Terence Newman has played in 164 NFL games and had never seen a “Hail Mary” finish like Sunday’s game in Baltimore.
“That’s definitely a first for me,” Newman told me. “To be able to get a touchdown on a last-second play to go into overtime? I’ve never seen that before live. You see it in high school and videos and whatnot, but that’s a first for me for sure.”
And yet, it’s starting to feel like the norm for the 2013 Bengals. Their last four road games have ended on three walk-off field goals and one Cameron Wake-off safety.
“There are no moral victories, but this team has a lot of fight,” said Newman.
The Bengals have proven that they can – and will – battle from behind. They rallied from 16 down in the second half to beat Green Bay, 14 down in the second half to force overtime in Miami, and 17 down in the second half to force OT in Baltimore. The obvious problem is digging such gigantic holes to begin with.
“We’ve got to play smarter so that we don’t get ourselves in this situation,” said Marvin Lewis.
Cutting down on penalties would be a good place to start. In the first half in Baltimore, the Bengals had more penalty yards (114) than offensive yards (102)…I bet that’s another thing that Terence Newman had never seen before. And while the defense played well enough to win, the offense failed to score a touchdown in the first half and was maddeningly inconsistent for the second straight game.
“We didn’t make enough plays,” said A.J. Green. “We had a couple of turnovers that really hurt us.”
“We just couldn’t make the plays when we had the ball,” said Chris Crocker. “What can you say? I mean honestly. It ain’t for a lack of trying. We fought our butts off. You win and you lose as a team. There’s no other way to put it.”
There’s also no other way to put this: Andy Dalton has to stop throwing the ball to the other team. After a magnificent four-game stretch where he threw 11 TD passes and only 3 INT for a passer rating of 116.8, Dalton has thrown 2 TD passes and 6 INT in his last two games for a passer rating of 53.8. As a result, there are only two quarterbacks that have thrown more interceptions this season than Dalton (13): Carson Palmer (15) and Eli Manning (16).
“We thought he played inconsistent,” said Coach Lewis. “We thought he had some marvelous plays with some great audibles and great checks and some things that way. But there were a couple of things that we wish he could have done a little bit better. And guys have to do better for him too.
“He’ll continue to play better, and we put the pressure on him always to play better. He is the offense and he runs the offense so when we’re going good, he gets all the credit. If we’re not as good as we should be, it’s us that needs to be fixed. But he had some plays that he could have done better like everybody did – including the head coach.”
After back-to-back overtime losses, you can’t help but think of how close the Bengals are to being 8-2. Fortunately, 6-4 is still good enough for a 1 ½ game lead in the AFC North with four of the last six games at home. The Bengals remaining six opponents are a combined 23-31 and the only team left on the schedule that currently has a winning record is Indianapolis at 6-3.
“We need to be better,” said Lewis. “We pushed things forward very positively and now we’ve dug a little bit of a hole. We have to climb out and play better this week against the Browns.”
It was fun to have a crew from NFL Films in the booth on Sunday. They’re doing a feature on my partner and pal Dave Lapham for an upcoming show about the draft class of 1974. Some well-deserved publicity for a great person, broadcaster, and friend. Who Dey!
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
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