The NFL season is just over two weeks old, but the Cincinnati Bengals are already entering crisis mode.
The team entered Thursday night’s home game against the Houston Texans with a decent shot at winning, but for the second consecutive week, the Cincinnati offence was lifeless. Quarterback Andy Dalton completed just 57 per cent of his passes for a 76.4 rating, failing to make the most of superstar wide receiver A.J. Green. A porous offensive line didn’t help matters and the ground game, led by rookie Joe Mixon and his 36 yards, wasn’t much better.
The Texans also struggled to score, but rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson showed flashes of brilliance throughout the game, breaking away for an unlikely 49-yard touchdown run near the end of the second quarter. That touchdown, the only one of the game, wound up deciding the game, as the Texans took it by a score of 13-9.
As if falling to a quarterback making his first career start weren’t dejecting enough, the Cincinnati’s offensive struggles have landed it in the NFL history books. With the loss, the Bengals became the first team to kick off a season with two home games and fail to score a touchdown in either one since the 1939 Philadelphia Eagles, who finished that year with a 1-9-1 record.
Reactions were varied, but cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick may have described the team’s mood the best: “We suck.”
That’s a harsh take, but the Bengals’ struggles have been glaring. With 516 total yards through two games, they rank second in the NFL — ahead of the Texans, but behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who amassed 537 yards in their lone game against New England. By the end of Sunday, Cincinnati’s total should sit well outside of the top 25.
But even with the yardage issues, the Bengals were just one touchdown away from pulling out a victory. Speaking to reporters after the game, Green asserted his belief that he wasn’t given enough opportunities to help the team.
“We are playing like s— right now,” he said. “We got to find a way to get our playmakers the ball. That’s it. It’s a superstar-driven league. You are not going to win without them….Being one of the leaders of the offence I feel like — no disrespect to nobody else — that ball should be mine somewhere somehow.”
Those comments could be seen as a dig at the quarterback, but head coach Marvin Lewis stood by Dalton after the game.
“No, I don’t think he’s taken a step back,” he said. “I think we have to continue to let Andy do his thing.”
The Bengals’ core may be intact for now, but if they continue to struggle, changes could be on the way. The team’s next game is set for Sunday, September 24, when they will face the formidable Green Bay Packers.
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