Injuries and strife plague Bengals' defense as Burrow stars

October 26, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals defense is in disarray, on the field and off.

Multiple injuries to key personnel and an inability to shut the door on teams are glaring reasons the Bengals keep losing close games and are stuck at 1-5-1 as another dismal season approaches the midway point.

Internal strife hasn't helped. Aging sack specialists Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap — who will make about $25 million between them this season — are unhappy with their reduced roles in coordinator Lou Anarumo's defense. Both were in for just a dozen snaps each in Sunday's loss to the Browns.

Dunlap argued with Anarumo on the sideline, and after the game, while his teammates were facing reporters on Zoom, took to Twitter to announce he was ,, presumably because he expects to be traded. Other defensive players also have used social media to express displeasure about the way things are going.

“We just handle that internally,” coach Zac Taylor said. “We got a group of guys in the locker room who want so badly to do things the right way and get this to where we want to be.”

Cincinnati spent big in the free agent market, signing six big-time defensive players to help shore up the unit, including a four-year, $53 million deal for defensive tackle D.J. Reader. He was lost for the season with a quad injury in the Oct. 11 loss to the Ravens. Cornerback Trae Waynes (pectoral), who got a three-year, $42 million deal, also is out for the season.

Also missing is reliable defensive end Sam Hubbard (elbow). Atkins missed the first four games with a shoulder injury and has played sparingly since. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels played in the loss to Browns after missing several weeks with an elbow injury.

Starting cornerback William Jackson III was out with a concussion Sunday as Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield picked apart the Cincinnati secondary and threw a touchdown pass to win the game with 15 seconds left. He wasn't sacked in the game.


Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has revitalized Cincinnati's passing game and given the franchise hope for the future. Against the Browns he threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, only to be outdueled by Mayfield. It was his fifth game with 300 or more yards passing. The Bengals reached the red zone on seven drives, tying the franchise record since the NFL began tracking drive stats in 2000.


Everything on defense. Cincinnati has yielded 194 points in seven games.


Burrow is spreading the ball efficiently. Against Cleveland, Tyler Boyd, his top target, made 11 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Veteran A.J. Green had seven receptions for 82 yards, and Tee Higgins added five for 71 yards and a score. Giovani Bernard, replacing the injured Joe Mixon at running back, caught five for 59 yards and a score.


The running game without Mixon, who has a foot injury and whose status is uncertain for the near future. Bernard gained just 37 yards on 13 carries against Cleveland.


The offensive line has been a weak spot that Burrow has learned to work around. Then center Trey Hopkins (concussion), left tackle Jonah Williams (neck) and right tackle Bobby Hart (knee) left the Browns game with injuries at various points and didn’t return.


5 — games decided by five points or less in the first seven.


The Bengals are not going to get a break any time soon. After they host the Titans (5-1) this week, they travel to Pittsburgh to play the surging Steelers, currently the league's only unbeaten team at 6-0.


More AP NFL: and


Follow Mitch Stacy at

share story

UFC 257 postfight analysis, breakdown: Patient Poirier gets his revenge A big night of fights ends with a stunning TKO. SN breaks down all the action.
Basu: It feels weird, but it's OK to accept the obvious — the Canadiens are good What the Montreal Canadiens have shown in going 4-0-2 on a season-opening road trip seems like more than a hot streak.
Bills' 5 most important players vs. KC in AFC title game Bills and Chiefs play Sunday night with winner earning spot in Super Bowl.
Continues offensive success Curry posted 24 points (9-18 FG, 5-10 3PT, 1-2 FT), seven rebounds and seven assists in the 127-108 loss to Utah on Saturday.
Impact Curry once again shined in the loss Saturday. The guard rarely lets his fanbase down and surely did not in this contest. Not only did he achieve double-digit points through a rough night, but he also managed to do his fair share of work in the paint. Curry is not known for his rebound skills, but every once in awhile he adds that to his plate of success. Nonetheless, he is matchup proof and will always be viable.