciting duo took advantage of the Bengals’ defensive absences. Missed tackles by Kevin Minter and others were part and parcel of the defensive performance this afternoon.
Minter also had a critical pass interference penalty in the end zone and then gave up a subsequent touchdown pass to Adam Shaheen at the onset of the fourth quarter. Jordan Evans seemed to be the best of the bunch, though that wasn’t saying much. Cohen finished with 80 rushing yards, while Howard had 148 on the ground and two scores.
A.J. Green: It wasn’t so much that Green had a totally poor game, as much as it was a tough one. By that, we mean he had opportunities to make some of his trademark incredible catches, but either errant throws or quality coverage negated the opportunities.
He had just five catches for 64 yards, while his most impressive play may have been at the end of the half to tip away a Mitchell Trubisky Hail Mary pass. Then, when he started to get going at the beginning of the fourth quarter, he had an inexcusable fumble as the team tried to climb out of a big hole.
George Iloka: The safety should have been one of the most steady presences on Sunday with so many of his mates out with injury, but he struggled. He was on coverage of Shaheen, who had two critical catches on the gigantic drive before the half, and also allowed another critical catch to Kendall Wright for a first down.
While he won his appeal to be able to play against the Bears, it didn’t do much good for the Bengals. He, much like the rest of the defense, appears to be a step behind on pass plays during critical situations on Sunday.
Iloka didn't even attempt to make that tackle.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) December 10, 2017
Paul Guenther: Who the heck is teaching the Bengals’ defense how to tackle? Brady Quinn noted on the telecast that Cincinnati’s defense entered Sunday with the fourth-most missed tackles in the NFL and it exponentially worse against the Bears. Chicago ran for 232 yards and three touchdowns on Cincinnati’s home turf.
Guenther is ultimately in charge of this, but Jim Haslett also has to be held accountable. Yes, the group was missing quite a few starters and high-profile role players, but this has been a year-long issue. Another theme also came true, as the rookie Trubisky made Guenther’s unit look silly in a turnover-less game.
Andy Dalton: The Bengals’ signal-caller had a six-game streak without throwing an interception, but that ended on Sunday against the Bears. He was just 6-of-14 in the first half and looked far less comfortable against Chicago.
Last week, the quick-hitting passing plan worked well against the Steelers, but it almost seemed as if Dalton was throwing Green’s way immediately without properly recognizing how covered he was at times. Down 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Dalton actually had Josh Malone running free for what would have been a bomb of a touchdown, but let loose a poor throw off of his back foot. Ultimately, AJ McCarron entered the game and it’ll be interesting to see if we find McCarron on the field more as the season comes to a close.