Bengals’ Winners and Losers vs. Titans

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Sep 21, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson (20) makes an interception in the end zone against Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (not pictured) during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Defense and Its Response to Turnovers

Over the off-season I wrote a piece which addressed the Bengals defense’s response to turnovers.  Last year, they responded extraordinarily well to turnovers, especially in their half of the field, by often keeping teams out of the endzone and off the scoreboard; yesterday was no different.

The Bengals first turnover of the year occurred at their own 22 yard line with 44 seconds on the clock in the first half and the Titans had three timeouts; they had plenty of time to score.  After two passes, Jake Locker threw a strike to the endzone intended for Nate Washington, which was intercepted by Bengals’ safety Reggie Nelson for a touchback.  The Bengals took a kneel and the half ended with no points for the Titans.

It’s the type of play that reverses momentum so quickly and really deflates an opponent.  The Bengals defense has made a habit of this.  If the Titans had scored there, they would’ve taken some momentum into the second half and would’ve only been down 19-7.  Instead, the Bengals defense built momentum after shutting out their opponent in the half and gave some momentum back to the offense, which was naturally disappointed following their first turnover–evidenced by their reaction following the play.

The Bengals defense is an incredibly talented group, which manages to get some recognition from NFL pundits that largely ignore the Bengals–or at least until they begin acting as people came to expect from them in the past.  The rest of the league and its media may not recognize this particular impact the Bengals’ defense has had, but we fans sure do.