Bengals Report Card: Grading the home-opening loss to 49ers

The Cincinnati Bengals believe they are better than they showed Sunday, and it was “just one bad game,” as some of the players said.

A one-point loss at Seattle the week before seems to indicate the Bengals have more potential than they put on display in Sunday's 41-17 blowout against the San Francisco 49ers in the home opener at Paul Brown Stadium. However, the results closely resembled many of the disappointments from the 2018 season.

Cincinnati looks to bounce back in Week 3 at Buffalo, but in the meantime, here are the Week 2 report card grades:


The Good: Joe Mixon returned healthy after injuring his ankle in the third quarter of the opener at Seattle, and the Bengals committed to the run early, even while he was only able to move the ball one or two yards at a time.

»ANALYSIS: 5 takeaways from Bengals’ blowout loss

The Bad: The Bengals managed just 25 yards on 19 carries (1.3 yards per carry) and Mixon accounted for 17 yards on 11 rushes. They now have 59 rushing yards through two games.

Key Play: Mixon had a 12-yard gain negated by an Andre Smith hold. The play would have taken the Bengals across midfield for a first down, and that might have been the momentum they needed to respond to San Francisco’s second touchdown and keep the score closer for longer.

Grade: F


The Good: Andy Dalton started out completing his first nine passes. Tyler Boyd and John Ross proved once again they are playmakers in Zac Taylor’s new offense, as Boyd finished with 122 yards on 10 catches and 10 targets and Ross had 112 yards on four catches with a 66-yard touchdown.

»ARCHDEACON: Home opener a bungle in the jungle

The Bad: Dalton fell out of a rhythm after his strong start and ended up underthrowing Tyler Eifert when he should have just thrown the ball away late in the second quarter. The 49ers intercepted him and drove down to add a field goal just before halftime to extend an 11-point lead. Dalton completed 26 of 42 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns and he was sacked four times, while ultimately relying on third-string left tackle John Jerry for protection. Smith, who is playing in place of Cordy Glenn (concussion), suffered a right groin injury in the second quarter.

Key Play: With San Francisco up 21-7 in the second quarter, Ross caught a 34-yard pass up the middle with space in front of him but slowed to try to make a move with two defenders closing in from the sides and ended up tackled. He said later he should have just relied on his speed because he probably would have scored. The Bengals instead ended up settling for a field goal.

Grade: C


The Good: The Bengals can learn a lot from watching this game film.

The Bad: The 49ers were able to run the ball with ease, as they racked up 259 yards on 42 carries (6.2 yards per carry). They went right up the middle most of the time, and even Matt Breida commented to media afterward how they realized early on they would be able to run it right at the Bengals. He finished with 121 yards on 12 carries. Missed tackles were a problem.

Key Play: On third-and-1 with a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, Breida busted out a 34-yard run and San Francisco ended up extending the lead to two touchdowns.

Grade: F


The Good: William Jackson had an interception early enough in the game it could have mattered had the offense done something with it.

The Bad: San Francisco’s running game opened up the entire playbook and the 49ers were able to run a lot of misdirection plays that just seemed to totally confuse Cincinnati’s defense. Jimmy Garoppolo completed 17 of 25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns and a rating of 131.2, and he didn’t have to work too hard for those – the receivers did most of the work off short passes.

Key Play: Marquise Goodwin lined up at the tight end spot and slid unnoticed across the defense on a wheel route for a wide open lane to the end zone on a 38-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring. The Bengals had a horrific start with a penalty on the opening kick return, followed by a sack and fumbled exchange, and the Niners only made it worse with a four-play scoring drive.

Grade: D


The Good: Darius Phillips had four kick returns for 100 yards, and Kevin Huber was steady with his punts for a 44.4 average with one inside the 20-yard line.

The Bad: Bullock missed a 52-yarder, and the Bengals had three penalties on kick returns.

Key Play: The missed field goal came after Jackson’s interception and it would have made it 14-10 in the second quarter. The Niners got the ball at their own 42-yard line and ended up scoring a touchdown for a 21-7 lead.

Grade: C+


The Good: Taylor owned up to the loss after the game and didn’t make excuses.

The Bad: Everything good about the opener at Seattle — a one-point loss in which Dalton threw for 418 yards and the defense limited the Seahawks to 233 yards offense – felt like a mirage after this game. Fans were booing the first drive of the third quarter, and there didn’t seem to be any adjustments on defense in particular.

Key Play: No one play stood out above the rest in terms of the coaching, but now Bengals fans will find out exactly what they have in Taylor, if he can bounce back from this one and show it was a fluke.

Grade: D

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