Bengals Report Card: Grading Sunday’s 51-14 loss to the Saints


The Cincinnati Bengals were missing their best player on offense Sunday, and the defense just didn’t show up at all.

The result was one of the worst losses in franchise history, as the Bengals fell 51-14 to the New Orleans Saints.

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Seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green was sidelined with a toe injury, and the offense wasn’t the same without its go-to playmaker, and the defense continued its catastrophic struggles. Cincinnati gave up 509 yards — the first time a team has allowed 500 yards in three straight games — as the Saints scored on every drive except the final one when they kneeled out the clock.

Below is how we graded the performance in our Week 10 Report Card:

RUN OFFENSE

The Good: Joe Mixon carried the ball four times for 35 yards on the Bengals’ first drive, and they never got to a third down, as they moved 75 yards on eight plays to tie the game at 7-7. Giovani Bernard returned from a knee injury that sidelined him four games. Jeff Driskel ran for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

The Bad: Mixon only had seven more carries after the first drive and finished with 61 yards. Bernard added just six yards on two carries.

Key Play: The Bengals were about to run on fourth-and-1 from the Saints’ 40-yard line when tight end Matt Lengel was called for a false start. Cincinnati ended up punting and New Orleans drove down for a third score to make it 21-7.

Grade: D

PASS OFFENSE

The Good: Dalton was 3-for-3 for 32 yards on the first drive, including a nice 23-yard catch by Tyler Boyd and 2-yard touchdown to John Ross. Boyd averaged 21.7 yards per catch.

The Bad: Dalton was sacked four times, threw two interceptions and completed 12 of just 20 pass attempts for 153 yards. The Bengals converted no third downs.

Key Play: Dalton’s pass intended for John Ross as halftime approached was intercepted at the 17-yard line, and Marcus Williams ran it back 78 yards to set up a last-second score to make it 35-7 at halftime.

Grade: F

RUN DEFENSE

The Good: The Bengals put the Saints in third-and-long situations twice in the fourth quarter and ended up limiting them to field goals both times.

The Bad: The Saints rushed 47 times for 244 yards and three touchdowns, including 104 yards from Mark Ingram and 56 yards and two touchdowns by Alvin Kamara.

Key Play: After Kevin Huber pinned the Saints inside their own 10-yard line in the second quarter, Kamara immediately got New Orleans going with a 14-yard run on first down, and the Saints drove down the field to make it 21-7.

Grade: F

PASS DEFENSE

The Good: Cincinnati limited the Saints to field goals on three drives in the second half, as New Orleans converted just 1 of 6 third downs after going 6-for-6 in those situations the first half.

The Bad: The Bengals didn’t have any sacks or interceptions, and Drew Brees completed 22 of 25 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Thomas caught all eight of the passes thrown his way and finished with 70 yards and two touchdowns.

Key Play: Ingram took a short pass 28 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, utilizing a big block on Jordan Evans and then spinning around two defensive backs, as Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates both whiffed, to get into the end zone. That made it 14-7 and encapsulated how the defense has played much of this season.

Grade: F

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Good: Cincinnati never began a drive inside the 23-yard line, so field position wasn’t an issue. Kevin Huber had one punt to the 10. Alex Erickson had a long return of 32 yards. There were no penalties on teams.

The Bad: New Orleans never punted. The Bengals didn’t have any huge plays on teams to help spark the offense or defense.

Key Play: After the Bengals were penalized for a false start one fourth-and-1, Huber’s punt set New Orleans at the 10-yard line but the Saints got a big run on first down and ended up driving down for a touchdown.

Grade: C

COACHING

The Good: Bill Lazor seemed to have a good plan in place the first drive to overcome not having Green, using a good mix of runs and passes, but the Bengals appeared to get away from that as the game went along.

The Bad: Lewis wasted a challenge on the opening drive and lost a timeout. The defense has never been so bad and there doesn’t seem to be a solution beyond the reported firing of coordinator Teryl Austin . Mixon was completely underutilized, and Lewis could only attribute that to the game dynamics changing but he had just one carry in the second and third quarters combined.

Key Play: No one play stands out, but it’s especially disappointing that the Bengals had an extra week to prepare and didn’t seem ready at all. Perhaps they should have gone for it on fourth-and-6 from the Saints’ 45-yard line instead of punting. Cincinnati completely fell out of it after that.

Grade: F



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