Sports Today: Bengals show what they can be if it’s not too late



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Sports Today: Bengals show what they can be if it’s not too late

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GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 24-21 overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers might have felt a lot different on a different week. 

That was the type of game I expected from the Bengals all season.  

They played decently on the road against a likely division winner with an elite quarterback and lost a close game. 

Too bad it came after they played badly at home and lost to two .500-ish teams to start the season, thus leaving them 0-3. 

I picked them to go 10-6 because there are more of the latter (and worse) teams on the schedule than teams like the Packers. 

I thought they could make the playoffs but given their offensive line and overall youth not make much noise once there. 

Sunday made me think 8-8 is still a possibility, though I’m not sure that is worth much in the grand scheme of things. 

This game also made the idea the Bengals can build a roster so good they can win despite Andy Dalton look more like a pipe dream than ever.  

Both of the teams have solid defenses (though the Bengals are better) and bad offensive lines. Cincinnati has better skill players on offense.  

Green Bay has Rodgers.  

Green Bay won.  

Dalton was much better than he was the first two games, but it wasn't enough.  

He avoided turnovers and had great numbers overall — better than Rodgers even. 

Often times big plays are the name of the game in football, especially the NFL, and the Packers made more of those. 

The Bengals had no plays gain more than 25 yards (a 20-yard run also was extended 12 yards by penalty), and their longest pass play went for 21. 

The Packers had three plays of 41 yards or more, including the 72-yard pass from Rodgers to Geronimo Allison that broke Cincinnati’s back in overtime. 

Television analyst Tony Romo calling out checks and throws Dalton should have been making (which might not all have been correct, keep in mind) didn’t put the Bengals’ QB in the best of light, either, but this game was reminiscent of last year where they generally avoided big mistakes but didn’t make enough plays, either. 

New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seemed to provide a spark early. The Bengals were very efficient on their first three drives, but once Green Bay got a look at what the Bengals were going to do to work around the deficiency of their offensive line and highlight A.J. Green, the results weren't nearly the same.  

Sometimes that was on Lazor. Sometimes it was on the execution. 

It all added up to an 0-3 start… 

Meanwhile, it was a good weekend for Ohio State athletics. 

The Buckeyes beat UNLV on the football field and the basketball team picked up an important prospect along the way. 

The latter was Justin Ahrens, talented wing player from Versailles. 

Ahrens made an official visit to Columbus over the weekend and came away convinced Ohio State is still the place for him. 

He originally committed to OSU during the Thad Matta era but took a look around after Matta was replaced by Chris Holtmann in late spring. 

Ahrens is the reigning MAC Player of the Year and the sixth-rated player in the state according to 247Sports. 

He was the fourth player to commit to Ohio State last week, leaving the Buckeyes with the No. 9 recruiting class in the country for now. 

Holtmann has added a point guard (Duane Washington of Chattsworth Calif.), two wings (Ahrens and Jaedon LeDee of Houston, Texas) and a shooting guard (Luther Muhammad of Jersey City, New Jersey) and might not be done yet. 

It remains to be seen how good the Buckeyes will be this season, but the coaching change has certainly injected much-needed life into the program… 

As for the football team, lots of players got some valuable experience in a drubbing of UNLV. 

Before you pooh-pooh J.T. Barrett’s day, tell me if you think he (and the entire offense) would have been able to execute at that level against air two weeks ago. 

And what about the Reds? Well, they were swept over the weekend by the Boston Red Sox. 

At least Billy Hamilton did something cool, though. 

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