The Bengals did not continue their winning ways in Carolina in Week 3, dropping by double digits to a strong Panthers team.
The Bengals’ hot start to the season was slowed today by the Carolina Panthers, who ran over this defense en route to a 31-21 win. The stars of the Panthers’ offense were Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey, who created a rushing duo too powerful to slow down. There were some individually good performances from the Bengals, but they weren’t enough to overcome an early deficit.
The Panthers kept the Bengals at arm’s length the entire game, with the team never really having a chance to take the lead. After jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead, a flurry of touchdowns to end the first half gave the Panthers a 21-14 lead. After trading touchdowns to end the third quarter, the Panthers iced away their 7 point lead and secured a 31-21 victory.
The brunt of the blame for the loss may fall on the offense – specifically the multiple turnovers. Andy Dalton threw four interceptions (although the one at the end of the game doesn’t really count), which killed many of the Bengals’ potentially game-tying drives. Dalton also had to throw a lot, passing 46 times for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The difference in the running game was the big difference in this game. McCaffrey was an absolute stud, picking up 186 yards on the ground. Giovani Bernard didn’t get that level of workload, only getting 12 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. Bernard had a solid game, but he wasn’t a game changer.
On defense, the Bengals ceded 31 points, so there were some flaws on that end. The lack of pressure on Newton all game allowed the Panthers’ offense to unfold and develop fully. Carlos Dunlap had the team’s only sack. The Bengals also did not force a turnover, which put them behind the 8-ball. A strong performance, though, came from Nick Vigil, who racked up another 12 tackles.
Overall, this was a letdown from a team trying to get to 3-0. However, losses were bound to come this season, and the Bengals will still be leading the division heading into Week 4.