The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been 10-2 since 1975. But the defense is playing just as solid as that team. From 1970 to 1975, the Bengals’ defense was ranked no lower than No. 13 in the league. The Bengals climbed all the way to No. 5 in 1972. The way the Bengals’ defense is dominating teams, a shut out may be right around the corner.
The Bengals’ defense was a monster in 1975. That season, the defense shutout two teams. The New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles were both shutout by the visiting Bengals. The defense was able to lead the Bengals to a Wild Card berth in the playoffs, but they lost to Oakland 31-28. This year’s defensive unit has the juice to lead the Bengals farther.
The Bengals have depth on their side. They have remained relatively healthy and have the talent to plug in if needed. The unit has its eyes set on winning the NFL scoring title. With the blend of experience and youth, that may not be out of the question. With the emergence of the defense, this is one of the most balanced Bengals team in years.
In five of the past six games, Cincinnati has held opponents to 10 points or less. That has helped the Bengals take over sole possession of the top ranking in scoring defense. They have also been able to move up in total yards per game. After chilling in the lower half of the rankings for much of the season, the Bengals have moved to No. 10 in the league.
Head coach Marvin Lewis is not shy about giving credit to the defense. Via The Cincinnati Enquirer, he talked about defensive stops being a key in the win over the Browns.
“Those were big stops,” Lewis said. “It was a good job of the defense making those stops, giving the ball back to the offense and that field position, which was key. To flip it and turn it into points is outstanding. And then we had an 85-yard drive for a touchdown too at one point in the first half. That was a key to the football game.”
The Bengals defense harassed and hurried Austin Davis all day. The Bengals were able to shut down the line and put heaps of pressure on the young signal-caller. The Browns allowed him to get sacked three times. It seemed as if there was a defender in his face or in the backfield on just about every play. There was no answer for a surging Geno Atkins. He actually caused Cleveland to make three changes at the guard position.
The Cincinnati defense didn’t want to let the Browns score. When the Browns used a hurry-up offense at the end of the first half, it caused some confusion that led to a few missed assignments. Bengals WILL Vontaze Burfict was disappointed that the Browns connected on a late field goal.
“Our goal was to keep them out of field-goal range,” Burfict stated. “We knew it was going to be tough for them to score on us. We just wanted to get them out of field-goal range. I was kind of upset they got that field goal at halftime. It’s a little harder when teams are running a hurry-up. Just more mistakes for them and us. I’m kind of upset they got three points.”
The Bengals are flaunting a dominating defense that has come alive at the right time. Even though there are a few members dealing with minor nicks and scraps, there should be no letdown for the remaining games. The regular season is turning out to be one to remember, for defensive play in Cincinnati. The only thing missing is a shutout.
[Feature Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]