Last night was a debacle, and no one’s denying that. The Bengals were hoping to make a statement that they were ready to run with the NFL’s elite after going 0-8 against playoff teams last year, but last night showed the Bengals are still a young team that needs more development before hey can challenge the Ravens and Steelers for the AFC North crown.
In that same game at Baltimore last year, Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott had a combined 81 yards on 24 carries, while last night BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 91 yards and a score on just 18 carries in his Cincinnati debut. He also converted several third and fourth down plays, including the 4th-and-1 play at the BAL 6-yard line in which he powered into the endzone for the Bengals only score of the night. His 5.1 yards per carry average was the result of his ability to find holes in the defense, as well as the offensive-line’s improved run-blocking from last season, and the new starting guard due of Clint Boling and rookie Kevin Zeitler were very impressive last night, along with center Jeff Faine, who was signed off the street less than two weeks ago. The offensive line was the biggest question going into last night, and they ironically emerged as one of the few bright spots.
Geno Atkins showed why he’s considered by some to be the second-best defensive-tackle in the NFL behind the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata, as he registered two tackles for loss, two QB hits, and two sacks as he spent much of the night in the Ravens backfield terrorizing Joe Flacco. If he could have gotten any other support from his front-seven, or something resembling descent coverage skills from his defensive-backs, last night could have been a much different story. A healthy Carlos Dunlap could be just what the doctor ordered, and hopefully he returns this week to take advantage of a terrible Browns offensive line and this defense shows why they’ve been in the top-10 almost every year Mike Zimmer has been here.