Chicago running back Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and rookie Tarik Cohen added 80 yards as the Bears gashed the banged-up Bengals defense for 232 yards on the ground.
It was the fifth most yards allowed by the Bengals in the Marvin Lewis era, and most since the Jets had 257 in the 2009 season finale, when Cincinnati rested its starters in a 37-0 blanking.
Howard’s 147 were the most by a Cincinnati opponent since Seattle’s Thomas Rawls had 169 on Oct. 11, 2015, in a 27-24 Bengals win overtime. And they were the most by an opposing back in a non-overtime game since Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell had 185 on Dec. 7, 2014.
The 482 total yards allowed were the 10th most in the Lewis era, and eighth most in a non-overtime game.
And with the Bengals offense gaining just 232 yards, the 248-yard differential was tied for the seventh most of the Lewis era, with two of the larger ones coming in that 2009 finale and the 2005 finale, a similar 37-3 loss at Kansas City when the Bengals were resting their starters.
Effort vs. Execution
The biggest question facing the Bengals in the locker room after the game was whether the blowout was the result of a lack of effort or execution.
Most of them balked at the notion the effort wasn’t there.
“You know me better,” defensive end Michael Johnson said.
“Our effort was good,” A.J. Green added.
“I don’t say there was anything wrong with the effort,” Lewis said. “”Our ability to complete the task, we didn’t get it done.”
The Bengals led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, but they were outscored 27-0 and outgained 375 to 137 after that.
Two of the longest streaks in the NFL came to an end Sunday when the Bengals defense surrendered 33 points and quarterback Andy Dalton threw his first interception since Week 7.
Dalton had attempted a career-best 193 consecutive passes without an interception before his target of A.J. Green late in the third quarter ended with the ball bouncing off the Pro Bowl receiver’s shoulder pads and into the arms of Chicago rookie safety Eddie Jackson.
The interception was the first turnover of any kind by the Bengals since Nov. 12 at Tennessee. Cincinnati was attempting to tie the franchise record of fourth consecutive games without a turnover.
The Bengals also came into the game having not allowed 30 points in 22 consecutive games, the longest streak in the league. The Bears hadn’t scored 30 points in 35 consecutive games, which was the second longest stretch in the league behind Cleveland (39).
The Bengals offense was missing starting running back Joe Mixon due to a concussion, but the lackluster performance hardly can be attributed to backup Giovani Bernard.
Making his first start since Week 6 last year, Bernard had 130 yards of offense, carrying 11 times for 62 yards while catching a team-high six passes for a team-high 68 yards.
The rest of the team combined for 104 yards.
“It’s frustrating because we’re a better team than we how we played out there today,” Bernard said. “It’s tough.”
Monday Night Football has never been kind to the Cincinnati Bengals. The following week has been even harsher.
In Sunday games after playing on Monday night, the Bengals are 0-4 since 2013, 2-8 in the Marvin Lewis era and 2-12 dating back to 1990.
While players tried not to use the short week of preparation and physical nature of Monday’s 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as an excuse, it certainly appeared to take a toll on the Bengals on Sunday.
“People are going to look at that, and people are probably going to stay that,” Dalton said. “I don’t know if that was the reason why, but whatever the reason was, we didn’t come to play today.”
Bengals at Vikings, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7