Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Monday he is going to start asking the league questions about why defensive backs are grabbing hold of his receivers without penalty.
It’s an issue media has been asking Bengals coaches about all season, but some no-calls potentially changed the outcome of Sunday’s 24-21 loss at Baltimore.
Bengals fans on social media were calling defensive pass interference on a third-down pass to Tyler Boyd late in the second quarter, and Cody Core also had to fight through some pulling on a fourth-and-3 pass he ended up dropping at the end of the game.
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“We’re getting some grabs in there in the passing game, and we’re not getting calls so we have to find a way to get through it,” Lewis said as part of his opening statement to begin his weekly Monday afternoon press conference. “(We’ve got to) run through it, set it differently, create space to get ourselves open, whatever we can do.”
When asked specifically if it seems to be an issue around the league or just with the Bengals, Lewis said, “I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to ask that question, because every week (it happens). But again, we can’t whine. We have to be proactive.”
Before his toe injury, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green especially was having to battle through defensive backs pulling on him during his routes, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seemed dumbfounded every time he was asked about it.
On Monday afternoon, he addressed it again but doesn’t know what else his receivers can do.
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“I think the officials are letting them grab down the field,” Lazor said. “It’s been the same all year; that’s what you’ve got to play through. They’re going to grab your jersey and their judgment is whether it was enough to throw a flag and restrict you. That’s kind of how the officials are calling it this year. It looked a little more like college out there.”
“Again, it’s not a surprise in the 10th game of the year,” he said when asked if it’s during certain parts of the routes. “That’s how they’ve called the game this year so we’re not making an excuse. We know how man teams play. We’ve played this same team before and we’ve gotten through a lot of those. So it’s a good example for us of the difference between when you beat the man coverage and when you don’t.”
The Bengals had two chances in the fourth quarter Sunday to put together a game-winning drive and couldn’t get it done. Randy Bullock missed a 52-yard field goal, wide right, and Core dropped the game-sealing fourth-down pass before the Ravens ran out the clock.
Cincinnati had become accustomed to scoring on the last meaningful drives of games this season, as most of their wins have come that way.
Lazor said it was almost shocking it didn’t happen Sunday.
“I agree with a statement that Andy (Dalton) said today, which is as soon as we hit the first pass on the first play he felt like OK, this is it, here we go, we’re going to win, which is what we’ve done and obviously we didn’t come up with the right plays,” Lazor said.
It will help if the Bengals can get their biggest playmaker back, as reports indicate Green is expected to play this week at home against the Cleveland Browns. Green was listed as doubtful for the game at Baltimore and was considered a game-time decision, so it seems likely he will be ready.
His teammates are anxious for that possibility.
“He’s our guy,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said Monday. “We always know what we’re going to get from him, and he’s obviously a big playmaker for us. Hopefully, he’s back soon. That, for sure, will be a big boost for our offense.”