Enquirer beat writers Paul Dehner Jr. and Fletcher Page break down the Bengals 51-14 loss to the Saints.
Sam Greene, [email protected]

Handing out a game ball, play of the game, tweet of the game, three up, three down, best photo, three key numbers and the song of the day from the Saints’ blowout.

Save talk about injuries for somebody who cares. Talk all you want about missing a trio of starters on defense or A.J. Green watching under a camo hoodie from the sideline. 

You can even save excuses about the immeasurable talent of Drew Brees and the Saints’ dominance of the league during their eight-game win streak. 

There are no excuses for what the Bengals put forth at home on Sunday. 

When you spend an offseason preaching “win now,” there is no scenario where any of this is acceptable. 

A team sitting 5-3 and talking about playoff aspirations just tied for the worst loss in 51 years of this franchise, 51-14. 

They didn’t keep New Orleans from scoring on a single drive. Nine for nine and a knee to run out the clock on the 10th.

That’s possible? 

They gave up at least 500 yards for the third straight game, 509 was the number today.

That’s the first time it’s happened in the Super Bowl Era of this league. 

“It’s frustrating, man, I just hate losing,” Shawn Williams vented after the game.”I hate losing the way we are losing giving up 500 f—— yards every week. We got to figure out what we got to do to fix it.”

With two weeks to figure out what has gone wrong defensively, this group offered up a showing somehow worse than any in the first half of the season which was already on pace to be one of the worst in the history of this league. 

They did it at home.

In their house. 

In front of their increasingly disenchanted fan base.

They were completely uncompetitive and reminded everyone watching – most of which left after halftime – how far this franchise is from being within shouting distance of the best teams in this league. 

We learned this fact for the first time in Kansas City. It is painfully obvious after Sunday’s stinker straight out of the Dave Shula Era. 

“I don’t even know how many points they put up, I wasn’t even looking at the scoreboard,” William Jackson III said. “I know it was quite a bit. We just have to get back to us and have fun and make plays and get turnovers.”

It’s fair to wonder the fallout. This went so far beyond a bad loss, how does a team mentally reconstruct itself going into a critical AFC North matchup with the Ravens next week or even the rest of this year without shattered confidence?

“Obviously your confidence gets shaken,” Marvin Lewis said. “I just addressed that with them. They have to focus and get determined.”

Would Lewis make a midseason change on the defensive staff? Even though it happened last year at OC with Ken Zampese, a coordinator change would be out of their nature.

But this was bad enough you have to wonder. 

“We all need to do our jobs better,” Michael Johnson said. “That’s all you can do. Everyone has to be real critical of themselves and be better.”

Game ball

Joe Mixon. His opportunities were limited as the game spiraled out of control so fast thanks to the awful showing by the defense, but he offered a spark the Bengals needed more of against the Saints. 

He finished with 11 rushes for 61 yards and two receptions for 24 yards. 

Play of the game

With the Bengals attempting to put together a drive just before halftime, Andy Dalton lofted a deep pass in the direction of John Ross. The receiver didn’t make much attempt to track down the pass thrown too far toward the center of the field. Then, Marcus Williams took it all the way from the Bengals end zone to the Cincinnati 17.

“Bad decision, bad throw,” Andy Dalton said. 

With eight seconds, the Saints didn’t settle for a field goal. Not against the putrid Bengals defense. Instead, Drew Brees connected with Michael Thomas for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

It was a demoralizing conclusion to one of the worst defensive halves in Bengals history. It stole any potential drama that could exist for the second half out of this one.


Cincinnati Bengals cornerback William Jackson III spoke to reporters after a 51-14 drubbing against the New Orleans Saints
Paul Dehner Jr. and Adam Baum, Cincinnati Enquirer



Dre Kirkpatrick was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter.

One up

Red zone play design. Bill Lazor continues to flex his muscle in this category where the Bengals lead the league. He ran John Ross across the back of the end zone who was able to use his speed and explosion to track open off the play action for the easy 2-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Under further review

Our guy Kareem Elgazzar with the angle television didn’t have and the replay booth needed on the first touchdown of the day by Michael Thomas. Looks like the bll touches the ground, but it was not overturned upon review.

Head of officiating Al Riveron weighed in on the situation.

Five down

Jordan Evans. The Bengals linebacker fell trying to avoid a rub route against Mark Ingram to allow a 27-yard reception to open the Saints’ second touchdown drive. Then, he was victimized with a demoralizing pancake by New Orleans guard Andrus Peat to blow open a 28-yard touchdown screen pass to Ingram to close the drive.

Matt Lengel. With Marvin Lewis opting to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 40, Lengel committed a false start to force the decision to punt. In a game of possessions worth their weight in gold, it was an awful mistake from the tight end.

“That’s tough,” Dalton said. “You can’t have that happen. It think everybody understands that. We convert there, it could be a different game. But that’s just one play that we’ll go back and look at it.”

End of half defense. This stat is a staple of three downs. The Bengals allowed not one, but two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the second quarter. This marks the eighth time in nine games they have allowed points in the final two minutes of the first half and the 18th time in the last 25 games. Incredible.

“The offense needs us to do a better job,” Evans said. “It’s hard for the offense to win when we’re giving up 50 points. We have to do better.”

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) pushes in the the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter of the NFL Week 10 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New Orleans Saints at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The Saints led 35-7 at halftime.  (Photo: Sam Greene)

John Ross. The lack of effort on passes thrown his direction is noticeable and an ongoing problem. The interception by Marcus Williams was the prime example, but he also didn’t try to go after a deep ball in the third quarter that was nearly picked. This has followed him, most notably when he gave up on a deep pass in the fourth quarter against Carolina. 

Teryl Austin. With two weeks to prepare and try to figure out what is going wrong with the defense, the defensive coordinator’s group somehow looked worse than the historically poor first half of the season. 

Tweet of the game

As a Rocky IV lover, this always ranks among my favorite gifs. It was perfectly applied in the second quarter.

Personnel move

The Bengals opened up in a three-safety formation for the first time this year in an attempt to matchup better with New Orleans star running back Alvin Kamara. They pulled the tactic from Mike Zimmer and Minnesota, who saw some success in their 30-20 loss to the Saints.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel entered the game to run the zone read in place of Andy Dalton on the first drive. It was a taste of New Orleans’ own medicine as they have been employing quarterback Taysom Hill in that role all year. He also ran for a touchdown during garbage time on a zone read.


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