Cincinnati Bengals Report Card: Grading the 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos

For the first time in a long while, the defense wasn’t the most glaring problem for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The offense got in its own way with penalties and turnovers, and the Denver Broncos took advantage for a 24-10 win at Paul Brown Stadium, marking the Bengals’ sixth loss in seven games and fourth in a row.

»ARCHDEACON: Driskel’s first start one to forget as Bengals implode

Cincinnati (5-7) trailed just 7-3 at halftime, and although stopping the run still proved to be a struggle, it was the best first half the defense has played all season in terms of points allowed, and the Bengals gave up less than 400 yards of offense for a second straight game. That doesn’t sound all that great, but almost anything has to be better than the stretch where they had three straight games surrendering 500 yards or more, allowed 436 yards to a bad Baltimore offense and lost 35-20 to the Browns.

Here is a look at how we graded the performance in our Week 13 report card:


The Good: Joe Mixon rushed for 82 yards on 12 carries for an average of 6.8 yards per carry, and the running game helped take come of pressure off the edge at times early on. Cincinnati rushed for 111 yards total.

The Bad: Jeff Driskel wasn’t able to get to the perimeter as he likes because of the way the defense was coming at him with linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb in particular. He finished with three carries for three yards. Fifteen carries combined between Driskel and Mixon wasn’t enough.

»ANALYSIS: 5 takeaways from loss to the Broncos

Key Play: On the first drive of the second half, Trey Hopkins was called for a hold on a Mixon carry, and then Mixon ran for just three yards on second-and-20 play. The Bengals ended up going three-and-out to waste what could have been a game-changing drive with just a 7-3 deficit.

Grade: C+


The Good: Tyler Boyd had some phenomenal catches as his stellar third season continues. Cody Core scored his first touchdown on a 30-yard grab in the third quarter, as Driskel finished with 236 yards passing.

The Bad: Driskel threw an interception and fumbled on a strip sack in the second half. He finished with a quarterback rating of 80.6. He was sacked four times.

Key Play: On first-and-10 from the Denver 30-yard line, Driskel forced a pass intended for Jordan Franks and overshot him. Justin Simmons intercepted it with ease at the 7, and Denver pushed its lead to 21-3 the ensuing drive.

Grade: D+


The Good: The Bengals had five tackles for loss. There were just three third-and-short situations where the Broncos ran the ball, and Cincinnati got stops on two of them.

The Bad: Denver ran for 218 yards, including 157 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries by rookie Phillip Lindsay and 48 yards on 12 carries by rookie Royce Freeman.

Key Play: Lindsay broke loose on a run around the left end for a 65-yard touchdown to give the Broncos a 21-3 lead in the third quarter.

Grade: D


The Good: Case Keenum threw for just 151 yards and one touchdown and was sacked twice on third down, once by Sam Hubbard and once by Jordan Willis.

The Bad: Denver didn’t need Keenum to have a big day passing, but he had some long throws that hurt Cincinnati, including a third-and-7 play for 27 yards in the fourth quarter and two 30-yard passes.

Key Play: After Erickson’s muffed punt, the Broncos took advantage of the turnover two plays later when Keenum connected with Courtland Sutton for a 30-yard touchdown against coverage from Darius Phillips, who was in for injured cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. That gave Denver a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter.

Grade: C-


The Good: Kevin Huber had a long punt of 69 yards that the Bengals nearly downed at the 1 but it slipped through to the end zone for a touchback. Denver didn’t have a return longer than three yards.

The Bad: Alex Erickson has been among the most consistent players for Cincinnati with his returns on special teams, but he muffed a punt and only averaged 2.0 yards per punt return. A couple penalties on team also impacted the game.

Key Play: Erickson muffed a punt that he said shifted in the wind and just slid right through his hands. He was unable to recover, and Denver got the ball at the Bengals’ 33. That proved to be a pivotal point in the game, as Denver went up 14-3 two plays later.

Grade: C-


The Good: The defense had its best first half of the season and showed improvement in Marvin Lewis’ third game as defensive coordinator.

The Bad: Cincinnati racked up a surprising number of penalties (12 for 100 yards, including eight in the first half) for a second straight game, and Lewis said players just aren’t doing what they are coached to do. Some of the play calls in the first half seemed too conservative.

Key Play: On a third-and-29 from the Cincinnati 21 in the second quarter, the Bengals ran the ball. A hold pushed them back even further, and again, they ran. After the punt, Denver needed just 55 yards for the first score of the game with 1:56 left before halftime.

Grade: D+

Reader Comments

Next Up in Sports

Former Red Billy Hamilton signs with American League team
Former Red Billy Hamilton signs with American League team

The Kansas City Royals and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton have agreed to a $5.25 million contract for next season that includes up to $1 million in incentives, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The Royals hope that spacious Kauffman Stadium will allow Hamilton to better use his speed than the bandbox of Great American...
Franklin native Kennard nets NBA career high
Franklin native Kennard nets NBA career high

Franklin native Luke Kennard scored a career-high 28 points Monday in the Pistons’ 116-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Kennard, a 6-foot-5 guard, hit 11 of 18 shots from the field, including 5 of 8 3-pointers, grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists. Kennard recently missed 16 games due to a shoulder injury and is still working his way...
Random Thoughts: Ohio State’s coaching change, Bengals bumbles, unnecessary soccer stadiums, etc.
Random Thoughts: Ohio State’s coaching change, Bengals bumbles, unnecessary soccer stadiums, etc.

In hindsight, Urban Meyer ended up being exactly what he was expected to be when he was hired: A cross between Jim Tressel (micromanaging Ohioan) and John Cooper (free-wheeling national recruiter). Meyer also mixed in some grandpa and undertaker tendencies to keep things interesting.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that both...
Anthony Grant Show highlights: Dayton coach looks back at Detroit Mercy, Auburn games
Anthony Grant Show highlights: Dayton coach looks back at Detroit Mercy, Auburn games

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant reflected on a 98-59 victory against Detroit Mercy and an 82-72 loss at No. 8 Auburn last week during his weekly show Monday on WHIO Radio with Larry Hansgen. Here are some highlights: On Detroit game: “We were really concerned. They were coming off a loss at Akron before our game and had the nation&rsquo...
Take a look at the Dayton Daily News’ best photo galleries of 2018
Take a look at the Dayton Daily News’ best photo galleries of 2018

Enjoy our photographers’ best work in the past year. Here are the top photo galleries of 2018. The Budweiser Clydesdales come to Dayton: The famous horse team made special deliveries to Brown Streets bars and restaurants. The Memphis Belle Restoration is completed:  Seventy-five years to the day the B-17 Memphis Belle finished its final...
More Stories