Strong Summary: Dalton Led Bengals Stall Bills

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Updated: October 3, 2011
Bengals Bills

The Cincinnati Bengals came into Week Four with the 3rd-ranked defense in the league and proved that number wasn’t the result of their lowly schedule through the first three weeks (Browns, Broncos, 49ers), holding the highest scoring offense to just 20 points, with 273 yards of total offense.  Fitzpatrick, who came into the game 2nd in the league in touchdowns with nine, was held without a TD toss for only the second time since taking over for Trent Edwards in Week 3 of the 2010 season. Freddy Jackson had minuscule success on the ground, scampering for 66 yards on 17 carries (3.9 ypc). He did manage to punch in a two-yard touchdown with 2:13 left to play in the first half, and also reeled in a handful of receptions for 32 yards.

While the Bengals defense showed up and played a very respectable game, Buffalo’s defense was nowhere to be found. They were getting pressure early in the game on quarterback Andy Dalton, forcing a pair of interceptions, but ultimately let the rookie throw for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown. That’s simply not going to get it done week in and week out. As we found out today we can’t, and shouldn’t, have to lean on Fitzy and co. to put up 40 points a game. I know, giving up 23 points isn’t really THAT bad, but when you let a rookie quarterback, who’s over throwing receivers left and right, manage the game and beat you, there’s necessary cause for concern.

It seems we have the players to compete on that side of the ball, but execution and perhaps a flawed scheme hold back the potential of this defense. Regardless, there’s much to be desired by each unit. All-Pro Kyle Williams and rookie Marcell Dareus, while often double teamed, seemed to get solid push up the middle. However, there’s a lack of consistent pressure on the QB so far throughout the first 4 weeks. Our linebackers, while upgraded (and healthy) are more than capable, simply aren’t making the plays necessary to stop offenses from executing their game plan at will. The secondary, while seemingly having a keen nose for the ball, has to be better down in and down out getting the offense back onto the field. Leodis McKelvin specifically has had a tough time hanging with his man, and has given up far to many plays in this early season.

However, I would like to give a shout out to Bryan Scott, that dude is a baller. Two weeks in a row he’s made an excellent play on the ball for a pick, and should have had a fumble recovery for a potential touchdown but..

Now bear with me here folks, but how the tuck is that not a fumble?! We can personally thank Tom Brady for one of the, if not THE most incredibly flawed rules in the game. I mean seriously, he clearly made up his mind not to throw the football, pulled it in, and FUMBLED. Even if Scott is ruled down, there’s a very good chance they put the ball into the end zone, and an even better chance they at least kick a field goal, which just so happened to be the difference in score. And don’t get me started on Stevie Johnson’s catch that somehow was not a catch, leading to a fourth down punt. I never blame officiating for an outcome, the game is won and lost by players and coaches, but it was clearly very close to amateur hour at Paul Brown Stadium by the gentlemen in stripes today. Moving on…

I felt Fitzy, or Chan, made a few questionable decisions on the first few third downs. Here’s what I’m talking about:

3rd and 4 at the Bills 12 –  Ryan Fitzpatrick incomplete deep to Fred Jackson.

3rd and 4 at the Bills 20 –  Ryan Fitzpatick incomplete deep to Brad Smith.

3rd and 6 at the Bills 39 –  Ryan Fitzpatrick incomplete deep to Donald Jones.

I’m all for taking shots down the field.. when they’re there. Freddy did have a step, and it was still early… ok. Brad Smith nearly pulled that ball down, and D. Jones had a chance on that ball even though it was under thrown, but it’s third down. Going three-and-out on 6 of 11 possessions is a great way to lose a ball game. Take your shots, but move the chains first and foremost, especially with an underwhelming defense.

A loss this early is not the end of the world by any means. Games like this are going to happen, especially to a young, unproven team. As a matter of fact, it’s growing pains like this that are necessary for an aforementioned squad to get to that next level. Containing Michael Vick and that offense will be interesting to say the least, but I look for us to get back on track next weekend hosting Philadelphia.  We’re almost there, but not quite. It’s still early with plenty of room for hope, so keep Billieving because this team can, and I think ultimately will be something special.