The Bengals running game is also cause for concern as they enter into a tough leg of the schedule when the team plays two AFC North rivals back to back. The AFC North, like the Dolphins, is known for their defense. The Bengals running game had a hard time moving the ball against a stout Miami defensive line. The only bright spot was a couple of carries Bernard Scott was able to pull off before having to leave the game with an injury. The team’s combined 80 rushing yards broke down to 40 yards from Scott, 21 yards from Dalton, 14 yards from the team’s starting back Green-Ellis, and 5 yards from Hawkins. These numbers are depressing and don’t look to get much better with the trip to Cleveland coming up Sunday and the Steelers coming to the Queen City in two weeks.
Even the coaching raised some concern in this loss when Marvin Lewis, known for his conservative play calling, chose not to go for it on 4th and 5 at the Miami 23 with about three minutes on the clock and his team trailing by 4. He sent Mike Nugent out to kick a field goal, opting for 3 points in hopes that his defense would get a stop and they would get the ball back trailing by only 1 point. Instead, of going for the win, he went for a field goal that would not put the team in the lead. It made raised eyebrows turn to boos from the crowd when Nugent’s kick sailed wide right and the Bengals remained four points behind the Miami Dolphins. They didn’t get another shot that close to the end zone.
This loss was not a pleasant one for Bengals fans, as they have been watching the offense play with more vigor to pull out wins the last three games. There were a lot of mistakes from every angle of the ball. Defense played steady and held in tough situations, but missed some key positioning. The running game is still struggling, the receivers were dropping passes, and Dalton gave the ball away in two painful situations. Are these the Bengals that the fans have come to know in Cincinnati’s dismal past?
Since the loss to the Dolphins, Bengals fans appear to be retreating and throwing their hopes for the team to the curb. The same people that could be heard chanting “Playoffs,” are now screaming “It’s over”. Is it over? The team has a winning record at 3-2 and last week’s loss, though winnable from every standpoint, was only by 4 points to a team whom everyone knew had the ability to do so. There are quite a few notable 3-2 teams right now in the NFL, too. Let’s take a look at those other teams with the same record: The New England Patriots, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, and the St. Louis Rams.