I think it’s fair to say that could have gone better.
The Bengals got the crap kicked out of them in front of God and Al Michaels and everyone on Sunday night, falling to the Patriots 43-17. The last remaining unbeaten in the NFL at kickoff, the Bengals looked nothing like the 3-0 team that entered Sunday evening, bludgeoned in every facet by a seriously honked off New England team. The Bengals had a lot going against them (including Brandon Tate), and one would have to think (hope?) that they are much closer to the team we saw in the first three games rather than the one on display this weekend. But either way, that was not a good showing by a team with Super Bowl aspirations. To the rankings…
“The crime isn’t losing the game. The crime will be if we don’t correct our mistakes.” –Vinny Rey
Some things in life are overhyped media narrative. A LOT of things in sports are overhyped media narrative. How a team performs in primetime games would generally fall under that category, yet for the Bengals, it certainly seems to be a very real thing, if only because they haven’t proven otherwise. The team has had plenty of rough non-primetime losses over the last few seasons, and even great teams will usually turn in (at least) one or two stinkers a season. But the Bengals always seem to have those rough losses and stinkers on national television, to the point that it’s hard to call it an accident. The Bengals lost three fumbles, had three points at halftime, and fell to 2-5 in primetime since the 2011 Dalton-Green reboot. Woof.
2. Pissed Off Pats
Regardless of what happened Sunday night, the outcome was always going to be more about the Pats—which in this case, turned out to be a good thing for the Bengals. But after the Patriots got hammered by the Chiefs 41–14 last Monday night, this matchup had two possible storylines: either the Patriots truly suck, and even a half-competent game by the Bengals would result in a win; or the Patriots don’t suck, and they would be so pissed off that a mollywhopping of the Bengals was inevitable. Door #2 turned out to be the case.
3. Vontaze Burfict
The stud linebacker missed his second game under the concussion protocol, and his absence was felt on the defensive side for the Bengals. The active LBs had a PFF grade of -8.2 in coverage, and if you remove Jimmy Garoppolo’s late-game kneel downs, the Pats averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry on the ground (5.4 ypc if you subtract Brady’s four scrambles/QB sneaks for 13 yards).
4. Brandon Tate
The only positive to come from having Tate return kicks (having him on the roster, really) is that it spawned this Brandon Tate vs a hamster thread on Reddit.
5. Andy Dalton
No, Dalton was not terrible in this game. His stats actually ended up looking pretty good (15/24 for 204 yds, 8.5 ypa, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 117.4 QB rating), and the Bengals will usually win most games when their quarterback posts those kind of numbers. But in reality, he was pretty meh. He missed on a few big throws (one to Gio, one or two to AJ), though in his defense, he did have a few drops (a would-be TD to Gresham, one or two by Sanu) and a Green fumble. But the biggest problem was that he came out looking scared, skittish, and overmatched in yet another primetime game. He’ll never play like Brady, but it would help if he at least looked somewhat like Brady in a big game—calm in the huddle, collected in the pocket, commanding on the sideline. Instead, he always looks like the kid with the glasses from The Little Giants.
Honorable Mention: Jermaine Gresham trying to catch a football like it’s a beach ball, Mike Nugent being a rich man’s version of Brandon Tate, Pacman’s punt return, #OnToCarolina
Our Weekly Look at Andy Dalton vs The Blitz
On four snaps against the blitz, Dalton scrambled once and completed 2/3 passes 30 yards, no TDs, no INTs, a QB rating of 99.3, and a PFF grade of +0.3.
Classy move by the Pats on Sunday, having their cheerleaders wear Still’s #75 jersey and showing a video of Still’s daughter on the jumbotron to raise awareness for pediatric cancer research. Pats owner Robert Craft also donated $25k to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
The weekly Madden Giferator creation
Paul Guenther Bleep Button
— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) October 6, 2014