Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green was Cincinnati's leading receiver when the Bengals mercifully concluded their embarrassing performance on Sunday Night Football. With five receptions and 81 yards receiving against the Patriots, Green added a touchdown reception with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter (reducing Cincinnati's lead) when Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis exited the game with a hamstring injury.
Additionally, Green only generated a pedestrian eight yards after the reception and lost a fumble late in the second quarter. So instead of Cincinnati reducing New England's 17-3 lead at halftime to 17-6 or 17-10, the Patriots secured Green's fumble and took a 20-3 lead into halftime. And most of Green's production happened in the second half... when Cincinnati was virtually out of contention.
Either way, Green didn't think Revis had much to do with his lack of production. It was the lack of making plays and a defensive scheme that double-downed on Green.
"He didn't do anything special," Green said via Bengals.com. "He’s still a great corner, but he didn't do anything to me that hasn't been done before. They bracketed me on the outside and he tried to get me to go inside. Nothing special. "I don't feel like he shut me down," Green said. "I had a step on him most of the night, we just didn't make the plays."
Dalton targeted Green four times in the first 17 minutes of the game. One was intercepted by Revis, but offsetting penalties neutralized the turnover. And with all due respect to Green, how about fighting for it or at least coming back to ensure that Revis is down? I mean... take the penalty if you need to.
Twice Dalton overthrew deep routes well out of bounds, and the one time that they hooked up, Green ran a crossing pattern at the line of scrimmage and finished the play without gaining a yard.
With 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, the Bengals were gaining momentum. It's third and seven from the Patriots 18-yard line. Dalton tried throwing into double coverage while Green was swallowed up in coverage.
Cincinnati benefitted on an Alfonzo Dennard defensive hold and eventually converted on a 23-yard field goal to reduce New England's 17-point lead to two touchdowns. The next time that Green caught the football, he fumbled it with 1:08 remaining in the first half. And within a minute, New England kicked a field goal to recover their 17-point advantage.
Compared to their previous performances in the postseason, or during primetime games, Dalton and Green took strides towards the positive, sure. Yet, if the Bengals are destined to take that next step, they need Dalton and Green to be great. And they weren't great on Sunday Night.