- No turnovers. It seems that the Bengals learned their lesson from the preseason, where their turnover margin was -7 across 4 games. Surprisingly, neither team turned the ball over until late in the 4th quarter on Sunday. The Bengals ended up +1 against the Browns due to one interception by defensive lineman Michael Johnson. The Bengals under Marvin Lewis are now 41-9-1 when they win the turnover battle.
- Few penalties. The Browns took a page out of the Bengals’ playbook on Sunday, getting flagged 11 times for 72 yards. Even with 3 rookies starting in an away game, the Bengals somehow committed only three penalties for 22 yards.
- Great Defense. The defense truly won the game for the Bengals. They held Madden Coverboy Peyton Hillis to 57 yards on 17 carries. The coverage was very good, with 10 passes defended. The Defensive Line really disrupted Colt McCoy, holding him to a miserable 19 completions out of 40 attempts, 5.3 yards/attempt, and a QB rating of 70.1 QB. They also forced the Browns to punt it 8 times.
- Many Rookie Records Were Broken: Andy Dalton only played the first half, but he was still able to do some things that rookies had never done before. 1- He was the fifth rookie quarterback since 1970 to win on the road in his debut game during week one. 2- Out of all rookies QBs making their debut in week 1 since 1970, he had the third best QB rating of all time with a rating of 102.4 (Cam Newton’s debut, rated at 110.4, placed him at #2). 3- Dalton also led the team down the field to score on it’s first three drives. No Bengals team had ever done that before in week one. 4- AJ Green broke a rookie record with his 41-yard touchdown catch: “The catch, according to the NFL, was the longest fourth-quarter game-winning touchdown reception in NFL history by a rookie during his team’s first game.”
- Reggie Nelson was the Defensive MVP: Reggie was all over the field today. He led the team in tackles with 9 (7 solo), 1 sack, 1 QB hit, and 2 passes defended. Not bad for the guy we got in return for David Jones (who was actually released by the Jaguars yesterday).
- Right Tackle Andre Smith and rookie Right Guard Clint Boling played very well. Boling’s name wasn’t called all day in his debut start (which is a good thing if you are a lineman). He didn’t play like a rookie, and only allowed one hit on the quarterback all day. Andre Smith’s big body was hard to move, and he was particularly effective in run-blocking. These two players could be the future of the O-line for years to come.
- Kevin Huber’s punts were fantastic. Huber’s beautiful punts were crucial to the team’s win. He averaged 47.8 yards per punt (compare to the Browns lowly 36.0 yards per punt), with 2 downed inside the 20 yard line and one downed at the 1 yard line. When the Bengals offense can’t always click on all cylinders, Huber must be able to give opposing teams poor field position, as he did against the Browns.
- Getting the W. Nothing as important as getting the win itself. Going into the game, no one had high expectations for the Bengals except for a few loyal fans and the Bengals players themselves. They pulled the rug out from under the Cleveland Browns, leaving their hopeful fans highly disappointed.
- Special teams was a disappointment. Brandon Tate added some spark with his 35 yard kickoff return and 15 yard punt return, but he made poor decisions twice when he came out of the endzone on a kickoff return, only to be downed at the 10 yard line both times. The coverage teams struggled to contain Josh Cribbs, who had a 51 yard kickoff return from 9 yards deep in the end zone. That play rejuvanated the spirits of the Browns and gave them great field position.
- The offense stalled big time in the middle of the game. 7 consecutive punts in the game had fans reeling. The 2nd and 3rd quarters were miserable, with Dalton falling out of rhythm and Gradkowski struggling to find rhythm. Throws were inaccurate, receivers made crucial drops, Gradkowski was largely ineffective, and Bernard Scott average .8 yards a carry when appeared during the second quarter.
- The Offensive Line as a whole needs to play better. For the Bengals, the offensive line must play very well in order to have offensive success. We have a rookie quarterback and a run-first offense, therefore both pass-blocking and run-blocking need to be well above average. Overall, there were good individual performances, but quite a few blown plays. In pass-blocking, they allowed 4 sacks and 7 QB hits on Andy Dalton. That’s too much for a rookie, even one as poised as Dalton. And the run-blocking was inconsistent at times (the team averaged around 3.2 Yards/Carry before Benson’s breakaway 39 yard TD).
- Andy Dalton’s throwing wrist was injured. Dalton left the game at the very end of the first half, when huge rookie Defensive Tackle Phil Taylor slammed into him after he released the ball on a high throw to AJ Green. Dalton’s wrist was pinned between his chest and Taylor’s facemask during the collison, causing an “forearm contusion”. Afterwards, Dalton couldn’t “grip the ball the way [he] wanted to” because he had lost a bit of feeling. He was also wincing notably during practice throws on the sideline. Dalton hopes to start against Denver next week. According to the Cincinnati Enquirers’ Joe Reedy, Dalton is likely to play against the Broncos this Sunday. Dalton may miss some practice time this week, but initial x-rays were negative and the injury isn’t severe.