The Cincinnati Bengals knew that with a banged-up defense facing the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, there was a good chance they’d have to simply outscore the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
They barely outscored the Chiefs’ defense.
»PHOTOS: Bengals blasted by Chiefs
Andy Dalton was held to 148 yards passing with a touchdown and a pick-6, Joe Mixon managed 50 yards on the ground and the Cincinnati offense struggled to keep up with the high-flying Chiefs in what turned into a 45-10 rout finished off by the backups at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Yeah, that’s a good team. Everybody knows that they’ve been able to score points,” Dalton said. “When you don’t do that on your side of the ball it can turn into a game like it did.”
So much for the Chiefs bringing in the NFL’s worst defense.
Dalton was only sacked twice but was under constant duress, and the Bengals’ running game — which still has not produced a 100-yard rusher this season — went absolutely nowhere.
Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense piled up 551 yards in a dominant performance.
“It’s on everybody,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “The coaching staff has to do a great job of preparing. The (players) have to understand and make the adjustments, the execution — we knew that was going to be a big part of it. Communication, being alert, making the adjustments and so forth throughout the football game. We did a poor job of that. We’ve got to understand that we have opportunities.
“We had a lot of plays,” Lewis said, “where we’ve got to do better.”
Indeed, it’s been a miserable couple weeks for the Bengals (4-3), who were flying high after a shootout win over Atlanta and a solid win over Miami. Dalton and Co. was rolling on offense and a defense that had been suspect coming into the season was starting to round into shape.
Then came last week’s 28-21 loss in Pittsburgh, when the Bengals picked up a slew of injuries while watching Ben Roethlisberger find Antonio Brown to give the Steelers the winning touchdown.
That loss was competitive, but deflating.
Their defeat Sunday night? Downright embarrassing.
Making it sting even more was the fact that the Bengals, already without three key players due to injuries, watched three more playmakers go down. Emotional linebacker Vontaze Burfict limped off in the third quarter with a hip injury, speedy wide receiver John Ross went down with a groin injury and tight end Mason Schreck left with a knee injury.
Throw in injuries to running back Giovani Bernard, center Billy Price and tight end Tyler Kroft and perhaps it’s not so surprising the Bengals only managed 239 yards total offense against Kansas City.
Ron Parker capped the forgettable performance by reading Dalton’s eyes early in the second half, stepping in front of a pass and taking the interception back for a touchdown. The Chiefs had just scored to take a 31-7 lead, and the defensive score gave them two TDs in a span of 9 seconds.
“My guy kind of just stood up and blocked,” Parker said, “and I just had my eyes on the quarterback. I saw him just looking to the right, had my eyes on him and took me right to the ball.”
If only Dalton’s own targets were so productive.
A.J. Green had seven catches for 117 yards but failed to reach the end zone, and Tyler Boyd was shut out until the second half after two TD grabs against the Steelers. Mixon tried to give the offense a bit of balance, but the Bengals were in such a hole early that they had to air it out.
That didn’t work. Nothing really did.
“It’s just one game. We’ve got another one next week,” Dalton said. “As much as this one sucks, like I said, everything’s still right there. We’re in a great position. We’ve got to go take advantage of it.”