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Bengals rushing defense is becoming a problem

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Over the course of the last two games, Cincinnati's defense has allowed 369 yards rushing with a 4.99 yard/rush average. And over the course of the 2014 season, the opposing offense is averaging 4.96 yard/rush.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals just didn't have it. That works, right? It's as good of a philosophical explanation as any.

The emotion was nonexistent, with every molecule of Sunday's intensity going to the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense fired on every cylinder -- Cincinnati's offense couldn't respond and the defense was shock-and-awed.

And while the Bengals defense is the foundation of the team's soul this year, it was also the biggest fail on Sunday.

Specifically, the rushing defense.

Cincinnati allowed 220 yards rushing against the Patriots, focusing on a disturbing trend that's developing into a growing concern. Over the course of the last two games, Cincinnati's defense has allowed 369 yards rushing with a 4.99 yard/rush average. Over the course of the season, the opposing offense is averaging 4.96 yard/rush (560 yards rushing on 113 carries).

Stevan Ridley (113 yards) and Shane Vereen (90) combined for 203 yards during New England's 43-17 win on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Not since 2012, during the second and third week, have the Bengals defense allowed 300-plus yards rushing during a two-game stretch. It's also the most allowed since week 16 and 17 during the team's 2009 season, when the defense allowed 380 yards rushing in both games combined.

The reasons are expansive.

Vontaze Burfict has missed two straight and played sparingly against the Falcons and Ravens. Michael Johnson was a significant presence against the run, but he left for Tampa Bay during the offseason. Geno Atkins is slowly getting better, but is somewhat of a liability. Domata Peko has been struggling. Emmanuel Lamur has been struggling also.

Either way, it's troubling.