The last two mornings after Bengals games have been a little more cheerful for the Who Dey Nation than this one likely will end up being, but the good thing for Cincinnati is that it has been here before, and found a way to recover from days like this.
Specifically, this year's Bengals have already been on the losing end of a contest they had numerous chances to win. It's the exact spot they were in Sunday afternoon, when, as long as they could, their defense kept them in the AFC North showdown against the in-state rival Browns. Their offense, on the other hand, tried as it might, couldn't come away with the crucial score when it needed it the most.
The Bengals know that if they are to reverse course and find their way well into the playoffs come this January, they will have to stumble into the end zone multiple times each ballgame.
As we take a look at Monday's Morning Stripes, keep in mind the following comment on the Bengals' offense -- which totaled just 266 yards -- from left offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth:
"We didn't play well. It wasn't really a letting down thing. ... It wasn't a team out here who didn't care. We just didn't execute. Any time you have situations where you have a couple of plays where nobody knows what to do because of miscommunications and then you have a fumbled snap, you can't win. We blew it in critical situations. I don't think that was a letdown thing. Honestly, it was just us having a bad day."
Those will come, but they'll need a good one Sunday when the New England Patriots come to town.
The Morning Stripes kick off with this look at the Bengals' offensive woes from Geoff Hobson, who writes for the team website. Within this posting, you'll see that quarterback Andy Dalton, despite airing it out 42 times, picked up only 206 yards passing and notched a passer rating below 60 percent. Receiver A.J. Green, who was blanketed all afternoon by Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, caught seven passes, but was targeted 14 times. Green also couldn't get more than 51 yards from his receptions. Cincinnati's rushing game totaled just 63 yards, too. That's not exactly a winning formula.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty writes about the "Any Given Sunday" nature of the NFL and how the Bengals got caught up in it this past weekend. A week before, they were flying high with a tough, physical, well-earned win over the Green Bay Packers. They were looking like the division's best team with a game coming up that on paper they were supposed to win. But with Sunday's unexpected loss to Cleveland, Cincinnati will have to hit another peak on its schedule next weekend when the always strong and still undefeated Patriots come to Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals can ill afford to have many more low points like Sunday.
One of the keys to the game for Cleveland, as the Enquirer's Paul Dehner, Jr. points out, is that the Browns were able to win the third-down battle. The Bengals seemingly weren't able to convert third downs on offense, and their defense at times couldn't find a way to get stops when those situations arose while it was on the field. In that sense, it was the perfect recipe for a loss. Offensively in particular, the proliferation of third downs was a product of penalties and negative plays on first and second downs.
Don't worry, Bengals fans. The sun came up Monday morning. All, in this season, is not lost.