What it means: The reigning AFC North champions look more like pretenders than contenders. The Bengals are in a funk, losing two in a row and falling to 2-3 on the season. Cincinnati entered the year with high expectations. But with the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) and Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) both playing well, Cincinnati is quickly falling behind in the division race.
What I liked: Bengals running back Cedric Benson finally got it going against a Bucs defense which has struggled against the rush. Benson rushed for 144 yards on 23 carries and averaged 6.3 yards per carry. Cincinnati's offensive line is built to run the football and this was the best running performance of the season.
What I didn't like: The Bengals let a fourth-quarter lead slip away at home, as Tampa pulled off 10 straight points with less than two minutes left in the win. Also, in what's becoming a weekly occurrence, the Bengals were too sloppy and inconsistent. Cincinnati had nine penalties and four turnovers, including a pick six thrown by Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer, who had three interceptions total.
What's next: Cincinnati enters the bye week sputtering and with plenty of problems to fix. The Bengals' season now reaches a critical stage. They have a tough upcoming schedule that likely will make or break this year, starting with an Oct. 24 road game against the Atlanta Falcons (4-1).