Will Bengals’ Week 1 meltdown be the new standard?

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals sits on the sideline during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cincinnati 20-0. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals sits on the sideline during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baltimore defeated Cincinnati 20-0. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Week 1 is in the books. The Bengals’ home opener mercifully ended before there were tons of injuries. But, the biggest injury was to their pride.

This was not the result that fans needed to witness. As I watched the insanity at Paul Brown Stadium, my first thought was to pinch myself. It was indeed the Bengals home opener and it was also–to coin a phrase–hot garbage. My sincerest apologies for the knee-jerk reaction. But, sometimes, being polite will get you in worse trouble. There are times when honesty is truly the best policy to follow. The Bengals’ 20-0 loss to Baltimore was an exercise in frustration that brought back horrible memories.  

Besides from a few bright moments that showed promise from a few players, what the Bengals gave fans was a blast from the past. As the embarrassing action plodded along, flashbacks to the Dark Ages quickly popped up. Now, before you get an attitude and talk about how good things have been for the guys in Stripes, we’re on the same page.

Things have been really “swell” for the Bengals franchise. But, this was like a game from the 1990s. This was a shot to the gut that Who Dey Nation wasn’t expecting. The consensus is that the Lost Decade was over. However, Sunday’s meltdown is a scary reminder that things could get worse.

So…What Happened? 

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The Bengals played a Ravens team that was hurting. But, they were also motivated to win. Baltimore hadn’t posted a win in Cincinnati since the 2011 season. Yet, the 20-0 bludgeoning that they delivered was enough to erase any thoughts of a Bengals’ edge in the rivalry.

For the love of Sam Wyche and Boomer Esiason, what is going on with Andy Dalton? Either he’s doing a Pete Rose or he’s not the quarterback most fans thought he was. The argument has always been slanted towards him being an average quarterback. But, after his less than journeyman performance, there are a ton of things that seem wrong. His delivery is low, he’s overthrowing targets, he seems hesitant to leave the pocket…the list goes on. If this is the same Dalton that burned up the NFL in 2015, it’s time to get serious. The L’s count now.

Honestly, this wasn’t all on Dalton. The whole team looked unprepared for what was happening. It’s the age-old question. Were the Bengals that bad or are the Ravens that good? Frankly, the Ravens came in hurting. Joe Flacco wasn’t spectacular. He finished the game with a 71.0 rating, a TD and one interception. So, what did the Ravens do to overcome the home team? They ran the ball. Baltimore exploited a defense that looked…lost. After an encouraging dress rehearsal, the defense looked pedestrian at times.

Once again, the running game seems to be the weak point of this Bengals defense. The unit ended the 2016 campaign in the No. 21 spot. After surrendering 157 yards to a team that’s “committed” to making the running game work, they are on pace to be in the lower half of the league.

Where Do They Go From Here?

It’s really hard to get a gauge on this team. The defense played well but got put into bad situations. That was the M.O. of the bad Bengals’ teams of the past. The offense showed flashes of promise and then they stalled due to turnovers. If Marvin Lewis is coaching to save his job, this was not the way to start the season.

Next: What Really Happened With Dalton?

We’ll get the same lines, the same old excuses and what we’re used to hearing. Essentially. Baltimore came in and got the job done. This is a do-or-die year for the Bengals. But, what was put on the field Sunday wasn’t professional football. It was a cry for help. Primetime is waiting for the Bengals. A Thursday night matchup with the Texans. If Dalton plays like he did during the day, a night game will be a dagger to the heart. 

In essence, it’s Week 1. But Week 2 is just four days away. And things ain’t lookin’ good.

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