By Rick Brown
The Cincinnati Bengals (4-6) and the Denver Broncos (3-7) have both been experiencing disappointing seasons. Both of these teams are filled with talented players, but neither has been able to make things happen on offense, so Sunday’s matchup was expected to be a somewhat even contest.
Unfortunately, the Broncos came out on the losing end of this matchup and fell to the Bengals, 20-17, in front of a home crowd at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This was the Bengals’ first win in Denver since 1975.
Denver’s offense did a decent job of moving the ball between the 20s, but the Broncos were not able to score enough points in three attempts in the red zone while the defense allowed three Andy Dalton touchdowns. There’s just not much to be excited about with these Denver Broncos.
The offense opened the game slowly and went three and out on the first possession. An early turnover by the Bengals gave the Broncos offense great field position. Denver went after the opportunity to score points early on, but Brock Osweiler threw an interception to Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the end zone to set up Cincinnati’s first touchdown of the game.
Problems with turnovers and red zone inefficiencies continue to plague the Broncos. While Denver was able to run the ball well, there were troubles with the passing game, and the offensive line gave up three sacks. The Broncos put up some good statistics—112 yards rushing and 229 passing—but were not able to put enough points on the board to win the game.
Through two quarters, the Broncos defense gave up 13 points and did a decent job of keeping the Broncos in the game. The defense did an OK job of containing the Bengals, but was unable to stop Andy Dalton as he threw for three touchdowns. The Broncos’ secondary continued to give up big plays, as Bradley Roby gave up two long touchdowns. One was a 29-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Alex Erickson, and the other was from Dalton to A.J. Green for 18 yards.
The “No Fly Zone” has become nonexistent. In the end, Von Miller was another non-factor as he was held to zero sacks, and the rest of the team was able to sack Dalton only two times.
Special Teams: C
The special teams got off to a fast start after an early blocked punt. Then right before halftime, the Bengals were able to block one of Brandon McManus’ field goal attempts. Broncos punter Riley Dixon did a good job of punting the ball and kept the Bengals in long-field situations. Overall, the Broncos special teams did its job by helping to keep Denver in the game.
Between the continued issues with scoring points and slow starts, the coaching staff was ready to do whatever it took to win Sunday. Early in the game, the Broncos coaching staff decided to go for it on a fourth down, and the Broncos offense was able to score a touchdown. Vance Joseph did a good job of keeping the team focused, as the Broncos were only down by three with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the rest of the team did not execute properly, which led to Denver losing its sixth consecutive game. Now that the Broncos have seven losses on the season, it is time for the coaching staff to start making some major changes—mainly at quarterback—as the Broncos prepare to play the Oakland Raiders (4-6).
While the Broncos are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the teams’ chances are rather low. When Denver travels to play the Raiders, hopefully the team will have decided to start second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch. It is time for the Broncos to start getting a look at the former first-round pick. The Raiders will be looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots (8-2) in Mexico City. Oakland will also be looking for payback after losing to the Broncos earlier in the season, 16-10. Look for the Broncos to continue their losing streak next week in Oakland.