With the Bengals trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, Cincinnati drove into Washington territory but settled at the Skins’ 33-yard line. Placekicker Mike Nugent came on for a 51-yard field goal but hooked the kick wide left. The score remained the same heading into halftime.
Cincinnati opened the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by Tyler Eifert‘s first touchdown of the season. However, Nugent was unsuccessful on his point-after attempt, once again missing left. The extra point came back to haunt the Bengals, as it was the difference in the 27-27 final.
Here’s why I give Nugent the benefit of the doubt: His field goal misfire was from 51 yards out. Three of his five misses this season have been from over 50 yards. No one advocated the Bengals needing a new kicker when Nugent hit the game-winner against the Jets in week one, hit all three of his attempts in Pittsburgh and went five for five in the TNF win over Miami in Week 4.
It hurts me to write this. You won’t find a bigger Andy Dalton fan than myself. I backed the Red Rifle after his worst statistical season in 2014. However, crucial mistakes by Dalton were key factors in what should have been a loss.
First the interception, Dalton’s first since in a career-high 165 pass attempts. The Bengals led by three and drove deep into Washington territory at the conclusion of the third quarter. On second down from the Redskins’ 20, a corner blitz pressured Dalton into an awful overthrow beyond the head of his Pro Bowl tight end that fluttered into the hands of Will Compton.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Bengals retained possession with another three-point advantage, needing to run off the final five minutes and change to leave London victorious. Dalton picked up a key first down with his legs but missed AJ Green twice on the next set of downs. A conversion on either of those throws would have forced Washington to use timeouts or waste precious clock.
Finally, in overtime, Dalton’s fumble on a quarterback sneak — his first lost fumble since Nov. 2015 — ended any chance of Cincinnati winning the game.
Dalton’s passer rating was 81.8, second lowest this season (Week 3 vs. Denver). However, he still tallied his fourth consecutive multi-touchdown game.
1.) Paul Guenther and the entire defense
Yep, it was a collective performance of mediocrity by the Bengals’ defense on Sunday. The defensive line tallied just one sack, belonging to Geno Atkins. Kirk Cousins had all day to throw to wide-open receivers. By the time the game concluded in a draw, Cousins posted a career-high 458 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Furthermore, the defense against the opposing tight ends was once again putrid. Cousins completed 14 of 18 targets to Vernon Davis and Reed for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Paul Guenther’s defense is now ranked 28th overall after giving up 546 total yards against Washington.
Usually, 27 points would be more than enough to win a game. Since Guenther took over defensive coordinator duties, the Bengals were 19-1-1 when scoring at least 24 points, with the lone loss coming to Arizona last season.
The Bengals are a long way off from 2015 when the defense led the league in scoring.
Cincinnati has awhile to make the necessary changes. They have a bye week, followed by a second trip this season to MetLife stadium on Monday, Nov. 14th, this time to face the New York Giants. Hopefully, any upgrades will get them going.