When Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden intercepted an Andy Dalton pass in the first quarter Sunday and returned the ball to the Cincinnati 14-yard line, the Bengals defense came on and held the Browns to a field goal.
It was a small victory, and the continuation of a big trend.
Cincinnati has committed 19 turnovers in the last 10 games, three of which were returned for touchdowns.
In the 16 cases when the opposing offense took possession of the ball, the Bengals defense prevented them from scoring a touchdown all but once. And 12 of those 16 opponent possessions began in Bengals territory.
“You just try to keep everyone pumped up,” defensive end Michael Johnson said of the quick change of possession situations. “It’s just another opportunity for us to go out and do our jobs and show how good we can be.”
In addition to the lone touchdown — which came in Baltimore two weeks ago when the Ravens started at the Cincinnati 11 following a Dalton interception — the Bengals defense has allowed four field goals following turnovers. But all four came after the defense held an opponent with great field position to a three-and-out.
In all, the Bengals have forced a three-and-out following 12 of the last 16 turnovers.
Asked if he’s ever seen a defense do a better job of thwarting the opponent following sudden changes, head coach Marvin Lewis offered praise that was less than glowing despite the stats.
“I’ve seen better,” he said. “That’s their job.”
Chicago converted two Bengals turnovers into touchdowns in the season opener, but since then the defense has been at its best when needed most.
Howard killed: Multiple media outlets reported Monday that former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Thomas Howard died in a car accident near his home in Alameda, Calif.
According to KRON-TV, Howard was driving a BMW at more than 100 miles per hour on Interstate 880 when he clipped the back of a semi and went airborne across the median into oncoming traffic. In addition to Howard, the 55-year-old male driver of the vehicle impacted by the BMW also died.
Howard began his career with the Oakland Raiders in 2006. He signed with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent on July 30, 2011. In two seasons with the Bengals, Howard played in 16 games and led the team with 120 tackles in 2011.
After playing in the season opener last year, Howard suffered a season-ending ACL injury and was placed on injured reserve.
A free agent heading into the 2013 season, Howard had a tryout with the Bengals prior to the season opener, but he eventually signed with Atlanta on Oct. 22. The Falcons released him Nov. 12.
Donaldson dies: Former Bengals assistant coach Jack Donaldson passed away Saturday at the age of 86.
Hired by Paul Brown, Donaldson was a member of the original Bengals staff as defensive line coach in 1968. He spent the next nine years as running backs coach.
“Jack was an outstanding coach,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “He aided the development of running backs that our longtime fans remember well — Paul Robinson, Jess Phillips, Essex Johnson, Lenvil Elliott, Boobie Clark and Archie Griffin. He was greatly respected by my father, as well as by myself, and we are saddened by this news and send our condolences to Jack’s family.”