Sunday reminded me of a great oldies son: “Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this my Mama said.” Only that was not the proper soundtrack for Sunday’s game in Chicago. The proper track record would have been circus music.
However, 24 hours after the meltdown, I am bringing the voice of reason (without overlooking the problems). Take a deep breath Bengals fans and step back from the ledge. As I said in my preview, a loss to the Bears would not be reason for panic (regardless of how it occurred). Sure, the way the Bengals lost was painful – killing themselves. Sure a win would have been huge – more so with every other AFC North team losing. Sure, they had it won and should have won. But, lets also give credit where credit is due. This is a good Bears team that made plays and will likely end the year with double digits wins.
And, despite the bad (and there was plenty of it), there was also plenty of good to take away from this game. Prior to the game, if I were to tell you the Bengals would lose on the road to a Bears team that went 10-6 in 2012, you probably wouldn’t have been shocked. Losing on the road to a good team is hardly something to panic over – this was a 50-50 game. The frustration is they lost a game they should have won and failed to take advantage of an early opportunity to take the lead in what could be a tight division. While the saying may be “The good, the bad and the ugly,” we are going to reverse the order, get the bad out first, then the ugly, and then talk about what went well on Sunday and how that should lead to a victory next Monday. I am frustrated, disappointed, but still very optimistic about this team.
Run Defense – Matt Forte is a great back, who if healthy, will likely approach 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2013; 1,300-1,500 of which will be via the ground. The Bengals shut Forte down with just 50 yards on 19 carries (2.6 ypc). The longest run by a non-QB was a 9 yard run by Forte. That is stout run defense.
They were the better team – This makes the loss all the more frustrating, but it is true. It may sound like typical loser talk, but it is true. Anyone that watched that game would have to admit that the Bengals were the better team (when it comes to simply the football part). They had scoring drives of 97, 91 and 80 yards, and 2 other drives where they were moving the ball unimpeded until they coughed it up. The penalties and turnovers can be fixed, and that is what killed them. The Bears did not beat the Bengals. The Bengals beat the Bengals.
AJ Green – Despite his drop and fumble, he is still a stud that is impossible to shut down (9 catches, 162 yards, 2 TDs – and should have been 10 catches for 187 and 2 TDs) and was the reason the Bengals had the 11 point lead they had.
Andy Dalton – I’m sure he will get blamed, but Dalton played really well (26-33, 282 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 97.2 Rating). The 1st pick was his fault (though not a terrible throw), but Green needs to do a better job to break that up. The 2nd pick was a perfect pass to Green and is all on Green. I was very encouraged by what I saw from Dalton on Sunday.