Bengals-Titans 5th Quarter: Game balls; coaching grades; takeaways; key stats and more
NASHVILLE (WKRC) - Welcome to the Bengals Fifth Quarter where I provide my analysis of Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans before a crowd announced at 67,432 in Nissan Stadium (here is a link to the story with game details filed as soon as the game concluded that also includes video/tweet highlights):
Offense: WRs A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell.
The Skinny: The duo combined for 11 receptions for 200 yards and each scored a touchdown.
LaFell had a 37-yard TD catch in the second quarter, while Green had a 70-yard touchdown reception with 5:03 left that gave the Bengals a 20-17 lead.
Green was coming off last Sunday's game at Jacksonville in which he was kicked out for fighting late in the first half and had just one reception for six yards.
"Last week was probably one of the worst times of my life," said Green, who had five receptions for 115 yards. "I was just ready to get back to play football."
LaFell finished with six catches for 95 yards with five of the catches for 87 yards coming in the first half.
Defense: CB Dre Kirkpatrick.
The Skinny: With the Bengals trailing 17-13 early in the fourth quarter Tennessee appeared as if it was going to extend the lead to 24-13 as rookie wide receiver Corey Davis caught a short crossing route and was heading toward the right front pylon of the end zone. Just as Davis got there, though, Kirkpatrick knocked the ball loose and Titans running back DeMarco Murray caught the fumble out of bounds in the end zone area.
A touchdown was initially called by officials, but that call was overturned on replay and a touchback was the ruling, which gave the Bengals the ball back.
"I was trying to punch for the ball," said Kirkpatrick. "That was one of the coaching points they were talking about is he runs loose with the ball."
Kirkpatrick also helped limit Tennessee wide receivers to only 13 receptions on 23 targets for 153 yards.
He took the loss extremely hard.
"It's a frustrating season. I’m pissed," said Kirkpatrick. "I want to win. I don’t care about the personal and individual goals. I don’t care about that (stuff). That (stuff) don’t mean nothing to me. I want to win as a team. I want to win as a unit, because when we win we all look good. When we lose everybody looks bad."
- Head Coach Marvin Lewis: C.
- Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor: C-minus.
- Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther: C.
- Special Teams Coordinator Darrin Simmons: B-plus.
The Skinny: Give the Bengals credit for fighting through the adversity that came throughout the game - from linebacker Vontae Burfict's first-half ejection to injuries at cornerback to the offense sputtering for much of the second half - and Lewis deserves some credit for that, but Lewis shoulders some of the blame for Burfict's continued actions, too.
Lazor's offense has really struggled in the second half of recent games. In the three games prior to this one the Bengals gained just 196 yards combined in the second half, and that included a 72-yard touchdown drive on the first series of the second half against Indianapolis.
On the first five possessions of the second half against Tennessee the Bengals had only 39 yards and two first downs.
I did like Lazor's liberal use of play-action passes in the first half despite the fact the Bengals can't run the ball, because it created some good passing windows for quarterback Andy Dalton, which helped him go 11 of 15 for 132 yards and a rating of 122.1 in the half.
Guenther's unit allowed over 400 yards for the second straight game, including 267 in the first half.
The defense then stymied Tennessee for much of the second half until the Titans mounted their game-winning drive. In Tennessee's first six possessions of the second half it gained just 81 yards and had only six first downs, three of which came by penalty.
Simmons used Adam Jones on two punt returns, and he returned one of them 23 yards and another 11 yards. Punter Kevin Huber had a good day averaging 47.7 yards net on his seven punts, including Brandon Wilson saving one from going into the end zone by batting the ball backward where teammate Cody Core downed it on the Titans 1.
Kicker Randy Bullock missed his first extra-point attempt after not kicking last week in Jacksonville due to a bad back.
- Burfict continues to prove he can't learn from past transgressions.
The Skinny: In just about every game this season Burfict has pushed the envelope from time-to-time after a play and it finally came back to cost him and the Bengals on Sunday when he was ejected.
The personal foul call for a late hit out of bounds on Murray wasn't severe, but he did bump Murray and tried to show the officials he wasn't trying to do anything dirty by quickly throwing his hands in the air.
The thing is he didn't need to bump Murray at all, and it's one of those things he has done on occasion this season and hadn't been flagged.
As for the contact with the official that led to his ejection, again he didn't do anything major other than move the official's arm out of the way as the official tried to separate him from Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin after Conklin pushed him as Burfict walked over to help teammate Adam Jones up off the ground. The reason Conklin pushed Burfict though was that Burfict was stepping on the hand of Titans guard Brian Schwenke as he was helping Jones up, and it's hard to believe he wasn't doing that intentionally.
Click here to see that incident and read Lewis' and some teammates' reaction to Burfict getting ejected.
- Ross showed on one route why he hasn't gotten many snaps when healthy.
The Skinny: Rookie first-round draft pick John Ross was active for the game after being a healthy scratch last week, but he played only six snaps and got only one pass thrown his way, and he showed on that one pass route perhaps why he hasn't seen the field much when healthy.
On the second play of the second quarter the Bengals were faced with a third-and-5 from their own 36 and Dalton saw Ross in man-to-man coverage on the outside and lofted a deep pass up the right sideline that fell incomplete well beyond the speedy Ross. The reason? Ross stopped running his route for a moment when he was chucked by a Titans cornerback and then started running again when he saw the ball in the air.
"It was all my fault," said Ross. "I kind of messed up what I had to do. It had nothing to do with Andy. I thought it was a great ball. I got to listen to what I was told and just continue to do it right."
Ross didn't play another snap the rest of the game, and admitted he was disappointed. He was also benched after five snaps in the Sept. 14 game against Houston when he lost a fumble on a 12-yard end around.
"It's like you being a kid and you go the whole year being good and you mess up that one time and you don't get anything for Christmas," said Ross. "That's what it felt like. It definitely stings."
In addition to being a healthy scratch at Jacksonville last week he played only six snaps two weeks ago against Indianapolis. He missed four games due to knee issues.
Ross said he thinks it's good that the Bengals are bringing him back slowly after the knee issues, although 12 snaps in four weeks he has been healthy is extremely slow.
"I think it's still tough because I barely did camp, barely did preseason," said Ross. "I think it's imperative to still bring me back slowly instead of trying to not throw me out there and automatically assume I'm going to be the guy everyone thinks that I'm going to be. It just doesn't work that way, especially not in this league. I just got to continue to work hard and put in the extra time."
- Penalties proved problematic.
The Skinny: The Bengals committed 12 penalties for 84 yards, six of which gave Tennessee a first down, including a key holding penalty on cornerback Josh Shaw on third-and-5 from the Bengals 25 with just under two minutes left.
"We can't have the penalties," said Lewis. "We just can't do that."
Shaw was pressed into service at cornerback due to second-half injuries to Adam Jones (concussion) and William Jackson III (toe) and was called for three different penalties in the fourth quarter - a holding and an illegal contact were the other two.
Both holding penalties might have saved a touchdown and all three came on double moves by Tennessee receivers.
"If they didn't do what they did, we'd have open guys," said Titans head coach Mike Mularkey. "We had some double moves they were holding our receivers. Every hold they had (Jackson was called for holding in the third quarter, too) we had a double move on, and they were beat to the point they had to hold. That was probably a smart move on their behalf."
THREE STATS/NUMBERS OF NOTE
80:23: The combined time of possession of the Bengals' last two opponents - Jacksonville and Tennessee. The Titans had the ball for 40:09 and ran 84 plays, while Jacksonville had the ball for 40:14 and ran 78 plays. Conversely the Bengals had the ball just 39:37 in the last two games combined and ran just 87 plays in the two games combined.
56: The number of consecutive field goal attempts that Titans kicker Ryan Succop had made from inside 50 yards before he missed a 48-yard attempt in the second quarter against the Bengals. Succop missed wide right on a 48-yard attempt with 8:05 left in the second quarter. The previous NFL record for consecutive made field inside the 50 was 46 set by Atlanta's Matt Bryant between 2013 and 2015.
2 for 18: The third down conversion rate for the Bengals in the last two games combined. They were 1 for 10 against Tennessee and 1 for 8 against Jacksonville. It's a big reason why they have just 23 first downs in the last two games combined.
THREE QUOTES OF NOTE
- Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey on what the players need to do moving forward to salvage the season: "We all got to look at oursevles in the mirror. (We) can't lose one-on-one battles like that, especially on third down. (We) can't give up catches. We can't have penalties. That’s why it sucks we gave up that touchdown at the end. We were grinding them out all the way to the end and they score with less than one minute left. Hats off to them. We’re all pissed off in here. The best thing we can possibly do is regroup and every person look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, this is what I have to do to get better."
- Kirkpatrick on the his attitude moving forward: "I ain’t going to give up. I’m going to ride it all the way out, win or lose. Hopefully we can build and get one next week, because in a minute it’s going to turn into a pride game. I’m not ready to go that route. I’m ready to keep looking at my goals ahead. we want to continue to win so it doesn’t become we’re fighting for our pride."
- Green on the players' attitude moving forward: "All we can do is control our attitude, the way we work and keep fighting. The one thing about this team is that we're not going to give up no matter what our record is. We're going to continue to fight."
UP NEXT: Nov. 19 at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. (WKRC-TV, Local 12)
The Skinny: The Broncos were trying to avoid their fifth straight loss on Sunday night when they hosted the New England Patriots, but got belted instead.
They are the only team the New York Giants claim a win over this season, which is what started their tailspin, and that loss came at home.
During the four-game skid heading into Sunday, Denver averaged just 13.0 points and allowed an average of 31.0.
The Broncos turned the ball over 13 times in those four games.
Denver was held to less than 200 yards passing in five of the first eight games.
The defense has been solid for the most part, holding seven of the first eight foes to less than 300 yards, but did allow 419 yards in a 51-23 loss at Philadelphis on Nov. 5.