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Cincinnati Bengals

Postgame Observations: Bengals win 37-34

James Rapien

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The Bengals beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-34 on Sunday afternoon. It was a big win for a team that had lost two-straight games. The outcome favored the Bengals and yet fans, coaches, and players were left wondering how to feel after Randy Bullock kicked the game-winning 44-yard field goal as time expired.

“I’m pleased that we won, but I’m not pleased with how we played,” Marvin Lewis said after the game.

Lewis can’t be the only one who was underwhelmed by the Bengals’ performance. Their offense didn’t get a first down in the second half until the 4:56 mark of the fourth quarter. It was eerily similar to the offense that showed up in Kansas City a week ago. They limped to the finish, but they didn’t start that way.

The offense scored four first half touchdowns and looked like the group we saw earlier in the season against Atlanta and Baltimore. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor committed to the run and Joe Mixon racked up 114 rushing yards on 14 attempts in the first half. The Bengals took a 27-9 lead into halftime.

The offense wouldn’t score another touchdown the rest of the way and weren’t responsible for points until the final play of the game.

“All of the three-and-outs, we were in third-and-long situations, and it made it tough,” Andy Dalton said. “We kept hurting ourselves It’s tough to be in that situation, especially when you’re the one controlling it.”

Dalton completed 21-of-34 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He led the offense on an eight-play, 50-yard drive that set up Bullock’s game-winning kick. The Bengals escaped with their fifth victory of the season.

Injuries have plagued this team all season long and that theme continued on Sunday. Defensive end Carl Lawson suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. It’s a huge blow to a defense that was allowing 29 points-per-game entering Sunday’s matchup with Tampa Bay.

Lawson is one of the Bengals’ best pass rushers and had a 79.2 grade from Pro Football Focus, which is tied for second on the defensive line with Carlos Dunlap and behind Geno Atkins (86.2 grade). Lawson only had one sack this year, but he did have 25 pressures. It’s going to be hard to replace him. The Bengals will probably give Jordan Willis and Sam Hubbard more snaps on the edge. Lawson tore the ACL in his left knee during his sophomore season at Auburn.

Left guard Clint Boling left the game with a back injury and did not return. He’s been the Bengals’ best and most consistent offensive lineman this season. They are hoping that rookie center Billy Price will be good to go on November 11th against New Orleans.

The trade deadline is Tuesday and the Bengals will likely do their due diligence in hopes of finding a deal that makes sense for them. They could use help at linebacker, cornerback, tight end and wide receiver. Rookie Jordan Franks had a 32-yard reception on Sunday, which gave fans a glimpse of what coaches have seen from him in practice.

Running back Giovani Bernard is expected return to the field against the Saints. He is a proven commodity, who should help the Bengals’ consistency on offense. One has to wonder if they will consider signing Dez Bryant, Terrelle Pryor or another weapon for the offense? Tyler Eifert is out for the season, Tyler Kroft is expected to miss multiple weeks, John Ross is dealing with a pulled groin that has lingered since Week 4.

Could the Bengals trade for a wide receiver? DeSean Jackson would make a lot of sense and he wants to be traded according to reports. It’s hard to envision the Bengals making that type of splash move. They should be in the market to acquire talented players that could get them over the hump. The AFC North is wide open, but it’s hard to envision this team making a run without adding another piece.

Other notes and observations:

Jessie Bates is the real deal. The rookie safety scored his first touchdown in the NFL today and is the highest-graded member of the Bengals’ secondary according to Pro Football Focus. Bates has 54 tackles on the season, which is tied for seventh in the NFL and leads the team. He’s the only safety in the top ten, which says a lot about his play and the Bengals’ struggles on defense.

The Cincinnatians came up big on Sunday. Both Adolphus Washington and Sam Hubbard had sacks. Preston Brown had seven tackles and an interception. It’s always good when local players make it to the NFL. It’s even better to see them have an impact for their hometown team.

Tyler Boyd is on pace to finish the season with 98 receptions, 1,240 yards and 12 touchdowns. He continues to shine in his third season. I said Boyd was Dalton’s ‘safety net’ at the start of the season. He’s been that and more in the first half of 2018.

The Bengals’ defense allowed 576 yards of total offense on Sunday. They are on pace to allow 7,164 yards, which would set an NFL record for most yards allowed in a season. The 2012 Saints hold the current record of 7,042 yards.

45,134 people were at Paul Brown Stadium today, which is the lowest attendance number since the 2011 season.

For more on the Bengals, listen to a postgame edition of the Locked on Bengals podcast below.

James covers the Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds for ESPN 1530 and 700 WLW in Cincinnati. He hosts shows on both stations, including Cincy 3:60 from 12pm-1pm daily on ESPN 1530. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Feel free to email him your ideas, fantasy football questions and hot takes.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Three-Wide Set, All My Bengals

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There was a soap opera that was on television, when I was a kid, that I would see when I stayed home sick from school. Figured the title fits what has happened with the Bengals the last few days, so I tweaked it for this week’s three-wide set, what’d you think?

  1. Teryl Austin out, Marvin Lewis in…again.So the most obvious move, ever, happened Monday with the separation of the Bengals and their defunct defensive director. Austin seemed like a good guy, and all, but his defense was horrendous. In case you’ve lived under a rock and are just now delving into the Bengals 2018 season, they are last in all the NFL in yards allowed. Somehow, they are not last, but second to last in points allowed. In fact, as Jay Morrison remarked on Twitter, the Bengals are 11th in points scored this season, but 28th in point differential. That’s how bad this defense has been. One more oh wow moment with bad defense is I am pretty sure, without looking, that the last two Bengals opponents haven’t punted. (Checks stats) Ok, they forced two punts in the Buccaneers game. That being said, opposing offenses had converted over 50% of their third down attempts against the Cincinnati defense. That’s not great. Oh, and one more, one more, oh wow moment: the Bengals became the first team in NFL history to allow 500+ yards in three-straight games…okay, I am done.
    Enter Marvin to “fix” the defense. Not sure it can be done, at this point, but to be real, it can’t get worse. Like, when you’re last, you can’t be more last. Just like if you’re dead, you can’t die again. Yet, somehow, with the worst defense in the league, the Bengals are not dead.  Lewis can schematically fix the defense (which doesn’t help the tackling) and may be able to up the ante on the pass rush, as this defense has been the most passive I’ve seen since Marvin came aboard, but will it be enough? If they pull out a win this Sunday in Baltimore, it will put them in a nice spot for the 2nd wild card spot, if they don’t get it together and lose to Baltimore then the three-wide set might start looking at three draft prospects for the Bengals, each week.
  1. Hue Jackson is back, again again. Welcome back home Mike Brown’s favorite son not named Marvin. The prodigal son returns as he, once again, tried to take his inheritance and go off to another team to make a name for himself, only to find himself, yet again, an assistant on the Bengals coaching staff. This time it’s very Dwight Schrute-esque as he is the “Special Assistant to the Head Coach.” Read that, “assistant to the head coach,” not “assistant head coach.” Here’s hoping Bill Lazor puts his stapler in jello.
    I really do not know how to feel. The “in the moment” side of me likes it for the simple fact he can provide inside info on the Browns, who the Bengals haven’t played, and he might be able to help out a now double-duty Marvin. But the “big picture” side of me hates this. Now it gives a reason for Mike Brown to let go of Marvin Lewis, after his contract expires, and seamlessly transition to another coach he likes. Brown now doesn’t have to go through the necessary, desperately needed painful process of interviewing new coaches who could possibly provide fresh-thinking to a team that desperately needs it. Instead he can hand over the keys to the coach’s office, without any hullabaloo, to a man who does not deserve it (objectively) but, rather, is someone who Mike Brown sees as a son. Ugh…
  1. John Ross scored! That’s right, much congratulations to the man who has endured a lot of criticism, a lot of vitriol, a lot of unnecessary hate…I am talking, of course, about our fearless podcast host, James Rapien. I thought Ross looked good, I thought Andy was bad. JR15 was getting separation, making some guys miss on their coverage…and the ball fell short. Dalton underthrew him. What was the joke when Ross was drafted? “Great, now we can have the fastest dude in the NFL for Andy to still overthrow.” Well, he wasn’t overthrown, he was underthrown. Seriously, there was a tweet, can’t remember who (probably Joe Goodberry), that showed all of John Ross’ targets. The ones he didn’t catch, were bad throws. Plain and simple. Those who criticize Ross are not looking at the whole picture. I think he gets better and I think Andy can build a rapport with him, maybe even this week at Baltimore. Point is, fans and haters, John Ross is going to be just fine.

This is the biggest game of the year, this Sunday, at M&T Bank stadium. Last year, the Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs there. Will the Ravens get revenge? Or will the Bengals continue their recent dominance over the Ravens (eight wins in the last 10 games)? Stay tuned!

Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals for more Cincinnati professional football content

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Cincinnati Bengals

Reacting to Austin’s firing and our film review with Joe Goodberry

James Rapien

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I discuss the Bengals firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Marvin Lewis taking over for him, plus Joe Goodberry joins me for our weekly film review. We talk about the Bengals’ 51-14 loss to the Saints, what can be fixed on defense, their issues on offense and more. Listen and subscribe to the podcast below.

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Cincinnati Bengals

The Saints march all over the Bengals 51-14

James Rapien

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The Saints dismantled the Bengals 51-14 on Sunday afternoon. Cincinnati falls to 5-4 and continues to struggle following a 4-1 start to the season. I recapped them game, discussed the defensive struggles, plus hear from Drew Brees, John Ross and I respond to your voicemails on a postgame edition of the Locked on Bengals podcast. Listen and subscribe below.

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