Bengals defense not pleased with second half play
CINCINNATI – There was no mandatory team film study for the Bengals on Monday. Adam Jones was thankful. He and rest of the Bengals defense will see – and hear about – enough of Sunday’s second half against Indianapolis on Wednesday when the players convene with coordinator Mike Zimmer and their position coaches.
The Bengals beat the Colts, 42-28, and took another step toward winning their first AFC North title since 2009, but the second half made none of the defensive players proud. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 230 yards and four touchdown passes in the third and fourth quarters after the Bengals had shutout the Colts on just 117 yards in the first half.
“We didn’t play good in the second half. It wasn’t anything that he did,” said Jones. “We left a couple of plays out there. We’ll get back in here Wednesday, figure it out and learn from our mistakes but it wasn’t nothing Luck did. It was all us.
“It’s good when you win by 14 or 21 points. You can go back and fix those mistakes and it wasn’t a loss. We’ll get it together and fix it for the next week.”
The Bengals suffered two more injuries to secondary members; safety George Iloka left the game in the third quarter with a hit to the head and cornerback Terence Newman injured his left knee in the fourth quarter when he collided with safety Chris Crocker attempting to cover LaVon Brazill on a 29-yard touchdown pass.
Injuries weren’t the issue against the Colts.
Missed tackles accounted for much of the yardage and points Indianapolis put up in the second half. Da’Rick Rogers broke tackles against Jones and safety Reggie Nelson on a short route that ended up being a 69-yard touchdown and the first points for Indianapolis. Brazill broke six tackles on a 19-yard touchdown that began as a simple crossing route.
Those were the only two passes Luck completed in six attempts in the third quarter. He was 17-of-20 in the fourth quarter when the Bengals twice had 21-point leads; 35-14 and 42-21.
Regardless of the circumstances, Luck became just the second 300-yard passer against the Bengals this season and he is the first quarterback to throw for four touchdowns against them since Ryan Fitzpatrick did it for Buffalo on Nov. 21, 2010, in a 49-31 Bills win.
“We played good on third down but our execution all the way around was not up to the standard that we feel good about,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “We had a couple plays where we didn’t tackle very well and we have to continue to work and tackle better and be consistent. We haven’t had that show up before. We’ve got to do a better job of that and getting the receiver, ball carrier, whatever on the ground. Our rush lanes – we didn’t rush the quarterback in general real well.”
The Bengals didn’t have any sacks against Luck, who had been sacked 29 times coming into the game. It was just the third time this season they failed to register a sack in a game (they have had at least two sacks in the other 10 games) and broke a streak of five games with a sack.
They got some pressure and a few hits on Luck, No. 1 overall pick from the 2012 draft, in the first half as he was limited to 10-of-20 passing for 96 yards but things were different in the second half.
The Colts ran for just 63 yards on 12 attempts, one of which was a 29-yard scramble by Luck. The Bengals also only allowed the Colts to convert two of their 10 third-down attempts for the game. Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee had seven kicks in the game, his second-highest total in a game this season.
“Our plan was to just make them a one-dimensional team. We came out and did a good job in the first half,” said linebacker Rey Maualuga. “In the second half, we kind of slid away from what our main focus was and if we’d have lost the game it would have been the defense’s fault. Hats off to our offense. They came out and moved the ball down field and put points on the board. It’s our job to go out there and get the back to our offense.”
That’s something the defense has consistently done this season. It’s just the sixth time an opponent has scored more than 20 points against the Bengals this season and only Green Bay (30) has scored more. The Packers scored 13 points off of four turnovers in that game, including a fumble recovery return for touchdown.
Ranked No. 8 in total yards allowed defensively and No. 6 in points allowed, only Detroit has put up substantial numbers against the Bengals this season.
“I know our defense. They’re kind of upset they gave up 28 points. Especially in the second half, so I kind of let them live on that one,” said running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “Our defense will be okay. If we score 42 and they score 35, we win. But in a perfect world, we know they don’t want to give up that many points.”
Iloka remained under the NFL’s concussion protocol program on Monday, making him off-limits to media questions. Indications are, however, that he could be cleared to practice later this week as the Bengals prepare to travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers Sunday night.
Newman is another story. He was walking through the Paul Brown Stadium locker room on Monday wearing a knee brace on his left leg. There have been multiple media reports that Newman suffered a sprain medial collateral ligament and will miss one-to-three weeks with the injury. Dre Kirkpatrick would get the first shot at replacing Newman.
Kirkpatrick played on 25 defensive snaps and 19 more on special teams according to Sunday’s official stats.
“He’s been waiting for this opportunity so I hope he can make the most of it and just run with it,” said Jones. “When you’re starting you’ve got to do a lot more studying. It’s not like you’re just playing a couple of more plays. It’s different when you’re out there the whole game. I’ll be on him. We can’t let down in the back end. We’re playing too good right now to have any lagging in the back end. I’m quite sure the coaches are going to make sure he’s ready. I’m eager for the challenge for Kirk. I think he’s ready.”