20/28, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and a 105.5 Rating looks like a pretty good day at the office, but the numbers do not tell the whole picture. Up 14-0 with less than a minute left in the 1st quarter and this Bengals defense (2 Packers possessions, two 3 and outs), the game should be essentially over as long as the offense can simply protect the ball. Dalton did anything but. On 3rd and 7 with less than a minute left, Dalton threw a terrible pass along the sideline that was picked off at the Bengals 26, already in FG range.
The defense held the Packers to 3 yards and forced a FG. Then, after back-to-back drives ending with fumbles (1 returned for a TD), Dalton, on 3rd and 8, tried to stay alive in the pocket only to get the ball stripped at his own 25, resulting in a FG to cut the Bengals lead to 1 (14-13), completely wiping out a 14 point lead in just about 15 minutes, and transferring all momentum to the Packers.
Sep 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) warms up prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
10 carries for just 29 yards now gives BJGE 129 yards on 46 carries (2.8 ypc). While he does have 2 TDs, BJGE has for the most part, been very ineffective in 2013. And while you have to give Clay Matthews credit for one hell of a play, BJGE had a fumble on 3rd and 1 that was returned for a TD and really swung the game to GB. For a guy who “never fumbles,” BJGE now has 4 fumbles in 18 games as a Bengal.
As I said last week, I hate “Blame the Refs” guy, but these refs were terrible again. The personal flag on Reggie Nelson was not only a terrible call, it was a textbook hit and is exactly what the NFL is asking defensive players to do. Shoulder to shoulder hit. What was worse, the penalty came on a 3rd down where the Bengals had stopped the Packers.
Instead, the drive was extended and the Packers capitalized with a TD – a call that could have easily lost the Bengals the game. Is there any player who has been penalized more for textbook hits than Reggie Nelson (remember the hit on Dez Bryant last year)? I would not want to be a defensive player in the NFL today – I understand the need for safety, but it is getting to the point where defensive players cannot hit a guy without being flagged and/or fined.
The Run Defense
Given the game plan of the Bengals was certainly to focus on Rodgers and force GB to try and win with the run, I am not overly concerned about the 182 yards surrendered on the ground. Emphasis on “overly.” I still do not like that a team with a weak O-Line and a 3rd string rookie RB racked up 182 yards on the ground.
While some of the pressure on Dalton is a result of Dalton holding the ball too long, 4 sacks is too many, and often times, Dalton did not have a clean pocket to throw from.
AJ Green Breaking up INTs
I love AJ Green and no one is better at making amazing catches than AJ Green. There is also no one worse at breaking up INTs than Green. All 3 of Dalton’s INTs have come on throws to Green. One was a perfect throw that Green dropped, the other 2 were poor throws by Dalton – however, both INTs could have been prevented with a little effort from Green. When Green sees a bad throw that could be picked, he has to become a DB and do anything possible to prevent the INT. An offensive PI is much better than a pick. The INT on Sunday was Dalton’s fault, but AJ Green could have, and has to, break that pass up.