Posted: 12:00 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, 2013
By Josh Kirkendall
Andy Dalton set a career-high completing 78.8 percent of his passes, using the deep ball and the more efficient short routes. He added multiple 40-yard passes to A.J. Green along with two touchdowns. Dalton did throw two interceptions, one was the result of Green's brick hands in the middle of triple coverage and the other was arguable anyone's fault -- Dalton for throwing or Green for not being aggressive enough.
I hated the decision to throw the football with :59 seconds remaining in the first half, which led to an incomplete pass to Mohamed Sanu that stopped the clock and allowed Chicago to eventually score a field goal -- though converting 58-yard field goals in Chicago isn't all that easy. But I'm going to blame that on Jay Gruden for making the call to pass on second down.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis converted a third-and-one and scored a touchdown that gave Cincinnati a 21-10 lead. However, Green-Ellis also had eight runs that gained two yards or less and four carries that lost 13 combined yards. Giovani Bernard gained 22 yards on four carries, and added an eight-yard reception. When it was said and done, the Bengals running backs averaged a collective 3.0 yards/rush average.
If not for A.J. Green's 162 yards receiving, it would be hard to argue anything other than a fat F for the receivers. Mohamed Sanu only averaged 4.8 yards/reception on four catches, failed to haul in a second down reception with less than a minute in the first half and then lost a fumble that led to Chicago's game-winning touchdown.
Even Green wasn't excused from his own failures, dropping a pass that led to an interception and having his own fumble issues that fortunately the Bears didn't recover.
Cincinnati clearly favored tight ends on Sunday, activating four. But it was really Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert that played the bulk of Sunday's game -- Smith only had six snaps and Charles added seven.
Gresham and Eifert combined for 10 receptions for 82 yards receiving. More importantly, they caught every pass that Andy Dalton threw to them. Three of Gresham's five receptions led to first downs -- including two third down conversions. Eifert added two first downs.
The Bengals were good in pass protection, limiting the Chicago Bears to one sack. Backup left tackle Anthony Collins erased any evidence that Julius Peppers even exists. In fact, according to the NFL game book, Dalton was only hit one other time.
On the other hand, many of Green-Ellis' failures running the football were blown run blocking schemes between the guards. Overall, very unimpressive run blocking.
Against the run, the Bengals defensive line held blockers and even made their own plays. Domata Peko and Brandon Thompson had plays that directly lead to losses. Matt Forte generated only 50 yards rushing on 19 carries and the Chicago Bears averaged 2.9 yards/rush.
However, the pass rush was nonexistent. Quarterback Jay Cutler had ample time to find developing routes without much pressure -- was hit only four times.
Maybe one of the lone bright spots on Cincinnati's defense. Obviously Rey Maualuga made a bone-headed decision to commit a personal foul that allowed Chicago to wipe out the clock. But overall his afternoon was solid, second on the team with seven tackles.
Disappointed in the secondary. Terence Newman gave up a 38-yard reception to Brandon Marshall and Adam Jones got suckered in by a scrambling Jay Cutler in the third quarter that opened the zone for Martellus Bennett's 30-yard reception. Jones added another third down conversion while covering Marshall in the first quarter. George Iloka couldn't knock out Cutler's first touchdown throw to Bennett in the first quarter (but that's hardly all on him) and Reggie Nelson was badly beaten on Brandon Marshall's fourth quarter touchdown.
Rough start for special teams. Adam Jones' 50-yard return was nullified on Cedric Peerman's illegal block and Shawn Williams added a facemask on Chicago's ensuing punt return. Cincinnati didn't return a single kickoff and and of the five punts kicked by Chicago, only one was officially returned for 13 yards. Kevin Huber had a good afternoon however, averaging 48.3 yards per punt.
The decision to throw the football on second down with less than a minute remaining in the first half stopped the clock and allowed Chicago the opportunity to convert a field goal -- which ended up being the difference in the game. Blame Marvin Lewis or Mike Zimmer for the use of consecutive time outs in the fourth quarter for personnel packages having too few or too many. Collectively, the coaching staff failed.