Loss to Jets ‘a kick in the gut,’ but Bengals turn focus to Browns

CINCINNATI -- Vonn Bell called Sunday’s loss to the Jets a minor speed bump in the road for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they were ready to move on quickly by Monday afternoon.

Film study revealed some of the corrections that need made, and now the Bengals are ready to apply those to a new opponent as they set to play host to the Cleveland Browns in Week 9.

The Bengals had an 11-point lead with 7:30 to go in the Meadowlands, N.J., on Sunday and ended up losing 34-31 to a Jets team that had won just one of its first six games and was playing with a backup quarterback making his first NFL start.

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“It’s a sting, sure,” Bell said. “It’s a kick in the gut. But we get our next opportunity this week, and it’s a big divisional week and we have a chance to go 3-0 in the division, so get your mind on fire for that, get fired up for that and be ready to go out there and just really go play ball.”

Cincinnati gave up 511 yards of offense to the Jets and struggled with missed tackles, something the Bengals had issues with in 2020 but not earlier this season.

Jets quarterback Mike White didn’t attempt a pass beyond a 15-yard aerial travel distance, and the Bengals simply couldn’t get stops when needed most. Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he counted at least 15 missed tackles.

“We have to be better in that area,” Taylor said Monday after reviewing film. “That’s an area really we’ve taken a lot of pride in the first however many weeks of the season. I thought our defense has been top notch at when a ball is completed underneath, tackling those guys and trying to punch and rake that ball out, and our guys have been outstanding in that area. And yesterday just wasn’t up to our standard.

“So, sometimes you need kind of this wake up call. I don’t know that our team is one that really needed one. I think we’ve handled things really well to this point. But it’s a reminder of just how much it sucks to lose and the feeling that we had last night and this morning. We haven’t experienced that the last couple of weeks. And so, you know, we’ll just take the things that we can learn from it because we got to and move on and get ready for Cleveland.”

Offensively, the Bengals struggled to get the running game going and they weren’t as efficient in the red zone as they have been. Wide receiver Tee Higgins on Monday downplayed the idea of the talk about a trap game coming to fruition, saying the Bengals “just didn’t play up to standard.”

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The Bengals already were talking about “staying together” after the loss and not allowing it to derail what they’ve already worked to build this season. Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and Jessie Bates all went to the podium together for a combined postgame press conference to show they had each other’s backs, as they described it to local media.

On Monday, Bell described the team chemistry as something that especially is important in times of adversity and something that will help the Bengals regroup and get back on track this week.

“You never want to let your brother down,” Bell said. “It’s a little hiccup, a speed bump, but we’re just gonna keep on pushing forward. We never said it would be a perfect road. It’ll be a little bumpy to get to what we’re trying to get to, so this is just a little hiccup. We’ve just got to keep on playing with one another and stick to the plan.”

At the same time, the NFL trade deadline Tuesday also looms as a way the Bengals could add pieces that could really help them surge in the second half of the season. Midseason trades are rare in Cincinnati, though it became necessary last year to shed a disgruntled Carlos Dunlap from the roster.

During a 5-3 start to this season, any trade likely would be done to improve the roster, but that also could potentially disrupt the chemistry of the locker room. Taylor said that’s never been a concern for him because of the character of his players and their willingness to take new guys under their wings and make them feel comfortable.

“I think that Duke Tobin and Steve Radicevic, they do a great job every week, whether it’s the trade deadline or not, evaluating ways to make our team better,” Taylor said last week. “So again, that’s why you work guys out, that’s why you bring in free agents, trade deadline or not, we’re always looking at ways to maximize what we can do with our team. That’s really as general as I can make it.”

Taylor said Monday he hasn’t concerned himself with what might happen leading up to the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline, though he is always kept in the loop.

The Bengals will continue to go about their business game-planning for the Browns and preparing as usual for the team to ramp things up Wednesday when they return from a day off Tuesday. He was pleased with the response Monday.

“We’re not gonna run from making the corrections and being critical where we need to be,” Taylor said. “Our guys handled it really well.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

Browns at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1290, 1530, 95.7, 102.7, 104.7

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