Week 3 is in the books for the Cincinnati Bengals, and the team (and its fans) are happy to close this chapter. Why? For starters, it was a second straight loss to an AFC opponent – this time, 29-17 to the Denver Broncos. Also for the second consecutive game, the Bengals were the victim of bad officiating (as if last week wasn’t enough to make us reach for the Pepto-Bismol).
There were some positive things to come out of Sunday’s Cincinnati Bengals game. But honestly, we’d be just fine if we were left with a W and another week to sort out any issues.
Good, Bad, and Ugly
The Bengals’ running game got out of the gutter, with Jeremy Hill rushing for 2 touchdowns and 97 yards. Quarterback Andy Dalton, however, didn’t have a Dalton-esque outing (206 yards, no TDs.) Neither of those stats really mattered, though. Denver QB Trevor Siemian was unstoppable, going for 312 yards and 4 scores on 23-35 passing.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ momentum was also killed as a result of 3 questionable penalties. The first involved illegal contact on DB Dre Kirkpatrick in the 1st quarter. Then Adam Jones “fumbled” the ball on a punt return even though his knee was down. Finally, O-lineman Kevin Zeitler got hit with a holding call that even announcer Dan Fouts expressed doubts over.
Even with all that, the Bengals found themselves leading 17-16 in the 3rd quarter. But the Broncos put together a 14-play drive that drained the defense, and receiver AJ Green had a rare drop that would’ve given the offense a first down and kept the D off the field to rest.
When Jones got banged up and had to leave the game, backup DB Chris Lewis-Harris was brought in … and then burned down for a 55-yard TD by the Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas.
Dalton had a pass tipped and intercepted soon after, and that was it. This week’s silver lining is that there isn’t much time to mourn over this one. That’s because there’s a Thursday night showdown against the Miami Dolphins right around the corner.
Even though that Manning guy isn’t under center anymore, the Broncos are in a familiar spot – atop the AFC West with a dominating D headed by Von Miller and his NFL-leading 4 sacks. So what does that mean for the Cincinnati Bengals? Let’s find out. Here are 4 things to watch in the Bengals-Broncos matchup this Sunday:
1. Cincinnati’s offense needs balance. Andy Dalton’s been doing his thing, passing for 732 yards in only 2 weeks. The Bengals’ ground game, on the other hand, is ranked 31st in the league. Those numbers need to be closer this Sunday so that the Broncos’ 4th-ranked defense doesn’t key in on Dalton and the receivers.
2. A better O-line performance wouldn’t hurt. Against the Jets in week 1, the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line surrendered 7 sacks. The group had a better showing against the Steelers in terms of pass protection but the rushing attack has only mustered 103 yards in 2016. If that trend continues in Week 3 with Miller & Company coming to town …. um, yyyeah, not something we wanna think about.
3. The home opener is here. Cincinnati is probably ready to hear the crowd cheer when they make a big play. They’ll get their wish this Sunday. Expect a fired-up team that will play with an edge – we hope.
4. Stopping in the Red Zone. Even though they are undefeated, the Broncos leave something to be desired when they get inside their opponents’ 20. QB Trevor Siemian has only thrown 1 TD and 3 INTs up to this point, so look for the Cincinnati Bengals’ D to rattle him as they get closer to the goal line.
So today is Sunday, December 16th, 2012 and the Bengals are off today as they are coming off a Thursday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly this past week which they won by a score of 34-13. The Bengals were able to rebound from a tough 1 point loss at home against the Dallas Cowboys the game prior to that and forced 5 turnovers against a bad Eagle team while getting their first defensive touchdown of the season in the win. The team now has a record of 8-6 and are in a “win and you’re in” position in mid-December to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 30 years.
So what’s next? If the Broncos beat the Ravens today the Bengals will still have a shot at the division title with 2 games remaining. If the Cowboys defeat the Steelers today the Bengals will have a one game lead on the final AFC Wildcard spot. If the Texans beat the Colts today the Bengals will be one game behind the Colts for the 5th seed Wildcard spot. The next 2 games are at Pittsburgh and at home against the reeling Ravens. Talk about huge!
If you are a Bengals fan you can’t ask for much more than to be in this position come mid-December. So with that all being said, the only thing left to say is WHO DEY!
If the Bengals would have had a different more positive outcome on two plays in the game against the Broncos yesterday I believe they would have won the game by a final score of 26-24. The first play would be Mike Nugent’s 46 yard missed FG as time expired in the first half. The second play would be the 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half by Broncos WR Trindon Holliday. What a difference two plays makes.