The Cincinnati Bengals dropped their season opener for the second straight year, falling 24-3 to the Cleveland Browns, who now begin another potential win streak against the Stripes. This game was as frustrating as last year's season opener but the good news is that it's only one game. There are still 16 games remaining for the team to turn things around and they will turn things around.
Let's take a look at some takeaways from the ugly double-digit loss.
Offense didn't show up
If you saw that the Bengals only scored three points, you'd probably assume that Joe Burrow wasn't playing or that several key playmakers went down at some point. Well, Burrow played for nearly the entire game but the offense was just lifeless. They were so bad that Jake Browning got in on the action late in the fourth quarter when the team was down by three touchdowns.
The weather could be blamed for some of the struggles, especially in the first half, but the Browns eventually figured out a way to score points so why couldn't the Bengals?
Joe Burrow wasn't his usual self and failed to connect with Tee Higgins during the entire game despite multiple attempts. The run game couldn't get anything going. The offensive line was shaky. It was just an overall poor performance from the offense. Not playing a single snap in the preseason obviously meant this unit had some rust but this can't be the standard moving forward.
Defense did their part
If there was one bright spot for the Bengals in this game, it was their defense. They played about as well as they could until they gassed out late in the game. They held the Browns to just three points at the half and continued to be a bend, but not break unit until the final quarter when Deshaun Watson connected with Harrison Bryant to ice the game.
The pass rush sacked Watson three times and forced multiple turnovers but with their offense not showing up, they were asked to do too much. Eventually, they cracked and the Browns were able to put the game away.
Special teams not so special
Aside from an Evan McPherson field goal in the third quarter, the special teams was garbage. Rookie Brad Robbins struggled mightily in his first-ever NFL start and frequently put the Bengals in a bad spot with field position. He'll get better but this was not the kind of performance the Bengals wanted to see from a guy they spent a draft pick on.
At the end of the day, this is just one game out of a possible 20 games. The Cincinnati Bengals will flush this game down the toilet and figure out a different game plan for when they host the Ravens next week.
They had a tough game right out of the gates against a team who has had their number and the Browns once again proved that's still the case. Fortunately, not every game is against the Browns. The Bengals will get past this, but yes, this was a frustrating loss.