Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running backJeremy Hill
(32) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals played a solid first half, yet haven’t been able to gain the lead thus far. The Bengals look like a different team than they were in Week Seven when they were shutout 27-0. But the questions continue to hover, can the Bengals overcome themselves?
The Bengals surrendered several big plays in the first half and were unable to apply the necessary pressure on Andrew Luck. This has allowed Luck to see the field well and execute several impressive deep throws. Frankly, had the Colts’ receivers secured a couple of other throws, this game may look a bit different.
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and Marvin Lewis must find some adjustments at the half to cut down on the amount of time Luck has. They are asking the corners to do to much. They will get burned as this game wears on if something doesn’t change.
On offense, the Bengals must find to “moving the chains” rather than seeking the big play. Time of possession will be key going forward as the Colts will want to give Luck extra chances to put points on the board. The Bengals must find a way to run the ball and keep the Colts’ defense loading the box. This will allow Andy Dalton more space to throw the ball. Dalton will need this space as the game wears on. He’s managed to avoid turnovers thus far, but if the Bengals fall behind, Dalton will be asked to do things he’s been incapable of historically.
Darqueze Dennard came up with this best play of the year when forcing a big fumble. Mike Nugent hit a career long field goal after historically struggling from distance. Now, Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff must make the necessary halftime adjustments; something they’ve struggled with as a staff. If they can come up with their “best play of the year,” it’s feasible the Bengals bring home a playoff win. If not, then it could be a long second half. Let’s go Bengals!