By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
After five games the Bengals have learned one thing. Nobody is scared of them or afraid to take what they have. Until another team from the AFC goes to the Super Bowl the Bengals are the AFC champions. What the team accomplished in 2021 is in no way, shape, or form, opening the door for wins in 2022. The latest team to refuse to be intimidated by the Bengals is the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore was destroyed not once but twice by Cincinnati in 2021. The Ravens acquired the blue print on short circuiting Cincinnati. A 19-17 Ravens victory allowed Baltimore to leapfrog into first place alone.
Cincinnati has found the going much more difficult in 2022. Joe Burrow is not having the defense torching 400 yard passing games. Ja’Marr Chase is finding the 70 yard passing plays much harder to come by against defenses. The Bengal defense is keeping the team in games. That is,..until it counts in the end. The biggest killer for Cincinnati is that the team has now lost two all important division games.
We can’t blame it all on the players. Head coach Zac Taylor’s decision making and play calling have been hurtful at worst and questionable at best. The biggest turning point against the Bengals latest foe Baltimore came late in the game with the Bengals on a fourth down deep in Raven territory. Instead of taking the sure points, Taylor decides to go for it. Of course, the Bengals failed to make it and ultimately lose the game by 2 points. The critical 3 points could have been the difference in Cincinnati winning the game. Taylor believes in his team…wonderful…He believes he has a defense that could have neutralized the Baltimore Ravens…fantastic.. But in a hostile environment in a close game there are no guarantees. When you have a chance to get points, it needs to be done. Taylor failed to absorb that fact.
As a result of the Baltimore loss, the Bengals are tied with the Cleveland Browns for second place in the AFC Central.
Cincinnati will face the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans this weekend. For the third time since leaving the Bengals. Cincinnati will likely face former longtime Bengal quarterback Andy Dalton. The team has faced Dalton the previous 2 years. In 2020, Dalton led the Dallas Cowboys to a lopsided victory over the Bengals in Cincinnati. In 2021, Dalton started the game with the Chicago Bears, but got hurt. The Bears ultimately defeated the Bengals behind then-rookie QB Justin Fields. Unless starter Jameis Winston is healthy, the Bengals will face Dalton yet again. The former Bengal will be trying to lead the Saints to victory. Both teams are 2-3 and in much need of a victory.