For the first time since 2010, the Bengals will not be playing on Wild Card weekend. Here are some telling numbers that explain why.
53.1%: The Bengals’ red zone efficiency this season. Which ranked 21st in the NFL.
Red zone struggles were evident for the Bengals all season long. Although they finished 21st in the NFL, they were dead last in the category in mid-October. In a 24-16 loss to Pittsburgh in Week 2, the Bengals failed to come away with touchdowns on all three of their drives inside the Steelers’ 20. They were forced to settle for three Mike Nugent field goals and it came back to cost them as Ben Roethlisberger tossed three touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line.
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Two weeks later, the Bengals dominated the Dolphins, 22-7. However, the offense once again left points on the board. After A.J. Green‘s seven-yard touchdown catch, Cincinnati settled for a pair of 22-yarders by Nugent and a game that should have been a 30-point blowout wasn’t sealed until Jarvis Landry‘s fourth-down drop on the first play after the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
In 2015, the Bengals ranked sixth in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage (65%).
41: Number of times Andy Dalton was sacked this season.
The Bengals gave up 41 sacks on Dalton this season. The same number they allowed on the Red Rifle from 2014 & ’15 combined. He finished in a three-way tie with Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson for second-most sacks in the NFL as the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor dubiously led the category with 42.
The offensive line woes were in full force in the season-opener. Dalton was sacked a career-high seven times by the Jets but still rallied the offense to a late field goal to win the game, 23-22.
The Bengals’ front five also had a bad habit of allowing sacks at crucial moments. Cincinnati held a four-point lead in the third quarter against New England, but Dont’a Hightower sacked Dalton for a safety to make it 14-12. The Patriots would go on a 23-3 run to end the game.
Two weeks later in London, Cincinnati drove to the Washington 40-yard line in overtime. Needing just one more positive play to either keep the drive alive or attempt a long field goal, Dalton was sacked by Ryan Kerrigan, forcing a punt. The Bengals wouldn’t reach Redskins’ territory for the rest of the overtime period.
And the biggest sack of the season occurred on a trip to Baltimore. Without Green and Giovani Bernard for the first time, the Bengals hung tough with the division-leading Ravens. Trailing by seven, the offense drove to the Baltimore 16 with 1:12 left before Elvis Dumervil‘s strip-sack sealed another close loss.
16: Amount of points the Bengals’ final five losses were decided by.
@ NYG: L 21-20
vs. BUF: L 16-12
@ BAL: L 19-14
vs. PIT: L 24-20
@ HOU: L 12-10
Want a reason to be optimistic for 2017? The Bengals did not lose nine games by getting blown out. Their two worst losses were at the hands of the Cowboys and Patriots, the top seeds in their respective conference.
Adding in the 27-27 tie with Washington, the last six games the Bengals didn’t win were decided by just 16 points. That’s not a big difference from going 6-10 and having a top-10 draft pick or finishing 10-6 and being right in the playoff mix.
Same was the case the last time Cincinnati missed the playoffs. The 2010 Bengals started 2-1 but ended up losing eight games decided by one possession. They rebounded by drafting Green with the fourth overall pick, Dalton with the 35th, and going on a five-year postseason streak.
2: Number of games both Tyler Eifert and A.J Green were healthy for.
(* Real number is three. But this not counting Eifert’s season-debut against Cleveland when he only played a handful of snaps and caught just one pass)
Taking out the Browns game, Eifert and Green were only 100 percent against the Redskins and Giants. How important is this? Well, look at the numbers.
In those two games combined, the duo combined for 28 catches for 387 yards and two touchdowns. They both went over 100 yards against Washington, while Green hauled in a touchdown in the loss to the Giants, two plays after Eifert caught the longest pass of his career (71 yards).
After Green’s season-ending hamstring injury that caused him to fall 36 yards shy of 1,000, the Bengals had just one 100-yard receiver (Brandon LaFell, week 16) for the rest of the season.