The Cincinnati Bengals put up a good fight against their in-state rivals, but came up short. Penalties and a lack of execution in the red zone doomed the Bengals as they fell to 1-12.
Here are the best and worst from the Bengals’ 19-27 loss to the Browns.
Nick Vigil: Aside from allowing Baker Mayfield to get past him for a touchdown scamper in the second quarter, Vigil had some big plays. His
fumble interception of Mayfield on a pass to David Njoku was all effort, while he also knocked down another pass and finished with four tackles.
Joe Mixon: Effort and finish. That is what describes the running back’s style of play, regardless of the team’s record.
Mixon was seen straight-arming and running over Browns defenders with regularity. He’s ending the season strong, as he did last year, finishing with 186 total yards (146 rushing, 40 receiving) in this one.
Tyler Boyd: No. 83 has to be one of the happiest players on the team with Andy Dalton’s return to the lineup. He co-led the team in receptions with five and had the highest amount of receiving yards with 75. Most of his catches netted first downs.
Randy Bullock: It was another windy afternoon in Ohio, but Bullock cut through it to have a solid outing. He was responsible for 13 of the Bengals’ 19 points, including four field goals (long of 46 yards) and an extra point.
Carl Lawson: The rotational edge player was pressed into an increased role on Sunday because of an injury to Sam Hubbard. He responded with a sack, two tackles for loss, four solo tackles and forced a false start of Greg Robinson in the first half.
Jessie Bates III: The second-year safety had early season struggles, but Lou Anarumo has allowed him to be more of a ballhawk lately, which plays directly into his strengths. Bates grabbed an interception of Mayfield (and had another one that was overturned), which was his third of the season and as many in the past five games, as well as three passes defended.
Alex Erickson: On the surface, five catches for 45 yards doesn’t scream “outstanding day!”. However, four of the receptions went for first downs, and the backup receiver added a pretty 26-yard pass to lead to a second quarter field goal.
The “draft positioning” homers: The Bengals are poised to have the No. 1 overall pick next year. Those who want to see them continue to lose this year to get the LSU signal-caller are getting their wish.
Andy Dalton: The veteran made some nice throws in tight windows once again this week, but a couple of errors and examples of skittish feet in critical moments were key in this one. The first and biggest error was the first quarter pick-six, but he also was 3-of-10 passing on third downs into the early part of the fourth quarter.
Dalton also made questionable red zone and third down decisions. In the first quarter, Dalton inexplicably had an intentional grounding call in a goal-to-go situation and also bailed out of other plays once pressure came. He finished 22-of-38 for 262 yards and the pick-six.
Coming out of timeout, under 2 minutes in the half, down by a point. Pressure was there & guys weren’t totally getting open, but kind of feel like you gotta hang in there for a tiny bit longer & make a better throw (easier said than done from my couch with toddler toy chiming in) pic.twitter.com/kyA6WVVSZP— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) December 8, 2019
Darius Phillips: The reserve defensive back was explosive as a kickoff returner before he left for injury, and fortunately for the team, Brandon Wilson stepped up big in the role. Phillips and Wilson swapped spots on I.R. this week, but had just a 22.8-yard per return average, including a facemask penalty the hurt the team in the second half.
John Ross III: Though the team was limiting his snaps because of his return from injury, it was another one of those frustrating days by the former top-10 pick. He had just two catches, but also had a drop, a critical holding penalty and failed to get out of bounds late in the game, as the team tried to get points with minimal time remaining.
Zac Taylor: Cincinnati came into this game as the least-penalized team in the league, which was one of the few feathers in the cap of a one-win season. However, the Bengals were completely undisciplined the week after their first win, racking up eight penalties and massive free yardage.
Taylor also challenged a late play that emptied the team’s timeouts, even though it didn’t go their way and hurt their comeback chances. The team’s overall effort and attitude were there, but the solid play-calls, execution and focus were not. Still, it’s the seventh one-possession loss by the team this year, having to drive Taylor and his staff mad.
The offensive brain trust: What were some of those play calls in the red zone? Cincinnati was woeful in the critical situations of the game and it directly led to the loss.
The Bengals out-gained the Browns in total yardage, hogged the ball for almost nine more minutes and won the turnover battle. None of these matter if you settle for field goals instead of touchdowns and have a 25 percent third-down conversion percentage.
The officiating crew: This group was all over the place on Sunday. Overturning calls, mis-calling downs at some points and overall inconsistency marked the officiating on Sunday afternoon. A portion of the time the group actually made the right call, but it was one of those frustrating games where the referees had a major impact on the result.