Takin’ A Look Back: Failures In The Running Game Allowed The Epic 4th Quarter Meltdown

Here’s my film review of the Cardinals game on Saturday. The first three quarters were great for the Bengals on both sides of the ball. But the 4th quarter was almost one of the worst meltdowns in Bengals history.

The first five bullets are my thoughts on why the 4th quarter went so awry. After that I get into the positives and negatives of the game in chronological order.

  • Absolutely failed at run blocking in the second half. The team needed to possess the ball and kill the clock with a 20 point lead, but Cardinals were putting 8 or 9 men in the box and getting penetration. This team simply doesn’t have the personnel to have successful runs with 8 defensive players in the box. That meant short offensive possessions and the defense had to be on the field for a lot of the second half.
  • Benson’s fumbles were huge. You can’t be doing that, man. Especially when you know every defender is looking to strip the ball from you. These two turnovers only compounded the fact that the defense was on the field too much in the second half. Benson now has 5 fumbles in the last two games alone. He hadn’t fumbled in a single game this season before then.
  • The pass rush absolutely disappeared in the fourth quarter. Sure, we got 5 sacks on the day and countless QB pressures, but just about every single one of those came in the first three quarters. It seems like the D-line got tired because the defense was on the field too much in the second half. On Arizona’s second TD drive and the FG drive immediately after, the Bengals only used 4 pass rushers for every play in the middle of the field. On all of these, Skelton had all kinds of time and was able to comfortably throw down the field. On the goalline, Zimmer dialed up some blitzes with extra men, and Skelton beat these too. They simply weren’t working. Check out these stats provided by ESPN Stats & Info:
  • NEXT LEVEL: John Skelton completed both of his touchdowns against extra pass rushers in the fourth quarter, and could have hit Early Doucet for a touchdown pass against 6 pass rushers had Doucet not fallen late in the game. Overall, the Bengals amped up their pressure late, sending at least five pass rushers 36 percent of Skelton’s fourth quarter dropbacks.
  • NEXT LEVEL: John Skelton completed only 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) passes, and threw all 3 interceptions (in the first three quarters) when the Bengals sent four or fewer pass rushers.

POSITIVES

  • Good job by punt and kickoff coverage teams. Kickoff teams didn’t allow the returner past the 20-yard line much. On punt coverage, Jeromy Miles really stepped up in the 4th quarter, making two big tackles.
  • Touched on this earlier, but the pass rush was absolutely killer in first three quarters. Johnson blew by his man for a sack early on. When he and Dunlap are both having good games, the sacks just seem to come so easily.
  • That’s three straight games with a pass interference call against AJ’s defender.
  • Great first three quarters by Andy Dalton. Good audibles, evading pressure, running for first downs, Dalton played extremely well. And a fantastic throw on Gresham’s first TD. LB Daryl Washington was in very good coverage. The pass had to be perfect and Dalton did that on the run.
  • Speaking of Gresham, he is so good with running after the catch. He gets positive yardage even with defenders jumping on his back.
  • And how about Ryan Whalen? He, Gresham, and Simpson really stepped up this week (like they needed to), when Green had an injured shoulder and was getting double covered.
  • Skelton was incredibly inaccurate in the first half. Passes high, low, late, left and right. Combine that with a good pass rush and stuffing the run and you get 55 yards of first half offense. Skelton’s inaccuracy was at fault for all three interceptions.
  • Our offensive line is a million times better as pass protection than run blocking. Cedric Peerman picked up the blitz on Saturday really well too.
  • I love when Clements makes tackles in the backfield. His run defense is among the best in the league for cornerbacks.
  • Props to Jay Gruden for getting AJ Green involved in the endaround game. Thats somehing the Bengals havent had for years.
  • Dalton showed great chemistry with Simpson today, finally. Simpson ran a lot of curl routes, and the timing of the throw to Simpson was often perfect.
  • Great coverage by the Bengals on the failed 2-point conversion. Skelton hada full four seconds to throw the ball, but no one was open. Fanene was able to push his man enough inside to strip the ball from Skelton. Coverage sack.

NEGATIVES

  • Nugent with his 3rd and 4th misses of the season in the game. Very uncharacteristic. Nugent came into the game as the most accurate kicker in the NFL this season statistically.

    Hey look, it's Nugent's second missed field goal! Guy two rows in front of me decided to keep it. You sly dog.

  • It’s a good thing there was a false start when the team punted it away. Brandon Johnson got blocked right into Huber.
  • Run defense actually falling apart in the third quarter. Beanie has his first, second, and third longest runs of the day in this quarter.
  • Green isn’t himself. Hopefully he gets a good week of rest, because he hasn’t been getting the separation from corners that he normally gets. And didn’t extend well for a deep ball at the end of the third. AJ Green didn’t have the best of game posting only 2 catches for 25 yards. He was targeted 8 times too.
  • Penalties also hurt us in the 4th quarter. Geno Atkins and Nate Livings both called for big personal fouls penalties.

Topics: Film Review

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